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BIC Excellence Award

Chosen Words
Past and Present Problems for Dictionary Makers

By N.E. Osselton

Chosen Words
Hardback, 198 pages £75.00
Published: 1995
ISBN: 9780859894197
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Subjects: Linguistics and Lexicography
Series: Exeter Language and Lexicography

What goes into our dictionaries and why? This informative collection of essays shows how dictionaries today have grown from the small beginnings of English lexicography in Shakespeare's time. Discussion is anchored in the practice of the past, but the author has been concerned throughout to show how the difficulties which beset the first compilers are still with us today. The essays may thus be read as a stimulating, even chastening, introduction to some of the practical problems that might confront any trainee lexicographer.

The product of over forty years' scholarly work on Cawdrey, Kersey, Bailey, Johnson and other lexicographers in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, these essays cover a wide variety of topics, including dialect words, variant spellings, how strict the alphabetical order can or should be, the treatment of phrasal verbs, of the literary and learned language, of common words, archaism and figurative usage. There are also critical assessments of some of the great historical dictionaries of Europe.

List of Figures

List of Abbreviations

Preface and Acknowledgements

1. The Character of the Earliest English Dictionaries

2. Figurative Words: Modern Practice and the Origins of a Labelling Tradition

3. Common Words: John Kersey and the First General Dictionary of English

4. Dialect Words in General Dictionaries

5. Old Words: Defining Obsolescence

6. Literary Words: Blount's Glossographia and Sir Thomas Browne

7. Setting up a New Bilingual Vernacular Dictionary: Henry Hexham (1647)

8. Style Markers: Early Bilingual Dictionaries and English Usage

9. Fixing the Spelling: Errour and Honor in Johnson and Bailey

10. Phrasal Verbs: Dr Johnson's Use of Bilingual Sources

11. A Dictionary Compiler at Work in the Sixteenth Century

12. Alphabetization in Early Dictionaries of English

13. An Eighteenth-Century Bilingualized Learners' Dictionary

14. Secondary Documentation in Historical Lexicography

15. Dictionary Criticism: Three Historical Dictionaries

16. Bilingual Dictionaries with Dutch: a Case Study in European Lexicography



'A remarkable aspect of this book is the way in which it displays the growth and development of lexicography as an academic industry and a fully-fledged discipline within the field of linguistics. Chosen Words has to be regarded as a fine example of academic Lexicography. However, this book can and should be appreciated by a much wider audience than practising and theoretical lexicographers. Any person interested in historical linguistics will benefit from this work. This book will also appeal to a more popular audience. Dictionaries are the most important containers of linguistic information utilised by ordinary language users. Chosen Words will be a stimulating experience on their reading list.' (Lexikos)

N.E. Osselton has divided his academic career equally between universities in Holland (Groningen, Leiden) and England (Southampton, Newcastle); he has held chairs of English Language in both countries. He was a founder member (and later President) of the European Association for Lexicography and now lives in retirement in Durham.

Publication Details:

 Hardback , 198 pages

BIC Code:
  LAN009000, REF008000
 University of Exeter Press


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