Writing the History of English Lexicography: Is there a History of English Lexicography after Starnes and Noyes?
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" [...] Fredric Dolezal's "Writing the history of English lexicography," opens up some of the most important questions addressed in the collection as a whole. How, Dolezal asks, do we write the history of English lexicography? DeWitt Starnes and Gertrude Noyes's _The English dictionary from Cawdrey to Johnson_ has been unsuperseded for sixty years, a tribute to its accuracy and clarity. But the long reign of a standard authority may have a deadening effect on a field of inquiry: when Gabriele Stein wrote a short introduction to a facsimile reprint published in 1991, she noted that Research on the dictionaries studied by Professor Starnes and Professor Noyes has generally focussed on identifying further sources and interdependencies between individual works revealing the lexicographical methods used by the compilers. (Stein 1991, xi). This sort of Quellenforschung is extremely useful as far as it goes, but it is inevitably limited in its intellectual ambitions and in its appeal to non-specialist readers. The chronological range of Starnes and Noyes's book is also limited, and although the period up to 1604 has been surveyed by Stein in _The English dictionary before Cawdrey_ (1985), for Anglophone lexicography after 1755 the only monographic overview appears to be Jonathon Green's popular _Chasing the sun_ (1996). Dolezal sketched some of the possibilities for a history of English lexicography after Starnes and Noyes in his review of the reprint edition (Dolezal 1996: “Tracing the History of English Lexicography”, American Speech, ), and now opens up these possibilities much further. So, for instance, he reflects upon and challenges the application of concepts such as "influence" and "borrowing" to the history of lexicography (and indeed "plagiarism," with which cf. Landau 2001, 402-4); questions the relationship of the history of dictionaries to literary history; and discusses the relationship between typology and chronology as ordering principles. Dolezal's critical questioning encourages further questions inspired by his. Is "the English dictionary" itself a useful rubric: what might a History of the dictionary in Britain look like? Could a single author write it? Sooner or later, the time will come for The English dictionary from Cawdrey to Johnson to be superseded, and whoever undertakes the work will have to take careful heed of Dolezal's arguments." -- John Considine, Extract from the "INTRODUCTION", _Words and Dictionaries from the British Isles in Historical Perspective_. edited by J. Considine and Giovanni Iamartino. 2007. p. ix.