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The history of dictionaries
From the Oxford English Dictionary in 1884 to the Webster's Dictionary of today...
A dictionary is important for a language.
An english dictionary most people need everyday. On the internet you find online free dictionaries.
Translation of words is necessary. From english to spanish, french or german!
But for example also translations from english to dutch, czech, greek, latin, romanian, italian, russian or polish.
And what to think of arabic, korean, chinese, bulgarian, hebrew or bulgarian?
A language translation dictionary is populair.
Below you can read more about the history of dictionaries.
Dictionaries are as old as mankind
The first recorded form of dictionary much to the surprise of many is dated back to the 7th century BC.
This first dictionary belongs to the library of the Ashurbanipal, the king of Assyria, Nineveh.
It was clay tablets with cuneiform inscriptions.
Followed by this in terms of chronology was the Latin dictionary by Verrius Flaccus.
The evidence of next available dictionary takes a leap to 5th century AD and later.
These dictionaries take a big leap not only in terms of chronology but, it also takes big leap in terms of Geographical location.
The 5th AD century dictionaries are Sanskrit dictionaries.
These are polyglot dictionaries in Sanskrit, Tibetan, Mongolian and Chinese.
During this time were also found dictionaries in botany, astronomy and medicine in Sanskrit.
Following these, were dictionaries in Hebrew between 6th to 8th centuries AD.
The Greeks had something similar to glossaries of unusual words and phrases rather than a comprehensive and exhaustive collection of words of their language.
The need for bilingual and multilingual dictionaries was realized at a greater magnitude with the advent of mass movement of people enabled by trade and commerce – there was a growing need to learn and master foreign languages.
One such bilingual dictionary dates back to 1502 AD, it was initially compiled by an Italian monk by name Ambrogio Calpeno. This work was later extended to incorporate Italian, French and Spanish.
The same work grew to become a massive work that had a collection of eleven languages in 1590.
After this period there was a huge explosion on the number and availability of dictionaries. It is difficult to keep track of the outburst of dictionaries and list them all after this period.
Notable Recent DictionariesRecent advances in lexicography have been made by the frequently revised collegiate or desk dictionary, an up-to-date abridgment of a large, comprehensive work. The Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (10th ed. 1993) is based on Webster's Third New International Dictionary, published in 1961; it has many notable competitors. Also notable are several modern American dictionaries of intermediate size, including the Random House Unabridged Dictionary (2d ed. 1987) and the well-illustrated American Heritage Dictionary (3d ed. 1992). In the early 1990s computer technology made possible the release of dictionaries on floppy disks or CD-ROM, e.g., the electronic edition of The Random House Unabridged Dictionary (1993). Electronic dictionaries also became available as part of multivolume reference-book packages, such as Microsoft's Bookshelf CD-ROM, and as a feature of on-line services. Computer technology provided new ways to search for and link words and new ways to illustrate them, e.g., prerecorded pronunciations that users can play back. By the end of the 1990s many dictionaries were available in various print and electronic editions; the new Encarta World English Dictionary (1999) was released both as a printed book and a CD-ROM.
Illustrative Examples and the Oxford DictionariesIn England, progress in lexicography since Walker's time has been notably in the collection and organization of examples of usage. In 1836-37, Charles Richardson (1775-1865) published, in two volumes, a dictionary richer in illustrative examples than any of its predecessors. In 1857 the Philological Society began collecting dated examples of usage. This work of the Philological Society made possible the publication of the dictionary variously known as the New English Dictionary on Historical Principles, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), and Murray's Dictionary (for Sir James A. H. Murray, 1837-1915, one of the editors). Publication of this dictionary began in 1884 and was completed in 1928, 70 years after the collecting of the material began. The 12 volumes and supplement of this monumental and unrivaled lexicon described the history of some 250,000 English words, incorporating more than 2 million citations of usage in the process of defining a total of nearly 415,000 words. A 20-volume second edition, published in 1989, incorporates the four-volume supplement and contains over 616,000 words. Two major shorter editions are published: The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English (5th ed. 1964) and the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (rev. ed. 1993). A much less ambitious but notable project is the four-volume Dictionary of American English on Historical Principles, edited by Sir William Alexander Craigie. It was completed in 1943.