Kernerman Dictionary News • Number 16 • July 2008
Gazophylacium Anglicanum (1689), a turning point in the history of the general
The anonymously compiled Gazophylacium Anglicanum (1689) is a dictionary of English etymology that has seldom been discussed seriously among authorities. De Witt Starnes and Gertrude Noyes (1946: 67) and Martin Wakelin (1987: 161) criticized it as being a poor translation of Stephen Skinner’s highly-acclaimed Etymologicon Linguae Anglicanae (1671), a type of English-Latin bilingual dictionary that provides etymological information on English words in Latin. However, when the Gazophylacium is compared with J.K.’s New English Dictionary (NED, 1702), which Sidney Landau (1984: 44) called “a turning point in English lexicography” for its first treatment of an abundance of daily words, it becomes clear that the Gazophylacium was actually instrumental in bringing about this “turning point”, exerting considerable influence on J.K.’s NED. At the same time, this also means that the Gazophylacium was, regardless of its quality, a bridge between the tradition of the English-Latin dictionary until Skinner’s Etymologicon, which the Gazophylacium is based on, and that of the general English dictionary after J.K.’s NED.
Gazphylacium, turning point, English lexicography
In this paper I discuss the relations between two historical English dictionaries. One is the Gazophylacium Anglicanum (Gazophylacium), an etymological dictionary published in 1689 by an anonymous author, and the other is the New English Dictionary (NED), a general dictionary published in 1702 by an author who is known only by his initials, J.K.
As to the Gazophylacium,
the title being in Latin, it was actually compiled in English. This
dictionary is not widely known, having seldom been discussed seriously until
today. The reason for this is that
the dictionary has usually been regarded as little more than a poor
translation of Stephen Skinner’s acclaimed Etymologicon Linguae Anglicanae (Etymologicon), published in
Concerning J.K.’s NED, this is widely acknowledged as the first English dictionary that treated a high number of daily words, thus divorcing from the tendency in the general English dictionary to lay particular emphasis on hard words of foreign origin. Referring to this point, Whitney Bolton (1982: 241) remarked that J.K. “managed to include about 28,000 words [in NED], most of which had never before appeared in an English dictionary,” and Sidney Landau (1984: 44) expressed his opinion that J.K.’s NED caused “a turning point in English lexicography.”
In this way, the Gazophylacium and J.K.’s NED are in sharp contrast to each other in two respects: their types and the experts’ assessment of them. In spite of such differences, however, it is likely that J.K. perused the Gazophylacium as essential background material for his Dictionary. J.K. himself did not make any mention of the Gazophylacium anywhere in his dictionary, but if his NED is actually based on the Gazophylacium, it means that the Gazophylacium was, regardless of its quality, instrumental in bringing about “a turning point in English lexicography,” thus, at the same time, being a bridge between the tradition of the English-Latin dictionary until Skinner’s Etymologicon, which the Gazophylacium is based on, and that of the general English dictionary after J.K.’s NED.
My purpose in this paper is to provide historical evidence to support this possibility. In order to achieve this purpose, I will firstly aim to formulate a hypothesis that indicates the certainty of J.K.’s reference to the Gazophylacium by analyzing words that are contained in six general English dictionaries from Robert Cawdrey’s Table Alphabeticall (Table), the first general English dictionary published in 1604, to J.K.’s NED. By performing this task, it will also be rediscovered how unique J.K.’s NED is in terms of the words contained in it. Secondly, I will aim to verify the hypothesis by means of comparing J.K.’s NED with the Gazophylacium, thus trying to clarify the relations of the former to the latter.
Two procedures are adopted in the paper. One is that I regard the English dictionary that experts have termed the “dictionary of hard words,” or some early English dictionaries which almost exclusively treated hard words, as a type of general English dictionary. The other is that, by analyzing the bodies of related dictionaries, I take up entries on words beginning with the letter L; as Joseph Reed (1962: 95), remarked in his analysis of another English dictionary, this portion is a sample of convenient size and has the added virtue of its position in the dictionary.
