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  • Cited by 3
Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
September 2020
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Book description

How did a single genre of text have the power to standardise the English language across time and region, rival the Bible in notions of authority, and challenge our understanding of objectivity, prescription, and description? Since the first monolingual dictionary appeared in 1604, the genre has sparked evolution, innovation, devotion, plagiarism, and controversy. This comprehensive volume presents an overview of essential issues pertaining to dictionary style and content and a fresh narrative of the development of English dictionaries throughout the centuries. Essays on the regional and global nature of English lexicography (dictionary making) explore its power in standardising varieties of English and defining nations seeking independence from the British Empire: from Canada to the Caribbean. Leading scholars and lexicographers historically contextualise an array of dictionaries and pose urgent theoretical and methodological questions relating to their role as tools of standardisation, prestige, power, education, literacy, and national identity.


‘Among the topics that crosscut the essays are the policy, purpose, and philosophy of various dictionaries, along with the evidence and technology that drive them and the economic factors that constrain them. But equally valuable, particularly for nonspecialists, will be the bits of dictionary lore that contributors bring to their work. Replete with useful illustrations, tables, and reproductions of dictionary entries, the work also provides a guide to further reading and a chronology of dictionaries and important events. This is a welcome addition to the literature on English language and linguistics. Highly Recommended.’

E. L. Battistella Source: Choice

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