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‘Ye whom the charms of grammar please’

Studies in English Language History in Honour of Leiv Egil Breivik


Edited By Kari Haugland, Kevin McCafferty and Kristian A. Rusten

This collection of articles by colleagues and students of Leiv Egil Breivik presents studies within both core and peripheral areas of English historical linguistics. Core topics covered include the development of existential there and related phenomena, word order, the evolution of adverbials, null subjects from Old to Early Modern English, pragmatics and information structure and aspects of discourse. Contributors also address the emergence of new syntactic constructions in the past and present, language contact and aspects of style in Early Modern English letters and medical texts. The ideological discourses of children’s dictionaries and medieval letters of defence are also explored.
The essays are all empirical studies, based on a wide range of corpora (both historical and contemporary) and applying theoretical approaches informed by Systemic-Functional Grammar, grammaticalization theory, dependency grammar, historical linguistics, sociolinguistics and corpus linguistic methods. Issues of methodology, statistics and corpus construction and annotation are also addressed in several contributions.
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Sarah Hoem Iversen: Do you understand this, my little pupil?: Children’s dictionaries, pedagogy and constructions of childhood in the nineteenth century


← 330 | 331 → SARAH HOEM IVERSEN

Do you understand this, my little pupil?: Children’s dictionaries, pedagogy and constructions of childhood in the nineteenth century

1 Children’s dictionaries and the history of lexicography

Although there has been extensive previous research both on children’s literature and on lexicography in the nineteenth century, children’s dictionaries in this period remain an unexplored field. The lacuna is unsurprising: children’s dictionaries are generally regarded as twentieth-century phenomena, pioneered by American educationalist Edward Thorndike with the publication of his Thorndike century junior dictionary (1935). Histories of lexicography generally acknowledge that the original purpose of English dictionary-making was pedagogical in the sense that early dictionaries were primarily compiled for school pupils (Osselton: 1983: 13–14, Schäfer 1989: 2, Starnes & Noyes 1991: 1, Landau 2001: 25, Béjoint 2010: 62).

Landau argues, however, that dictionaries addressed to children before the mid-twentieth century were simply smaller-sized adult dictionaries which made ‘no concession to simplicity […] in the treatment of vocabulary’ (2001: 25). It is perhaps not surprising, then, that children’s dictionaries (of any period), though ‘interesting for the metalexicographer’, have ‘rarely been the object of research’ (Béjoint 2010: 48).

Contrary to the assumption that the children’s dictionary did not exist until the mid-twentieth century, there were, in fact, many English dictionaries specifically written for children in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Briefly exploring contemporary theories of education, this paper considers how children’s dictionaries presented their didactic role and, crucially,...

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