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Lexical Leavings

by Tom Gally



When reading the galleys of English-Japanese dictionaries, I'm often struck by how white-bread the surnames in the example sentences are. One large online dictionary has dozens of examples using surnames like Smith and Jones and Williams and none containing Garcia, Martinez, Rodriguez, Lopez, or Gonzalez--the latter five all being among the forty most common surnames in the United States.

The given names in examples often seem a generation or two behind the times as well--lots of Marys and Marthas and Susans but few Caitlins or Alyssas or Kaylas.
(January 30, 2003)