Outline (Draft)



  1. Thesis: In the 17th century, grammar texts ruled the English language while dictionaries virtually did not exist. In 18th century, dictionaries were widely used because they included grammar while grammar texts became nearly irrelevant.

  1. Johnson’s Dictionary

  1. Reasons that Prompted the Writing of the Dictionary

  1. Dissatisfaction with the existing dictionaries

  2. Poorly organized

  3. Poor researched glossaries of words

  4. They failed to provide adequate sense of the English word as it looked in use.

  1. Setting Standards for English Lexicon

  1. Johnson illustrated word meanings through literary quotation

  2. Added notes on the usage of a word

  3. Introduced prejudice and humor into definitions

  4. His work depicted meticulousness with his definitions and illustrations as well

  1. The Authority Shift from Grammarians to Lexicographers

  1. Johnson’s dictionary established a method for how a dictionary ought to be compiled

  2. The dictionary also presented a pattern for how word entries must be presented

  1. Dictionaries and Grammar texts in the 17th century

  1. Functions and components of Dictionaries

  1. Dictionaries were rudimentary in form

  2. They offered short to definitions to words

  3. Dictionaries were written in English

  1. Comparison of Dictionaries and Grammar Texts

  1. Grammar texts used different methods to establish vocabulary and grammar unlike dictionaries that only offered definitions.

  2. While dictionaries were in English, grammar texts were still written in Latin and Latin-English word lists.

  1. Evaluation of the Changing Authority of Decision Making between Grammarians and Lexicographers

  1. In the 17th century, the decision making was under the Grammarians

  2. The shift in authority began in early 18th century with an influx of grammar texts that called for the need for vocabulary meaning

  3. Johnson’s dictionary that established the standard for how dictionaries should be compiled only proved to contribute to this change in authority.

  1. Conclusion

Thechanging authority in decision formulating between grammarians andlexicographers is more of an overturn. In the 17thcentury, the grammarians made decisions on grammar usage while in theearly 18thcentury, the lexicographers assumed the role with the publication ofJohnson’s Dictionary.


Johnson,S. (1775). ADictionary of the English Language.London: Consortium.

Mitchell,L. (2005). Johnson Among the Early Modern Grammarians. InternationalJournal Of Lexicography, 18(2), 203-216.http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ijl/eci021