What Samuel Johnson Really Did

1 January 2018

Although the people who have made the dictionaries in the 17th century and the 18th century had released some dictionaries, Samuel Jackson’s dictionary which is called “Dictionary of the English language” which was published in 1755. His dictionary has made the standards for dictionaries in America and England. His dictionary also made a massive change and transform in language authority from grammarians (who study grammar and writes grammar books) into lexicographers (who write dictionaries). Dictionaries in the past in the 17th century considered as and unskillfully written list of definitions synonyms that were not pretty well-developed definitions to translate foreign languages such as the French and Latin languages. But the grammar texts contain many components of the words like the definitions, pronunciation, spelling, usage notes and entomology.

The word “codification” refers to the style and process. By which the language had made these methods followed by the creation and the use of language guides, the grammar textbook, style, and dictionaries. It is very important to know that “Codification” continues the process. The most important thing in the codification of English was in the 18th century. It was specialized with the publication of 100’s of dictionary and grammar. This contains dictionaries like Samuel Johnson’s monumental dictionary in 1755.

The English language dictionary is published on the 15th of April 1755, written by Samuel Johnson. The dictionary was sometimes called “Johnson’s dictionary” it’s one of the most effective or influential dictionaries in the history of ‘English language’. But there was discontent with the dictionaries of the time. So a group of London booksellers in June 1746 made a deal with Johnson to write a dictionary for money of 1500 “Guineas” it was their money at that time. It equals to 220 thousand pounds, in 2017. It took him a time of seven years to complete the dictionary although he said he can finish it in 3 years. And remarkably, he did it by himself with only clerical help to copy out the illustrative quotation that he had highlighted in books. He made many revised editions during his life career.
Until the completion of “Oxford English dictionary” one hundred seventy-three years later, Jonson’s dictionary was viewed as the surpassing English dictionary. “The dictionary easily ranks as one of the greatest single achievements of scholarship, and probably the greatest ever performed by one individual who labored under anything like the disadvantages in a comparable length of time” (Jackson, W. 1977).

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