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every language has likewise its improprieties and absurdities, which it is the daty of the lexicographer to correct or proscribe.
As language was at its beginning merely oral, all words of necessary or common 2 use were spoken before they were written ; and while they were unfixed by any visible signs, must have been spoken with great diversity, as we now observe those who cannot read to catch sounds imperfectly, and utter them negligently. When. this wild and barbarous jargon was first reduced to an alphabet, every penman endeavoured to express, as he could, the sounds which he was accustomed to pro- z nounce or to receive, and vitiated in writing such words as were already vitiated in speech. The powers of the letters, when they were applied to a new language, must have been vague and unsettled, and therefore different hands would exhibit the same sound by different combinations.
From this uncertain pronunciation arise in great part the various dialects of the same country, which will always be observed to grow fewer, and less different, as books are multiplied; and from this arbitrary representation of sounds by letters, proceeds that diversity of spelling observable in the Saxon remains, and I suppose in the first books of every nation, which perplexes or destroys analogy, and proa duces anomalous formations, that, being once incorporated, can never be afterward dismissed or reformed.
Of this kind are the derivatives length from long, strength from strong, darling from dear, breadth from broud, from dry, drought, and from high, height, which Milton, in zeal for analogy, writes highth: Quid te exempta juvut spinis de pluribus
? to change all would be too much, and to change one is nothing. This uncertainty is most frequent in the vowels, which are so capriciously pronounced, and so differently modified, by accident or affectation, not only in every province, but in every mouth, that to them, as is well known to etymologists, little regard is to be shown in the deduction of one language from another.
Such defects are not errours in orthography, but spots of barbarity impressed so deep in the English language, that criticism can never wash them away: these, therefore, must be permitted to remain untouched; but many words have likewise been altered by accident, or depraved by ignorance, as the pronunciation of the vulgar has been weakly followed; and some still continue to be variously written, as authors differ in their care or skill: of these it was proper to inquire the true orthography, which I have always considered as depending on their derivation, and have therefore referred them to their original languages : thus I write enchant, enchantment, enchanter, after the French, and incantation after the Latin ; thus entire is chosen rather than intire, because it passed to us not from the Latin integer, but from the French entier.
Of many words it is difficult to say whether they were immediately received from the Latin or the French, since, at the time when we had dominions in France, we had Latin service in our churches. It is, however, my opinion, that the French generally supplied us; for we have few Latin words among the terms of domestick use, which are not French ; but many French, which are very remote froni Lutin.
Even in words of which the derivation is apparent, I have been often obliged to serifice uniformity to custom ; thus I write, in compliance with a numberless ma
I de zoter:
jority, convey and inneigh, deceit and receipt, fancy and phantom; sometimes the
deriratiye varies from the primitive, as explain and explanation, repeat and repetition, dry a comba Some combinations of letters having the same power, are used indifferently zafired by any without any discoverable reason of 'choice, as in choak, choke ; soup, sope ; fewel, > Divere le fuel
, and many others ; which I have sometimes inserted twice, that those who ently . *7 kearch for them under either form, may not search in vain.
În examining the orthography of any doubtful word, the mode of spelling by
which it is inserted in the series the dictionary, is to be considered as that to ready cez which I give, perhaps not often rashly, the preference. I have left, in the exa let langesamples, to every author his own practice unmolested, that the reader may balance could este suffrages, and judge between'us : but this question is not always to be determined
bis reputed or by real learning : some men, intent upon greater things, have falects at thought little on sounds and derivations : some, knowing in the ancient tongues,
have neglected those in which our words are commonly to be sought. Thus Hama
mond writes fecibleness for feasibleness, because I suppose he imagined it derived im. del pesmediately from the Latin ; and some words, such as dependant, dependent ; depen. sy, and a dance
, dependence, vary their final syllable, as one or another language is present to the writer.
