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The anonymous author of The Art of English Poesy , thought to be George Puttenham , wrote in concerning the adoption of southern speech as the standard:. The mainstream of English lexicography is the word list explained in English.

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The first known English-English glossary grew out of the desire of the supporters of the Reformation that even the most humble Englishman should be able to understand the Scriptures. Spelling reformers long had a deep interest in producing English dictionaries. Schoolmasters also had a strong interest in the development of dictionaries. He had the collaboration of his son Thomas, a schoolmaster in London.

This work contained about 3, words but was so dependent upon three sources that it can rightly be called a plagiarism. But the third source is most remarkable. In a Dutchman known only as A. As he had been away from England for many years and had forgotten much of his English, A. When friends told him that Englishmen would not understand them, he compiled a list of them, explained by a simpler synonym, and put it at the end of the book.

Samples are:. Puluerisated , reade beaten; Frigifye , reade coole; Madefye , reade dipp; Calefye , reade heat; Circumligate , reade binde; Ebulliated , read boyled. But other editions of Cawdrey were called for—a second in , a third in , and a fourth in The work had 14 editions, the last as late as Still in the tradition of hard words was the next work, in , by Henry Cockeram, the first to have the word dictionary in its title: The English Dictionary; or, An Interpreter of Hard English Words.

It added many words that have never appeared anywhere else— adpugne , adstupiate , bulbitate , catillate , fraxate , nixious , prodigity , vitulate , and so on. He made an important forward step in lexicographical method by collecting words from his own reading that had given him trouble, and he often cited the source.

Thus far, the English lexicographers had all been men who made dictionaries in their leisure time or as an avocation, but in appeared a work by the first professional lexicographer, John Kersey the Younger. This work, A New English Dictionary , incorporated much from the tradition of spelling books and discarded most of the fantastic words that had beguiled earlier lexicographers.


As a result, it served the reasonable needs of ordinary users of the language. Kersey later produced some bigger works, but all these were superseded in the s when Nathan Bailey, a schoolmaster in Stepney, issued several innovative works.

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A supplement in was the first dictionary to mark accents for pronunciation. Many literary men felt the inadequacy of English dictionaries, particularly in view of the continental examples.

The Crusca Academy , of Florence, founded in , brought out its Vocabolario at Venice in , filled with copious quotations from Italian literature. In Spain the Royal Spanish Academy , founded in , produced its Diccionario de la lengua Castellana —39 in six thick volumes. The Russian Academy of Arts St.

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Petersburg published the first edition of its dictionary somewhat later, from to Both the French and the Russian academies arranged the first editions of their dictionaries in etymological order but changed to alphabetical order in the second editions. Five leading booksellers of London banded together to support his undertaking, and a contract was signed on June 18, With the aid of six amanuenses to copy quotations, Johnson read widely in the literature up to his time and gathered the central word-stock of the English language.

He included about 43, words a few more than the number in Bailey , but they were much better selected and represented the keen judgment of a man of letters. No doubt some of these were included for their beauty, but mostly they served as the basis for his sense discriminations. No previous lexicographer had the temerity to divide the verb take , transitive, into senses and the intransitive into 21 more. The definitions often have a quaint ring to modern readers because the science of the age was either not well developed or was not available to him.

But mostly the definitions show a sturdy common sense, except when Johnson used long words sportively. His etymologies reflect the state of philology in his age. Usually they were an improvement on those of his predecessors, because he had as a guide the Etymologicum Anglicanum of Franciscus Junius the Younger , as edited by Edward Lye, which became available in and which provided guidance for the important Germanic element of the language. The Dictionary retained its supremacy for many decades and received lavish, although not universal, praise; some would-be rivals were bitter in criticism.

A widely heralded work of the s and s was the projected dictionary of Herbert Croft, in a manuscript of quarto volumes, that was to be called The Oxford English Dictionary. Croft was, however, unable to get it into print.


Don the baggy green

The practice of marking word stress was taken over from the spelling books by Bailey in his Dictionary of , but a full-fledged pronouncing dictionary was not produced until , by James Buchanan; his was followed by those of William Kenrick , William Perry , Thomas Sheridan , and John Walker , whose decisions were regarded as authoritative, especially in the United States.

