By Ronald A. Wells

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Then, the symbolical; so as no innovation might be us'd or favour'd; at least till there should arise some necessity of providing a new Edition, & of amplifying the old upon mature advice. That in order to this, some one were appointed to collect all the technical W o r d s . . That things difficult to be translated or express'd . . were better interpreted than as yet we find them in Dictionaries.... That a full Catalogue of exotic W o r d s . . were exhibited. . Previous to this it would be enquir'd what particular Dialects, Idiomes, and Proverbs were in use in every several Country of England, for the Words of the present age being properly the Vernacula, special reguard is to be had of them.

Charles F. Adams, VII (Boston, 1852), 249. 6 The honor of forming the first public institution for refining, correcting, improving, and ascertaining the English language, I hope is reserved for Congress; they have every motive that can possibly influence a public assembly to undertake it. It will have a happy effect upon the union of the States to have a public standard for all persons in every part of the continent to appeal to, both for the signification and pronunciation of the language. The constitutions of all the States in the Union are so democratical that eloquence will become the instrument for recommending men to their fellow-citizens, and the principal means of advancement through the various ranks and offices of society.

4. THE RECEPTION OF JOHNSON'S DICTIONARY The inevitable comparison between Johnson's Dictionary and the dictionaries of the Academie Frangaise and the Accademia della Crusca, articulated by Chesterfield 58 Johnson, "Preface", 3. Johnson, "Preface", 3. 58 Johnson, "Preface", 4. 59 Johnson, "Preface", 1. e ® Sledd and Kolb, 182. 57 44 THE AUTHORITARIAN TRADITION IN LANGUAGE: ENGLAND in his letter to the World, became a commonplace. David Garrick's epigram, "On Johnson's Dictionary", figured the lexicographer as a warrior: And Johnson, well arm'd, like a hero of yore, Has beat forty French, and will beat forty more.

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Dictionaries and the Authoritarian Tradition: Study in English Usage and Lexicography by Ronald A. Wells


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