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Dictionaries in Early Modern Europe: Lexicography and the Making of Heritage

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Dictionaries tell stories of many kinds. The history of dictionaries, of how they were produced, published and used, has much to tell us about the language and the culture of the past. This monumental work of scholarship draws on published and archival material to survey a wide range of dictionaries of western European languages (including English, German, Latin and Greek) published between the early sixteenth and mid -seventeenth centuries. John Considine establishes a powerful model for the social and intellectual history of lexicography by examining dictionaries both as imaginative texts and as scholarly instruments. He tells the stories of national and individual heritage and identity that were created through the making of dictionaries in the early modern period. Far from dry, factual collections of words, dictionaries are creative works, shaping as well as recording early modern culture and intellectual history.

I have, except for some single words and very short passages, given translations or paraphrases of my sources in my main text and originals in my footnotes. Quotations from vernacular languages are given in old spelling, preserving i/j and u/v variation but normalizing, e.g., vv in English to w, ‰ in Old English to g. Use of accents, cedillas and other diacritics in vernacular texts has only been normalized in the case of superscript e in German, which has been replaced by the umlaut. Quotations from Latin are normalized by the removal of diacritics and the expansion of digraphs; & is retained for et, and the expansion of other abbreviations is indicated. Quotations from Greek are normalized by the expansion of all ligatured and abbreviated forms. Black-letter and Anglo-Saxon typefaces are given in italics. Underlinings in manuscript are represented by underlinings.

The forms of names are always a problem in the intellectual history of this period. If in doubt as to whether to cite a given name in vernacular or classicizing form, I have generally preferred the one that seemed more familiar to me. (For what it’s worth, my earlier intention was to give vernacular forms wherever this would not be positively absurd, i.e., Melanchthon rather than Schwarzerd but van Gorp rather than Goropius and Zsa´mboky rather than Sambucus – but as the years went by, this arrangement seemed increasingly unsatisfactory, and Goropius and Sambucus, among others, had their learned names restored to them.) I have given alternative forms of some names in parentheses where they first appear. Classical Greek names and a few later ones have generally been Latinized, and a few Greek and Latin names have been Anglicized, familiarity being the criterion again: Marcus Musurus, not Markos Mousouros; Aristotle, not Aristoteles. The form of Byzantine Greek names generally follows the usage of the Oxford dictionary of Byzantium.

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