The attention to dictionaries was thoroughly established in American schools in the 18th century. It received abuse from critics who were not yet ready for the inclusion of American words. In spite of such attitudes, Noah Webster , already well known for his spelling books and political essays, embarked on a program of compiling three dictionaries of different sizes that included Americanisms.

In his announcement on June 4, , he titled the largest one A Dictionary of the American Language.


He brought out his small dictionary for schools, the Compendious , in but then engaged in a long course of research into the relation of languages, in order to strengthen his etymologies. At last, in , at age 70, he published his masterwork, in two thick volumes, with the title An American Dictionary of the English Language. His change of title reflects his growing conservatism and his recognition of the fundamental unity of the English language.

His selection of the word list and his well-phrased definitions made his work superior to previous works, although he did not give illustrative quotations but merely cited the names of authors. Even as early as , Franz Passow had published an essay in which he set forth the canons of a new lexicography, stressing the importance of the use of quotations arranged chronologically in order to exhibit the history of each word.

The first part of it was printed in , but the end was not reached until more than a century later, in Among British scholars the historical outlook took an important step forward in in the work of John Jamieson on the language of Scotland. Charles Richardson was also an industrious collector, presenting his dictionary, from on, distributed alphabetically throughout the Encyclopaedia Metropolitana vol. Richardson was a disciple of the benighted John Horne Tooke , whose 18th-century theories long held back the development of philology in England.

Richardson did collect a rich body of illustrative quotations, sometimes letting them show the meaning without a definition , but his work was largely a monument of misguided industry that met with the neglect it deserved.

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Scholars more and more felt the need for a full historical dictionary that would display the English language in accordance with the most rigorous scientific principles of lexicography. Forward steps were taken under two editors, Herbert Coleridge and Frederick James Furnivall , until, in , James Augustus Henry Murray , a Scot known for his brilliance in philology, was engaged as editor.

A small army of voluntary readers were inspirited to contribute quotation slips, which reached the number of 5,, in , and no doubt 1,, were added after that. Only 1,, of them were used in print. The copy started going to the printer in ; Part I was finished in So painstaking was the work that it was not finished until , in more than 15, pages with three long columns each.

An extraordinary high standard was maintained throughout. The work was reprinted, with a supplement, in 12 volumes in with the title The Oxford English Dictionary , and as the OED it has been known ever since. In a second edition, known as the OED2 , was published in 20 volumes. In the United States, lexicographical activity has been unceasing since To a large extent this was a competition between publishers who wished to preempt the market in the lower schools, but literary people took sides on the basis of other issues.

In particular, the contentious Webster had gained a reputation as a reformer of spelling and a champion of American innovations while the quiet Worcester followed traditions. In this edition the Webster interests were taken over by an aggressive publishing firm, the G. It's a dog-heavy list, but we know a lot of people like it that way. If you're interested in learning about how words get into the dictionary, you can read about the process here.

This month, aside from the dog content also discussed at length in this dedicated episode of our podcast, Word for Word we also look at a new term for the complicated world of modern dating in microcheating , as well as a trend that may or may not have been a publicity stunt, in the avocado latte. Let us know if you have any other suggestions. We are always happy to hear new words, no matter how big or small a usage they may have.

See other words suggested to the Macquarie Dictionary here. It was certainly something I believed for a long time, and is still circulated in popular culture, including in the blockbuster Arrival — a film with a linguist protagonist, as well as several high-profile linguistics consultants.

As it may not surprise you to hear, this is not the case. The myth can be traced back to Captain Phillip King, who visited the area in Another interesting chapter in the story of kangaroo is that when the First Fleet arrived in Sydney in , they used the word kangaroo with local Dharug people, not realising at first that they spoke a different language. This is a common pattern in the history of contact between English and Australian languages — words spread between Indigenous languages through contact with English.

In fact, several decades later, speakers of the Baagandji language of northern New South Wales also acquired the word through contact with European settlers. Perhaps, then, the myth is so pervasive because it does represent something true about the story of kangaroo , and in fact many other loan words from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages : That the process of borrowing from Australian languages is so often characterised by miscommunication.

Secret languages abound in history and in modern culture, with words occasionally making the leap into the mainstream of spoken English. Listen now. Words can be beautiful in the way they look, the way they sound and in what they mean. Some words hit the trifecta of beauty, and others have only one.