ERIC Number: ED227468
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1982-Nov
Reference Count: 0
Early English Dictionaries in Historical Perspective.
The first true English dictionary was Robert Cawdrey's "A Table Alphabeticall," published in 1604. Cawdrey's book may be seen as the result of a number of dramatic events that had occurred in the century and a quarter that preceeded it, including the widespread use of the Gutenberg press. Printing became so much easier and cheaper that it became feasible not only to publish works of significance, but also to undertake writings of lesser consequence as well. The status of the English language also underwent a change. As the sixteenth century wore on, many original English writings as well as translations from various other languages became increasingly available. The Protestant Reformation also led to the adoption of English in the place of Latin in official church services. As a consequence of world-wide exploration and colonial expansion and the rising status of women, there was an increasing need to explain words to these new populations. Cawdrey's book was produced for the benefit of these audiences in order to help them understand many hard English words. Borrowing from available compilations, Cawdrey filled out and broadened their definitions and doubled the number of entries. In much the same manner, the dictionaries that followed Cawdrey's pulled together and enlarged upon earlier compilations. By the eighteenth century, the motley collection of hard words had evolved into a much more inclusive, elaborately defined compilation that acquired great authority--an authority that even today has not diminished. (HOD)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Cawdrey (Robert); Table Alphabeticall
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the New York State Reading Association (Kiamesha Lake, NY, November 2-5, 1982).