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Picture of Words and Dictionaries from the British Isles in Historical Perspective

Words and Dictionaries from the British Isles in Historical Perspective

Editor(s): John Considine, Giovanni Iamartino
Contributors: Paola Tornaghi, Giovanni Iamartino, Laura Pinnavaia, Fredric Dolezal, John Considine, Julie Coleman, Gabriele Stein,

Book Description

Words and dictionaries from the British Isles in historical perspective brings together a wide range of current work on English-language lexicography and lexicology by a team of twelve contributors working in England, continental Europe, and North America.

Fredric Dolezal’s opening essay offers a provocative discussion of how the history of English lexicography has been, and might in the future be, written. The next four papers deal with the medieval and early modern periods: Carter Hailey investigates the dictionary evidence for individual lexical creativity in a discussion of Chaucer and the Middle English Dictionary; Gabriele Stein shows how early modern English dictionaries handled lexicological questions rather than simply listing words and equivalents; R. W. McConchie analyzes the biographical record of the lexicographer Richard Howlet, and Paola Tornaghi presents and discusses an unpublished source for the seventeenth-century lexicography of Old English. Three papers on the long eighteenth century follow: Noel Osselton’s is an analysis of the “alphabet fatigue” which led many early lexicographers to treat words at the end of the alphabetical sequence more tersely than words at the beginning; Elisabetta Lonati’s shows the engagement of John Harris’s Lexicon technicum with one of the sources of its medical vocabulary; Charlotte Brewer’s discusses the under-representation of eighteenth-century material in the Oxford English Dictionary. In the last three papers, Julie Coleman provides a groundbreaking analysis of Farmer and Henley’s Slang and its analogues; Peter Gilliver draws on the Oxford English Dictionary archives to tell the story of an important editorial crisis; and Laura Pinnavaia discusses the syntactic flexibility of a set of idioms in a corpus of nineteenth- and twentieth-century prose.

The volume as a whole offers new discoveries and important analytical and conceptual work, and is an essential text in the developing field of the history of lexicography.


ISBN-13: 978-1-8471-8168-8
ISBN-10: 1-84718-168-6
Date of Publication: 01/05/2007
Pages / Size: 220 / A5
Price: £34.99


John Considine teaches English at the University of Alberta. He has published articles on dictionaries of English, German, medieval Latin, and other languages, and is editing the seventeenth-century volume in the Ashgate series Early English lexicographers. His book Dictionaries in early modern Europe: Lexicography and the making of heritage will be published by Cambridge University Press in 2007.

Giovanni Iamartino is Professor of English at the University of Milan. His research interests range from English historical linguistics to the history of Anglo-Italian linguistic and cultural relations. A collection of essays entitled Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary and the eighteenth-century world of words, co-edited with Robert DeMaria Jr., is due out in Autumn 2006. He is currently working on a history of punctuation in English.