This is the first volume in the trilogy Dictionaries in the English-Speaking World, 1500-1800, which will offer a new history of lexicography in and beyond the early modern British Isles. The volume explores the dictionaries, wordlists, and glossaries that were compiled and read by speakers of English from the end of the Middle Ages to the year 1600. These include the first printed dictionaries in which English words were collected; the dictionaries of Latin used by all educated English-speakers, from young children to Shakespeare to adult royalty; the dictionaries of modern languages that gave English-speakers access to the languages and cultures of continental Europe; dictionaries and wordlists documenting other languages from Armenian to Malagasy to Welsh; and a great variety of specialized English wordlists. No unified history has ever surveyed this vast, lively, and culturally significant lexicographical output before.
The guiding principle of the book, and the trilogy, is that a story about dictionaries must also be a story about human beings. John Considine offers a full and sympathetic account of those who compiled and used these works, and those who supported them financially, paying particular attention to records of dictionary use and its traces in surviving copies. The volume will appeal to all those interested in the languages and literary cultures of the sixteenth-century English-speaking world.
About the author
John Considine is Professor in the Department of English and Film Studies at the University of Alberta, specializing in lexicography, the history of the English language, early modern British literature and culture, and the history of the book. Among his recent publications is Dictionaries in Early Modern Europe: Lexicography and Making Heritage. He is currently at work on a sequel.