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.
Reasons that Prompted the Writing of the Dictionary
Dissatisfaction with the existing dictionaries
Poor researched glossaries of words
They failed to provide adequate sense of the English word as it looked in use.
Setting Standards for English Lexicon
Johnson illustrated word meanings through literary quotation
Added notes on the usage of a word
Introduced prejudice and humor into definitions
His work depicted meticulousness with his definitions and illustrations as well
The Authority Shift from Grammarians to Lexicographers
Johnson’s dictionary established a method for how a dictionary ought to be compiled
The dictionary also presented a pattern for how word entries must be presented
Dictionaries and Grammar texts in the 17th century
Functions and components of Dictionaries
Dictionaries were rudimentary in form
They offered short to definitions to words
Dictionaries were written in English
Comparison of Dictionaries and Grammar Texts
Grammar texts used different methods to establish vocabulary and grammar unlike dictionaries that only offered definitions.
While dictionaries were in English, grammar texts were still written in Latin and Latin-English word lists.
Evaluation of the Changing Authority of Decision Making between Grammarians and Lexicographers
In the 17th century, the decision making was under the Grammarians
The shift in authority began in early 18th century with an influx of grammar texts that called for the need for vocabulary meaning
Johnson’s dictionary that established the standard for how dictionaries should be compiled only proved to contribute to this change in authority.
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