- Forgotten but important lexicographers: John Wilkins and William Lloyd. A modern approach to lexicography before Johnson By Fredric Dolezal (review)
- Linguistic Society of America
- Volume 62, Number 3, September 1986
- pp. 702-703
- View Citation
- Additional Information
702 LANGUAGE, VOLUME 62, NUMBER 3 (1986) (Clásicos para una biblioteca contempor ánea, 43). Madrid: Editora Nacional, 1984. Pp. 541. Ptas. 800. One of the main projects of the Real Academia Española de la Lengua—founded in 1713, after the model ofthe French Academy (1635)— was the publication of an authoritative grammar . It must be said that the Spanish academicians were much more efficient than the French 'immortals', who finally published the Grammaire de l'Académie in 1932 (a worthless product, which was torn to pieces by no less an authority than F. Brunot). It also seems that the Spanish Academy was relatively free of sterile discussions and internal rivalries. Inspired and stimulated by the work of their countrymen (A. Nebrija, B. Jiménez Patón, G. Correas, and authors ofLatin grammars such as M. Alvarez and F. Sanctius), and taking into account the work of foreign grammarians (e.g. J.-C. Scaliger, L. Chiflet, Cl. Lancelot, and Cl. Buffier), the Spanish academicians produced an impressive number ofdissertations which served as preparatory documents for the final grammar (a useful list of these is given by Sarmiento in his introduction pp. 30-36; see also his articles 'Inventario de documentos gramaticales de los siglos XVIII y XIX', Boletín de la Real Academia Española 57.129-42, 1977, and 'La gramática de la Academia : Historia de una metodología', ibid. 59.435-46, 1978). In 1771, the grammar of the Real Academia (encouraged by the King and his ministers) saw the light. This 376-page work, photostatically reprinted here with its 'Prólogo', is not a monument oforiginality orofsystematic description; but as a historical document, it is very important . It reminds one of the elaborate French grammars published between 1680 and 1730: like these, it is centered around the nine parts of speech (noun, pronoun, article, verb, participle , adverb, preposition, conjunction, and interjection) with more than half the text being devoted to verbal paradigms and to the use of prepositions with verbs. The chapters on adverbs and prepositions are also quite extensive , because they contain a detailed semantic classification of the relevant items (cf. F.-S. Régnier-Desmarais's 1705 grammar of French). Syntax is restricted to a brief, Port-Royal based treatment of concord and government, as in most 17th and early 18th century grammars (see my 'Grammaire et logique à Port-Royal', Sprachwissenschaft 9.333-52, 1984). All these long lists of adverbs, prepositions, and conjunctions (the uninflected parts of speech), as well as of verb + preposition combinations, result in a grammar/dictionary—a genre particularly popular in the first halfofthe 18th century —of which the index (pp. 349-76 in the original, here pp. 467-94) can serve as a dictionary of verb conjugations. This grammar, restricted to morphology and syntax (the latter only partially), is of course a product ofits time, and it would make no sense to criticize it from our modern point of view. Sarmiento's valuable introduction (9-81), partly based on his 1974 doctoral dissertation Aportaci ón a la historia de la gramática de la RAE (1771), has the great merit of retracing the growth ofthe grammar and ofclarifying its epistemological position within 17th and 18th century grammatical theory and practice. S sketches the history ofthe project and discusses the grammatical description given in the Gram ática from the viewpoint of the history of grammatical concepts. I would perhaps agree less with S when he ascribes a 'three parts of speech' theory to the Gramática (noun, verb, particle): such a theory is attested in the preparatory documents, but in the grammar itself I find no explicit reduction of the nine parts of speech. Again, the extremely interesting theory of Claude Buffier (1709) is not accurately described (see my 'Grammaire et théorie du langage chez Buffier', Dix-huitième siècle 15.28593 , 1983). All in all, this book is a welcome re-edition of the first grammar of the Spanish Academy, with a well-documented introduction by a specialist in the field. Unfortunately, the introduction has many misprints, especially in Greek words and proper names (e.g., p. 37, read 'Regnier -Desmarais'; p. 79, 'Sebeok...