Proposal for the Publication of a New English Dictionary by The Philological Society
- Dictionaries: Journal of the Dictionary Society of North America
- Dictionary Society of North America
- Number 8, 1986
- pp. 179-215
- Additional Information
PROPOSAL FOR THE PUBLICATION OF ANEW ENGLISH DICTIONARY BY THE PHILOLOGICAL SOCIETY In the year 1857 the Philological Society determined to form a collection of words hitherto unregistered in the Dictionaries of Johnson and Richardson, with a view of publishing a supplementary volume, which might be used with either of those works. A committee was appointed, circulars were issued, and the public as well as members of the Society were invited to take part in the work. The success of the experiment was so encouraging, that some members of the Society, unwilling that the energies thus brought into play should be expended in the production of a work necessarily of a subordinate and imperfect character, strongly urged the propriety of extending the scheme to the compilation of a new and more Scientific Dictionary than any at present existing. This proposal was, after much deliberation, entertained and accepted, and the Philological Society, at its meeting of January 7, 1858, resolved that, instead of the Supplement to the standard English Dictionaries, then in the course of preparation by the Society's Unregistered Words Committee, a New Dictionary of the English Language should be prepared under the authority of the Philological Society. The work has been placed by the Society in the hands of two Committees; the one Literary and Historical, consisting of the Very Rev. the Dean of Westminster, F. J. Furnivall, Esq., and H. Coleridge, Esq., Secretary; and the other Etymological, consisting of Hensleigh Wedgwood, Esq., and Professor Maiden; and the former of these Committees will edit the Dictionary and direct the general working of the scheme. Arrangements for the publication of the work in 5i. Parts have been made with Messrs. Trübner and Co., of Paternoster Row. The object of the present Prospectus is twofold: first, to lay before the public, as concisely as possible, the main outlines of 179 180Proposal for A New English Dictionary the plan upon which the New Dictionary will be constructed, and to ask from that public such further help in the reading and noting of books as will enable the plan to be carried out satisfactorily; and, secondly, to furnish our contributors with such a system of mies as will direct them to the principal points to be attended to in perusing and analysing the books they may undertake, and also ensure general uniformity in the results arrived at. It will of course be understood that we cannot, within the limits of a mere circular like the present, do more than state the conclusions at which we have arrived, without attempting to enter into any arguments in their behalf, or any refutations by anticipation of possible objections. The whole subject will be most naturally and conveniently discussed in the preface to the work itself, and we must reserve our defence, if any be thought necessary, until that appears. Those who may wish for further satisfaction as to our lexicographical creed, than what can be gathered from this Prospectus, are referred to the Dean of Westminster's Essay "On some Deficiencies in our English Dictionaries," which leaves no important portion of the subject unnoticed. I. We may begin then by stating that, according to our view, the first requirement of every lexicon is, that it should contain every word occurring in the literature of the language it professes to illustrate. We entirely repudiate the theory, which converts the lexicographer into an arbiter of style, and leaves it in his discretion to accept or reject words according to his private notions of their comparative elegance or inelegance. In the case of the dead language, such as Greek, no lexicon of any pretensions would omit the ?pa? ?e??µe?a of Lycophron, or the experimental coinages of Aristophanes and the other comedians; and as we are unable to perceive any difference between a dead and living language, so far as lexicographical treatment is concerned, it follows that we cannot refuse to admit words into the Dictionary which may not be sanctioned by the usage of more than one writer, or be conformable in their structure to our ideas of taste. However worthless they may be in themselves, they testify to a tendency of language, and on...