Formulating a Hypothesis: J.K.’s Dictionary in the First 100 Years of the General English Dicitonary
In preparation for formulating the hypothesis concerning J.K.’s reference to the Gazophylacium, I want to show how the lexicographers of the early general English dictionaries selected words to be contained in their works. And, in doing this task, I will also have to clear up a prevailing misconception among experts.
As far as I can judge, quite a
few authorities seem to hold the view that such lexicographers devoted
themselves to increasing words in their dictionaries in an arbitrary manner
for approximately the first 100 years beginning with Cawdrey’s Table.
For instance, according to Daisuke Nagashima (1988: 69), “The total entry count
In this opinion of Nagashima’s, it is not necessarily wrong that for the first 100 years general English lexicographers tended to include greater numbers of words in their dictionaries than their predecessors had done. However, it can be misleading to regard this practice, as Nagashima did, as having been carried out in a wayward or arbitrary manner.
To put it precisely, during
the first century since Cawdrey’s Table, five other general English
dictionaries were published. They are John Bullokar’s English Expositor
(Expositor, 1616), Henry Cockeram’s English Dictionarie (Dictionarie,
1623), Edward Phillips’ New World of English Words (
This fact will be clearly understood when we examine entries on words beginning with the letter L in each of the six dictionaries, including Cawdrey’s, and arrange the results in chronological order, which I did, resulting in the following list:
(1) Cawdrey’s Table (1604) and Bullokar’s Expositor (1616)
While Cawdrey included 59 words in the L’s in his Table, Bullokar had 121 words, or 2.1 times more than Cawdrey, within the same range in his Expositor. However, Bullokar disregarded 29, or 49.2%, of the 59 words Cawdrey had treated.
(2) Bullokar’s Expositor (1616) and Cockeram’s Dictionarie (1623)
Cockeram included 428 words, or 3.5 times more words than Bullokar, in the L’s in his Dictionarie. However, Cockeram disregarded 34, or 28.1%, of the 121 words Bullokar had treated.
(3) Cockeram’s Dictionarie (1623) and
included 508 words, or 1.2 times more words than Cockeram, in the L’s in his
Coles included 1,163 words, or 2.3 times more words than Phillips, in the L’s in his Dictionary. However, Coles disregarded 43, or 8.5%, of the 508 words Phillips had treated.
(5) Coles’ Dictionary (1676) and J.K.’s NED (1702)
J.K. included 841 words, or 30% less words than Coles, in the L’s in his NED. Besides, J.K. disregarded 941, or 80.9%, of the 1,163 words Coles had treated.
On the premise of what I have
discussed so far, it should be acknowledged that this list also reveals
especially notable facts about two dictionaries, Phillips’
What, then, is the reason for
this? Actually, Phillips’
If we see the historical
background of each of Phillips’
In contrast to the cases of
Verifying the Hypothesis: Word Selection
When we begin to collate J.K.’s NED with the Gazophylacium in the order mentioned, a surprising fact is immediately revealed. This is what I mentioned in the list in the previous section, but J.K. included 841 words within the range of the L’s in his NED. Out of the 841 words, 212 are also found in the Gazophylacium. On the side of J.K.’s NED, these 212 words, which account for 25% of all words in the L’s in NED, may seem small in number. However, on the side of the Gazophylacium, it contains 296 words within the range of the L’s. This means that the 212 words account for as many as 71.6% of all words in the L’s in the Gazophylacium. This fact seems to strongly indicate the fact that J.K. quite frequently referred to words in the Gazophylacium. Furthermore, it is also notable that most of the 212 words contained in both J.K.’s NED and the Gazophylacium, are everyday English words such as label, lack, lad, lavender, law, lazy, lentil, lest, liable, log and lot. As I have already pointed out, these are a type of word that has been regarded by experts as characteristic of J.K.’s NED.
