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Lexical Leavings

by Tom Gally

Many dictionaries have appendixes with examples showing how to write letters, e-mails, and the like. The addresses and phone numbers used in the examples can be a problem, though. If they're obviously fake--like "123 Maple Street, Anytown, USA"--then they distract from the realism of the examples. But if they're too real they may attract nuisance contacts to whoever has the actual address or phone number.

Some dictionaries, perhaps as a kind of subliminal advertisement, use the name and phone number of the dictionary's publisher. Others leave the address incomplete or put X's in the place of the numbers. One dictionary uses "1728 West 48 Street, New York, N.Y." This is one address that isn't likely to attract any nuisance visits--it's in the middle of the Hudson River.
(February 9, 2003)