Lexicography: Overview

Research areas:
Year:
2006
Type of Publication:
In Book
Keywords:
lexicography dictionaries Robertus Stephranus Samuel Johnson Sir William Jones Leibniz Noah Webster Carl Darling Buck Julius Pokorny Indo-European Funk and Wagnall Merriam Webster historical principles Oxford English Dictionary Deutsches Woerterbuch Jakob
Authors:
  • Hanks, P.
Editor:
Keith, Brown
Pages:
113-128
Publisher:
Elsevier
Address:
Oxford
BibTex:
Abstract:
This article is a general survey of [`]lexicography,' the art of writing dictionaries. Dictionaries not only confirm the spelling, meaning, and use of words; they also facilitate the rapid spread of words and ideas. They played an important part in the spread of Renaissance culture, which would not have been possible without the invention of printing. During the Enlightenment (17th and 18th centuries), there was interaction between lexicography and philosophical ideas about language, and the notion grew that a dictionary should record all the words of a language in a consistent fashion. Lexicography in 19th-century Europe was dominated by historical methods in linguistics and saw the birth of some of the great multivolume national dictionaries on historical principles. In the 20th century, another school of lexicography established itself, the purpose of which was explicitly to describe the conventional uses of words in the contemporary language, relegating etymology and archaic senses of words to a subsidiary role. Since the late 1980s, lexicography has begun to respond to the opportunities offered by computer technology, in particular the use of computers to collect and process evidence of word use on a very large scale.