Here, there may arise a question about the possibility that general English dictionaries before J.K.’s contain several of the 212 words. In fact, 74 words of them are also contained in one or both of Bullokar’s Expositor and Cockeram’s Dictionarie. However, as to the remaining 138 words of the 212, they only appear in the Gazophylacium and J.K.’s NED.
In this way, when we compare words in J.K.’s NED and the Gazophylacium, we can acknowledge the possibility that the former was strongly influenced by the latter.
Verifying the Hypothesis: Definitions
While J.K.’s selection of
words contained in his NED
has generally been highly praised, his way of defining them has sometimes
been criticized as being cursory. Concerning this point, Landau (1982: 44)
remarked that NED “is allied to spelling books, which had included common
words but without definitions,” and
Specifically, J.K. provided the same definitions in his NED as the author of the Gazophylacium did with his etymological notes. Examples are:
the Gazophylacium: from the Fr. G. [Modern French] Laisses, the dung of wild beasts
J.K.’s NED: the dung of wild beasts.
the Gazophylacium: from the Fr. G. [Modern French] Leverant, Levreteau, young Hare
J.K.’s NED: a young hare
the Gazophylacium: from the Fr. G. [Modern French] Liable, obnoxious, exposed to
J.K.’s NED: expos’d to
We can find such definitions in 52 entries within the respective ranges of the L’s in J.K.’s NED and the Gazophylacium. There will be almost no problem to regard these definitions as traces of J.K.’s reliance on the Gazophylacium.
Verifying the Hypothesis: Grammatical Information
In indicating entry-words in NED, J.K. usually put the preposition to before the verb and the indefinite article before the countable noun. Specifically, he provided such entry-words as To Last, To Leather, A Latch and A Lemmon. It may be interesting, in passing, to note that this practice brought about independent entries as the following:
Level, even or plain
To Level, or make level
Love, amity, affection, or kindness
To Love, have love, or inclination for
Within the range of the L’s in NED, J.K. put the preposition to before 78 verb entry-words, and the indefinite article before 338 countable noun entry-words.
Before J.K.’s NED, such a way of providing grammatical information on entry-words had not been adopted by the lexicographers of the general English dictionary, with rare exceptions; as to such cases, Cockeram applied it in a supplementary part to the main in his Dictionarie, which is comprised of what he termed “vulgar words”, and Phillips put the indefinite article before 4 countable noun entry-words within the range of the L’s in his New World.
What, then, has motivated J.K. to apply the practice so frequently? The only answer to this question will be the influence of the Gazophylacium on him. Within the L’s in the Gazophylacium, its author put the preposition to before 52 verb entry-words and the indefinite article before the same number of countable noun entry-words.
If I refer to the case of the English-Latin bilingual dictionary here, it seems that in this field the practice that J.K. and the author of the Gazophylacium applied can be traced back to the 15th century. Concerning this point, Gabriele Stein (1985: 112) pointed out that in an anonymously compiled English-Latin dictionary entitled the Catholicon Anglicum, which was published in 1483, “countable nouns are preceded by the indefinite article, uncountable nouns by a zero determiner” regarding the entry-words. This practice apparently became a tradition in the compilation of the English-Latin bilingual dictionary, being handed down to Skinner when he compiled the Etymologicon, essential background material for the author of the Gazophylacium. Skinner actually wrote his entry-words like to Lace, to Lam, A Lantern and A Larder. And, it is remarkable that these examples are, at the same time, the examples of entry-words that we can also see in the Gazophylacium. It will not be unreasonable now to conclude that this practice, which was originally adopted by the lexicographers of the English-Latin dictionary, was transmitted to J.K. via the author of the Gazophylacium.
Incidentally, it may be worth noting that after J.K.’s NED the practice to put the preposition to before verb entry-words gradually became adopted widely by the lexicographers of the general English dictionary until the latter half of the eighteenth century. In Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language (1755), we can quite frequently see such entry-words as To Cut, To Run, To Set and To Take. Whatever types of dictionaries such lexicographers may have referred to, it may safely be said that J.K. was the first lexicographer who substantially applied this practice in the field of the general English dictionary.
