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1 82Reviews SamuelJohnson's Dictionary and the Eighteenth-Century World of Words. 2006. Giovanni Iamartino and Robert DeMaria,Jr., eds. Textus: English Studies in Italy XIX (1). Pp. 264.* This special issue of Textus marks the 250th anniversary of Dr. Johnson 's Dictionary of the English Language. The articles create an insightful picture ofJohnson's rich, many-faceted work that continues to yield new insight and appreciation. Article topics vary widely — from examinations of the Dictionary's representation of subject fields to grammar and lexicon. Several key themes run throughout the issue: • Johnson's attitude towards Scotland, Scots, and Scottish dialects. • Lexicographical prescriptivism vs. descriptivism. • The connection between Johnson's dictionary entries and his life, character, and beliefs. • Johnson's association with Italy. Robert DeMaria, North and South inJohnson's Dictionary DeMaria discussesJohnson's personal attraction to the cultures of the south (specifically, Italy) vs. his increasing recognition of the importance of the northern (i.e., Germanic) roots of the language and culture of Britain. The intellectual and cultural environment of mid-18th century Britain, with its traditional pull towards the south, was moderated by the discoveries of the new philology, and this linguistic advance is reflected in Johnson's own position . Changes from his original "Scheme" through his Plan of an English Dictionary and finally to the Dictionary's Preface evidence this new approach. AlthoughJohnson 's Dictionary is conventionally famous for its Latinate character, De Maria reminds us that it included far fewer Latinisms than many earlier English dictionaries: "The presence of so much Anglo-Saxon in his book shows that, despite his reputation for Latinate speech, Johnson understood that the roots of English are Germanic and that many of its Latinate words were mere inventions never actually used in good English writing" (19). However, 'Editor's note: normally Dictionaries does not review issues of scholarly journals , but this one, on Johnson, is clearly germane to our profession. In the future , we will likely have more such reviews. Readers are encouraged to bring relevant special issues ofjournals to my attention or to the attention of the review editor — WF Dictionaries:Journal ofthe Dictionary Sodety ofNorth America 28 (2007), 182-189 Reviews1 83 DeMaria concludes that althoughJohnson's studies led him to an appreciation of the importance of the Germanic history of English, his heart to a large extent remained in Italy. Chris P. Pearce, Recovering the 'Rigour of Interpretative Lexicography*: Border Crossings inJohnson's Dictionary Pearce argues that we need to look at Johnson's work with a more relaxed eye. For example, the entries in his dictionary are not structured the way modern dictionary entries are, and without this knowledge, "we obscure the special character of Johnson's philology in the Dictionary" (34). Johnson engaged in "border crossing" in entries. His etymological brackets were not always restricted to etymology, for example, but might include commentary of various kinds. For Pearce, Johnson's entries consist of a text and a metatext respectively , those parts of an entry where 'Johnson's personal voice recedes or seems absent" (41) (e.g., headword, definition, and illustrative quotation) and those places "where Johnson's voice is foregrounded or seems present" (41) (as in usage notes and etymology). Still, not all ofJohnson's etymologies can reasonably be categorized as metatext. Pearce himself provides an example in gigkt, where Johnson's voice is not "present." The etymology is given in a way not very different from what one would find in a present-day dictionary: "V3ecßl, Saxon; geyl, Dutch; gilkt, Scottish, is still retained.]" (45). Pearce also discusses Johnson's treatment of dialect and other nonstandard terms, and implies that usage notes are generally prescriptive. However , he does acknowledge thatJohnson's comments about cant and provincial senses, as in the entry micher, may have a bona fide lexicographical purpose as "an additional piece of semantic data which may be relevant to how the word is actually used in the Shakespeare and Sidney passages" (49) . But such examples should not be treated as exceptions. A usage note can be as descriptive as any other element of a dictionary entry, and as important, if it correctly articulates a common attitude of the speech community towards a...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2160-5076
Print ISSN
0197-6745
Pages
pp. 182-189
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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