BMCR 2006.09.02

Dictionary of Bibliographic Abbreviations Found in the Scholarship of Classical Studies and Related Disciplines. Revised and expanded edition

Jean Susorney Wellington, Dictionary of bibliographic abbreviations found in the scholarship of classical studies and related disciplines. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2003. 1 online resource (xviii, 684 pages). ISBN 9780313072550 $99.95.

In the twenty years since the first edition (1983) of Jean Wellington’s dictionary appeared, the literature of classical studies has grown considerably, with new journals and series coming into existence and allied disciplines becoming more “interrelated” than previously. The revised and expanded edition of the dictionary of abbreviations has almost doubled its coverage of the scholarly sources in the field. It brings together an international list of abbreviations for the titles of scholarly journals, series, and even some monographs, the use of which is generally required of authors by editors and publishers of scholarly texts.

In her introduction, Wellington, the former Head of the Burnam Classics Library at the University of Cincinnati, informs us that the number of Greek-language titles covered has increased six-fold, and the various Cyrillic-language titles have quadrupled. Wellington has also widened the subject scope of the coverage, seeking to “increase the value of this publication for those working in Ancient Egyptian and Near Eastern Studies, Biblical Studies, and Late Antique/Early Medieval studies.” In addition to offering more coverage of regional archaeological and historical publications, she has also taken into account the renewed scholarly activity in the history of the Greek colonies of the Black Sea and Roman colonization of Eastern Europe, which activity in both instances is due to the political changes of the last ten years in those areas, providing greater access to archaeological sites and scholarly publications.

In addition, Wellington provides information about electronic resources, a major development in the field of classical studies and its allied disciplines since the publication of her first edition. She refers to library OPACs, international online bibliographic databases, and electronic journals, and provides information as to how to access these resources.

The format of the book remains virtually the same as in the first edition, a two-part arrangement that works efficiently. The first part consists of the list of abbreviations for journals, series, multi-volume works, and some monographs, each entry followed by codes which lead the reader to the full bibliographic citations appearing in the second part of the book. Part I has three sections of abbreviations, one for titles in Roman script, one for those in Greek script, and a third for those in Cyrillic script. In Part II, the titles of the works in Greek and Cyrillic alphabets are listed in Roman script transliterations, intermingled alphabetically among all the other titles in Roman script.

As she did in the first edition, Wellington gives in her introduction clear, precise guidance about how to use the dictionary, and adds cautions about specific types of abbreviation choices, particularly for journals and series which have very similar titles. She points out that if the reader cannot find a sought-after abbreviation in Part I, but has an idea of what the journal or series title might be, going to Part II and looking up the possible title may yield the full bibliographic entry. Then the appropriate abbreviation may be found by combining the first letters of the word(s) of the title, and checking back in Part I to see if that is correct, or needs emending. Obviously this method does not work every time, but it does yield results in enough cases to be a worthwhile way in which to use the dictionary. Since most scholarly works rely heavily on abbreviations in notes and bibliographies, this is a useful feature of the dictionary.

Certain publication categories are largely excluded from the dictionary: ancient authors and texts; congress proceedings; Festschriften; papyrology; epigraphy; Early Christian studies; and general (rather than specifically Classical) literature. However, for each of these fields, Wellington lists scholarly bibliographic resources that one can consult for further information on journal and series abbreviations. She also cautions us that titles of Eastern European journals may have changed in response to the recent political changes in that area. One needs to keep that in mind when searching the dictionary.

Wellington also deals with the advent of electronic journals now available through the Internet. If the title is available without charge, she provides the URL for the title. If access is not free, she provides the URL for the service’s homepage. These URLs were checked in November 2002, just prior to publication of the dictionary.

One of the most useful features of Part II’s full bibliographic entries is the tracking of the publication history of the titles. We have all experienced the irritating frustration of trying to find a journal or series which has changed title and volume numbering, sometimes more than once. Wellington gives us the variant titles, their beginning and ending dates, and tells us if a journal has combined with another journal and has adopted a new common title (for example, Anatolia Antiqua 1987 / Eski Anadolu 1987 merged with De Anatolia Antiqua to become Anatolia Antiqua (1993-)). For the new title, Wellington also provides its own entry in the Part II listing.

Part II’s listing of certain types of titles is gratifyingly comprehensive, in that Wellington provides us with a long list of frequently encountered generic titles, such as those beginning with Abhandlungen, Bollettino / Bullettino, Jahrbuch / Jahrb├╝cher, and all their variants. For instance, there are listings for forty-two titles that begin with the word Abhandlungen, and one hundred sixteen titles that begin with Jahrbuch or Jahrb├╝cher. If one is not sure which title may be the desired one, one can run one’s eye up and down the listings to see whether the inclusion of an institution or a city may lead to the correct title. Wellington also gives us cross references from one version of a title to another (i.e., from Bollettino to Bullettino, and all the variant forms of that title).

Although we have been forewarned in the introduction that the dictionary does not provide coverage for the general monographic literature, some well known authors are included, with listings of their titles in Part II. An example would be John Chadwick. The codes after his name lead the reader to his Corpus of Mycenaean Inscriptions from Knossos, which in Part I is abbreviated as CMIK, to his Documents in Mycenaean Greek, which in Part I is abbreviated as DMG, and to his Knossos Tablets (4th ed.) which is abbreviated in Part I as KT. The scholar who must use these abbreviations as part of notes and bibliographies will easily find them in Wellington’s dictionary.

One may assume that this dictionary is aimed primarily at the professional scholar in the field of classical studies, which in this case includes archaeologists, possibly anthropologists, historians, art historians, and geologists working in the field of ancient studies, scholars working in the allied fields mentioned earlier in this review, and librarians. However, the dictionary also meets the bibliographic needs of the graduate student in these fields, and the undergraduate student as well, particularly one who has begun to work with non-English-language journals and series. While libraries will certainly want to acquire this essential reference tool, I would highly recommend that it be bought by both the established and the budding scholar, despite its considerable price. It is a tool that one should have in one’s own personal library, because it will be referred to constantly throughout one’s scholarly life. We owe much gratitude to Jean Wellington for the meticulous research and careful repeated checking of the dictionary’s data that went into this publication. It would be ideal to have all this information available online, in a database that could be updated frequently with additions and changes. I suspect that Jean Wellington would not want to undertake such a project, having already spent so many years of her professional life preparing the two editions of her dictionary. Let us hope that another candidate will step forward to keep this dictionary current with developing scholarship.