Having finished my analysis of the relations between J.K.’s NED and the Gazophylacium, I now recall the aphorism by Reinhard Hartmann (1986: vii): “Most dictionaries have forerunners, and all have imitators.”
Until today, J.K.’s NED has been highly esteemed as a dictionary which created an epoch-making change in the history of English lexicography, divorced from the tradition in the general English dictionary before it, and opening up a new dimension in the field. Certainly, J.K.’s NED is out of a historical context from Cawdrey’s Table to Coles’ Dictionary with regard to containing a high number of everyday words. At the same time, however, a drastic change can hardly happen in the history of lexicography. When this fact is taken into account, it will be natural to seek a dictionary that may have exerted a strong influence on J.K., and which has often been neglected by specialists. This is the anonymously compiled Gazophylacium, a dictionary that was based on Skinner’s English-Latin bilingual etymological dictionary, Etymologicon, and published between Coles’ and J.K.’s dictionaries.
From such a historical perspective, I have collated J.K.’s NED with the Gazophylacium in terms of word selection, definitions and grammatical information, thus gaining strong circumstantial evidence of J.K.’s close perusal of the Gazophylacium. It may safely be concluded now that the Gazophylacium was essential background material for J.K., and that his NED would have been quite different from what we now know without the Gazophylacium.
In case Skinner’s practice in his Etymologicon was transmitted to J.K. via the author of the Gazophylacium, as it apparently was, it can safely be said that the Gazophylacium bears historical significance as a bridge between the tradition of the English-Latin bilingual dictionary and that of the general English dictionary.
(A) Dictionary of the
English Language. 1755.
First edition (2 vols.). Samuel Johnson. Facsimile reprint. 1983.
(The) English Dictionarie. (Dictionarie) 1623. First edition. Henry Cockeram. Facsimile reprint. 1968. Menston: Scolar Press.
(An) English Dictionary. (Dictionary) 1676. First edition. Elisha Coles. Facsimile reprint. 1971. Menston: Scolar Press.
(An) English Expositor. (Expositor) 1616. First edition. John Bullokar. Facsimile reprint.
Etymologicon Linguae Anglicanae. (Etymologicon) 1671. First edition. Stephen Skinner. Facsimile
Gazophylacium Anglicanum. (Gazophylacium) 1689. An anonymous author. Facsimile reprint. 1969. Menston: Scolar Press.
Glossographia. 1656. First edition. Thomas Blount. Facsimile reprint. 1969. Menston: Scolar Press.
(A) New English Dictionary. (NED) 1702. First edition. J.K.
Facsimile reprint. 1974.
(A) Table Alphabeticall. (Table) 1604. First edition. Robert Cawdrey. Facsimile reprint.
Cited Books and Papers
Hartmann, Reinhard R. K.
(ed). 1986. The History of Lexicography
Landau, Sidney I. 1984. Dictionaries: the Art and Craft of
Nagashima, Daisuke. 1988. Johnson the Philologist (
Reed, Joseph W., Jr. 1962. Noah Webster’s debt to Samuel Johnson. American Speech 37: 95-105.
Starnes, De Witt T. and
Gergrude E. Noyes. 1991. The English
Dictionary from Cawdrey to Johnson, 1604-1755 (a reissued edition with
introductory materials by Gabriele Stein) (Amsterdam Studies in the Theory
and History of Linguistic Science, Series III – Studies in the History of the
Language Sciences, vol. 57).
Stein, Gabriele. 1985. The English Dictionary before Cawdrey (Lexicographica Series Maior 9). Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag.
F. 1987. The treatment of dialect in English dictionaries. In Studies in
Lexicography, edited by Robert Burchfield: 156-177.
original version of this paper was presented at the Seventh International School
on Lexicography, held on September 12-14, 2007, at