A Dictionary of Transport Analysis
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A Dictionary of Transport Analysis

Edited by Kenneth Button, Henry Vega and Peter Nijkamp

This concise and clearly focused Dictionary, with contributions by the leading authorities in their fields, brings order and clarity to a topic that can suffer from confusion over terminology and concepts
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p. xiip. xiiiTransport analysis is an area of study rather than an academic discipline such as physics, linguistics or economics. To understand how transport systems work, and how transport institutions develop and function, and to appreciate the way individuals and companies view transport services, requires the application of a multiplicity of disciplines. Transport is a complex activity involving numerous interactions between actors both those interested in their own movements but also those affected by the actions of other. It entails the provision of a diverse range of technologies and infrastructures, and functions within a labyrinth of legal boundaries. It is also an emotional topic, taking up far more hours and column inches in the media than can be conceivably justified by its economic or social importance. In sum, it is complex and emotional.

This Dictionary seeks to help those less familiar with transport analysis to gain a foothold in the subject, and to offer information on particular topics to those already versed in some aspects of the field who wish to widen their knowledge. It sets out to pick out the main concepts and ideas of transport analysis, together with some particular institutions and technologies that are relevant, and to offer short explanations of their meaning and relevance to the study of transport. It is certainly not all-embracing, either in the range of subject covered or in the depth of coverage of these items. It focuses on the social science side of the subject; there is little, for example, on civil or mechanical engineering.

But what is a dictionary, and how does this volume fit with the generally held view of what a dictionary should do? Following Sandro Nielsen, a dictionary may be regarded as a lexicographical product that is characterized by three significant features: it has been prepared for one or more functions; it contains data that have been selected for the purpose of fulfilling those functions; and its lexicographic structures link and establish relationships between the data so that they can meet the needs of users and fulfil the functions of the dictionary. Perhaps the key point here relates to the idea that a dictionary should be useful and meet the needs of readers.

Unlike the dictionaries of the Akkadian Empire, written on cuneiform tablets that contain bilingual Sumerian–Akkadian wordlists, the Dictionary of Transport Analysis contains no translations from English, and gives rather more time to explaining and discussing some basic concepts. Further unlike its Akkadian counterparts, the Dictionary arranges material alphabetically along the lines of Samuel Johnson’s famed A Dictionary of the English Language of 1755, rather than by subject p. xivgrouping. It is also not a glossary, an alphabetical list of defined terms in a specialized field; and it goes beyond a defining dictionary, which provides a core glossary of the simplest meanings of more complex concepts. The contributors often include examples and illustrations, look at differing perspectives, and frequently discuss empirical findings pertinent to their topics.

Putting together a dictionary of any kind is not an easy task. In this case where there are multiple contributors, there are particular problems of coordination and timing. It is claimed that it took 120 years to type the 59 million words of the second edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, 60 years to proofread it, and 540 megabytes to store it electronically. The Dictionary of Transport Analysis took fewer years to complete, less time to proofread, and requires fewer megabytes of storage. Advances in technology clearly helped in the organization and production as well. Nevertheless, it has taken time to complete and one must be amazed at the patience of those who contributed the earliest.

The editors owe a massive debt to the various contributors, some of whom have had to endure a long wait before the product appeared. They have produced more than 200 original contributions that differ in style and approach but retain high-quality scholarship and analysis. The contributors were limited both in terms of their contributions and in the amount of additional reading they could suggest. To help with the flow of entries, there are no citations in them in the traditional sense but the further reading captures the concepts of those mentioned in the text of each entry and provides additional material for those wishing to know more about the subject of a contribution. There is extensive cross-referencing of contributions in bold to reflect the ‘relationships between the data’, as suggested by Nielsen when discussing the functions of a dictionary.

The cross-referencing has, we hope, been done in a helpful way. Where there is frequent use of a term in close proximity, it is not put into bold in every case. Also, there has been a sensitivity to meaning; for example the term ‘packaging’ is referred to with regard to the materials used to protect a shipment and to packages of policy measures, but the cross-referencing is limited to the former. Also, similar terms are cross-referenced; for example there is an entry on ‘taxicabs’ but this is cross-referenced as ‘taxi’ as well. Equally, terms used in very nearly all contributions such as ‘roads’ or ‘buses’ are not always highlighted; it is not thought to be that helpful in a product of this kind. Finally, some terms that are set in bold may be prefixed by something like ‘transport’ or ‘traffic and’ as an entry in the Dictionary. We hope an element of common sense has prevailed in the way this is done.

As for subject coverage, this is inevitably subjective, and another set of editors may well have included material that we have missed, or excluded p. xvitems we felt fit to include. That is inevitable: we all have our biases and range of interests. There is also some overlap in material. All we can say in our defence is that we feel that the topics covered, while far from complete, should provide considerable insights into transport analysis for those interested in the field. The balance of entries and the space devoted to each was largely an editorial decision, with suggestions coming in from contributors for additional material as the project progressed. The authors were asked to draft their contributions as either 800- or 1500-word pieces with very few, but readily accessible references. Exposition was seen as the key rather than utter completeness. This weighting in term of size vaguely, but not completely, reflects the broadness of a topic rather than its intrinsic importance. The longer entries, for example, cover more general subjects such as transport economics.