Wednesday, February 01, 2017


The Joy of Lexicography

Alexander Souter (1873-1949), "Preface," A Glossary of Later Latin to 600 A.D. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1949), pp. v-vi:
Lexicographers can claim to know some of the joys and excitements of all explorers. We, too, have often to hack our way through tangled growths. These tangled growths are sometimes tralaticious blunders which have passed undetected, or at least unremoved, through a series of dictionaries. Texts rapidly produced for the press in the fifteenth or sixteenth century, often from late, poor, and interpolated, if readily accessible, manuscripts, have fallen under the eyes of a lexicographer who has duly recorded a word which is not what the author wrote; and this error has been copied by later lexicographers.


The joy of discovering unrecorded words is perhaps even greater, and of these there are thousands in this book that will not be found in any of the ordinary handbooks, and even a number that are not in the Thesaurus itself.
Thanks very much to the anonymous benefactor who gave me this book.

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