In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

THE DICTIONARY OF LEXICAL INNOVATION IN EARLY MODERN ENGLISH, 1500-1599 Margaret Cooper Language as a whole, and vocabulary in particular, is both an implement and an indicator of the development of civilization. A work of reference and interpretation that begins to collate and elucidate some of the information available would be of great value. The Dictionary of Lexical Innovation in Early Modern English, 1500 to 1599 (DLI) will cover only the first half of the span of the Tudor and Stuart period dictionary proposed by Craigie, who claimed of this era that its "riches are almost inexhaustible."1 It is designed to give a clear picture of the characteristics of vocabulary in this period, particularly with regard to the relative importance of both word-borrowing and wordformation . The imbalance in treatment of, and consequence accorded to, these factors (generally much biased in favour of wordborrowing ) prompted an investigatory study "Toward a Dictionary of Loanwords in English, 1500 — 1700" (Cooper, 1979). This dissertation examines the vocabulary of every tenth year between 1500 and 1700, as listed in A Chronological English Dictionary (CED),1 arranging the words year by year in sections according to language of origin. These are categorised as adoptions, adaptions (together comprising loan-words) or English formations, according to The Oxford English Dictionary (OED).3 The pilot study allows examination of the levels and areas of influence of the various source languages, and of the levels and types of wordformation in specific years. Most noticeable is the fact that over half the words making first appearances in this period were formations . This is in direct contrast to the impression of the period given by many histories of the language. Baugh states that "By far the greater part of the additions to the English vocabulary in the period of the Renaissance was drawn from sources outside of English."4 The DLI retains the basic format of the pilot study, and is based on the CED. The latter lists chronologically all the words given as main entries in The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, Third edition, reprinted 1964, including Addenda (SOED),5 and though initiating an advance in the methodological study of lexical history, is inadequate in many areas. This is perhaps most easily seen in 65 66Dictionary of Lexical Innovation the editorial decision to exclude English word-formation as an etymological category, which has necessitated several peculiar "rules," e.g., the source of the first element of a compound word is given for the etymology. It is also poor in format as it is difficult to extract information from the many numerical codes, which are of themselves prone to typographical errors. This last point, together with that of the poor arrangement on the page, may perhaps be accounted for by the fact that it is an early commerical computer-dictionary, although the DLI has not encountered any significant difficulties in these areas. The DLI'is the product of a computer data-base which will contain all the words listed in the CED for the years 1500 to 1599. The study that preceded the DLI was carried out manually. As the work progressed, it was necessary to make alterations in method as entries were discovered which would not fit into the old framework. These, of course, affected all the work which was already completed. It was decided that the computer's capacity for storage, merging and sorting of data, the flexible access and retrieval that it provides, and the editorial facilities for addition, revision and deletion, would be of immense value. It is important to note that this value is limited; while it may impose a structure on a fuzzy system, the mechanical regulations must be subject to higher logical considerations. Several software packages were examined to see if they might suit the project, but as these would have required much adaptation (in unfamiliar languages), it seemed worthwhile writing a suite of programs, which could easily be tailored to reflect the character of the materials as it developed. The DLI data-base may be easily updated in the future — perhaps to incorporate all the relevant words in the OED, or those collections for The Dictionary of Early Modern English, which have...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
2160-5076
Print ISSN
0197-6745
Pages
pp. 65-86
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.