By Kusujiro Miyoshi
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Additional info for Johnson's and Webster's Verbal Examples: With Special Reference to Examplifying Usage in Dictionary Entries (Lexicographica)
Webster’s divisions of the subject, “Grammar consists of four parts; viz. Orthography, Prosody, Analogy [Etymology] and Syntax”, follows a tradition used by the Latin grammarians. His definition of grammar, “Grammar is the art of speaking and writing our thoughts with propriety”, also follows a tradition of Latin grammars (Ikeda 1999:67) Ikeda also claimed that Webster had lost interest in Latin grammar by the year 1787. He compared the second and third editions of Webster’s Grammatical Institute, Part II, quoting the following passage from its second edition: How many are the parts of speech?
1 His Strong Language Awareness Concerning Webster’s Dictionary, it is common knowledge that its encyclopaedic aspect has almost always been emphasized. However, at the end of the “Preface” to his Dictionary, Webster stated the following: If the language can be improved in regularity, so as to be more easily acquired by our own citizens, and by foreigners, and thus be rendered a more useful instrument for the propagation of science, arts, civilization and Christianity; if it can be rescued from the mischievous influence of sciolists and that dabbling spirit of innovation which is perpetually disturbing its settled usages and filling it with anomalies; if, in short, our vernacular language can be redeemed from corruptions, and our philology and literature from degradation; it would be a source of great satisfaction to me to be one 16 among the instruments of promoting these valuable objects.
He began the “Introduction” with the following words: Language or Speech is the utterance of articulate sounds or voices, rendered significant by usage, for the expression and communication of thoughts. (Webster 1828: n. pag. [1st (par. 1) in the “Introduction”]) This view of language is similar to Johnson’s, except for an emphasis on usage which I will refer to later in this sub-section. 2, Johnson thought that language was oral at the outset. However, in addition to the words above, Webster also stated: Language is that which is uttered by the tongue, and if men do not write the language as it is spoken by the great body of respectable people, they do not write the real language.
Johnson's and Webster's Verbal Examples: With Special Reference to Examplifying Usage in Dictionary Entries (Lexicographica) by Kusujiro Miyoshi