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Preface to a Dictionary of the English Language

3.46  ·  Rating Details ·  56 Ratings  ·  5 Reviews
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), often referred to simply as Dr Johnson, was one of England's greatest literary figures: a poet, essayist, biographer, lexicographer and a critic of English literature. He was also a great wit and prose stylist, well known for his aphorisms. Between 1745 and 1755, Johnson wrote perhaps his best-known work, A Dictionary of the English Language. ...more
Paperback, 48 pages
Published July 13th 2007 by Dodo Press (first published April 1st 2004)
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Richard
Feb 27, 2015 Richard rated it it was amazing
Murray, in his Oxford lecture on the history of English lexivography, began with Samuel Johnson's famous Dictionary. He then went on to show how Johnson's work was built upon the efforts of many others. Still, most of Murray's time was devoted to the great work of Johnson because it was that book which defined what a dictionary should encompass and did so on a scale never before attempted.

Johnson was aware English needed some sort of codification which an authoritative dictionary could provide.
...more
Jeff Crompton
Nov 19, 2011 Jeff Crompton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For years, when my wife asked me what I wanted for my birthday or Christmas, I would jokingly say, "The first or fourth edition of Johnson's Dictionary." She never came through, and I don't know why - those editions only cost around $10,000 U.S. Over the years I've toyed with buying a facsimile edition or a CD-ROM edition, but even those are priced in the hundreds of dollars.

But lo and behold, there is now a cheap Kindle version. And while it's not perfect, I'm pretty thrilled to be able to car
...more
Annie
Jan 15, 2015 Annie rated it really liked it
Interesting. I am fascinated with language and its development and it is so easy to take dictionaries for granted in this world of instant information overload. Not so at all times as Johnson makes clear.
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Samuel Johnson was an English author. Beginning as a Grub Street journalist, he made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, essayist, moralist, novelist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer. Johnson has been described as "arguably the most distinguished man of letters in English history". He is also the subject of one of the most celebrated biographies in English, ...more
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“If the changes that we fear be thus irresistible, what remains but to acquiesce with silence, as in the other insurmountable distresses of humanity? It remains that we retard what we cannot repel, that we palliate what we cannot cure. Life may be lengthened by care, though death cannot be ultimately defeated: tongues, like governments, have a natural tendency to degeneration; we have long preserved our constitution, let us make some struggles for our language.” 1 likes
“volumes where it is particularly and professedly delivered; and, by proper attention to the rules of derivation, the orthography was soon adjusted. But to COLLECT the WORDS of our language was a task of greater difficulty: the deficiency of dictionaries was immediately apparent; and when they were exhausted, what was yet wanting must be sought by fortuitous and unguided excursions into books, and gleaned as industry should find, or chance should offer it, in the boundless chaos of a living speech. My search, however, has been either skilful or lucky; for I have much augmented the vocabulary. As my design was a dictionary, common or appellative, I have omitted all words which have relation to proper names; such as Arian, Socinian, Calvinist, Benedictine, Mahometan; but have retained those of a more general nature, as Heathen, Pagan. Of the terms of art I have received such as could be found either in books of science or technical dictionaries; and have often inserted, from philosophical writers, words which are supported perhaps only by a single authority, and which being not admitted into general use, stand yet as candidates or probationers, and must depend for their adoption on the suffrage of futurity. The words which our authours have introduced by their knowledge of foreign languages, or ignorance of their own, by vanity or wantonness, by compliance with fashion or lust of innovation, I have registred as they occurred, though commonly only to censure them, and warn others against the folly of naturalizing useless foreigners to the injury of the natives. I have not rejected any by design, merely because they were unnecessary or exuberant; but have received those which by” 0 likes
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