In this part of the work, where caprice has long wantoned without controul, ag, datory and vanity sought praise by petty reformation, I have endeavoured to proceed with
a scholar's reverence for antiquity, and a grammarian's regard to the genius of our de pierdal tongue. I have attempted few alterations, and among those few, perhaps the
greater part is from the modern to the ancient practice; and I hope I may be pusly pay allowed to recommend to those whose thoughts bave been perhaps employed too in ele anxiously on verbal singularities, not to disturb, upon narrow views, or for minute
propriety, the orthography of their fathers. It has been asserted, that for the law
and stability a general and lasting advantage, which will always overbalance the slow cesty improvements of gradual correction. Much less ought our written language to jo comply with the corruptions of oral utterance, or copy that which every variation
of time or place makes different from itself, and imitate those changes which will
This recommendation of steadiness and uniformity does not proceed from an opinion, that particular combinations of letters have much influence on human happiness ; or that truth may not be successfully taught by modes of spelling fanciful and erroneous : I am not yet so lost in lexicography, as to forget that words are the daughters of earth, and that things are the sons of heaven. Language is only the instrument of science, and words are but the signs of ideas : I wish, however, that the instrument might be less apt to decay, and that signs might be permanent, like the things which they denote.
In settling the orthography, I have not wholly neglected the pronunciation, which I have directed, by printing an accent upon the acute or elevated syllable. It will sometimes be found, that the accent is placed by the author quoted, on a different syllable from that marked in the alphabetical series: it is then to be understood, that custom has varied, or that the author has, in my opinion, pro
nounced wrong. Short directions are sometimes given where the sound of letters is irregular ; and if they are sometimes omitted, defect in such minute observations will be more easily excused, than superfluity.
In the investigation both of the orthography and signification of words, their ETYMOLOGY was necessarily to be considered, and they were therefore to be divided into primitives and derivatives. A primitive word, is that which can be traced no further to any English root; thus circumspect, circumvent, circumstance, delude, concave, and complicate, though compounds in the Latin, are to us primitives. Derivatives, are all those that can be referred to any word in English of greater simplicity
The derivatives I have referred to their primitives, with an accuracy sometimes needless ; for who does not see that remoteness comes from remote, lovely from love, concavity from concave, and demonstrative from demonstrate ? but this grammatical exuberance the scheme of my work did not allow me to repress. It is of great importance, in examining the general fabrick of a language, to trace one word from another, by noting the usual modes of derivation and inflection; and uniformity must be preserved in systematical works, though sometimes at the expence of particular propriety.
Among other derivatives I have been careful to insert and elucidate the anomalous plurals of nouns and preterites of verbs, which in the Teutonick dialects are very frequent, and, though familiar to those who have always used them, interrupt and embarrass the learners of our language.
The two languages from which our primitives have been derived are the Roman and Teutonick; under the Roman I comprehend the French and provincial tongues ; and under the Teutonick range the Saxon, German, and all their kindred dialects. Most of our polysyllables are Roman, and our words of one syllable are very often Teutonick,
In assigning the Roman original, it has perhaps sometimes happened that I have mentioned only the Latin, when the word was borrowed from the French; and considering myself as employed only in the illustration of my own language, have not been very careful to observe whether the Lutin word be pure or barbarous or the French elegant or obsolete.
For the Teutonick etymologies I am commonly indebted to Junius and Skinner the only names which I have forborne to quote when I copied their books; not tha I might appropriate their labours or usurp their honours, but that I might spare general repetition by one general acknowledgment. Of these, whom I ought n to mention but with reverence due to instructors and benefactors, Junius appears have excelled in extent of learning, and Skinner in rectitude of understandin Junius was accurately skilled in all the northern languages, Skinner proba examined the ancient and remoter dialects only by occasional inspection into tionaries; but the learning of Junius is often of no other use than to show hi track by which he might deviate from his purpose, to which Skinner always pre forward by the shortest way. Skinner is often ignorant, but never "ridiculo Junius is always full of knowledge ; but his variety distracts his judgment, and learning is very frequently disgraced by his absurdities.
The votaries of the northern muses will not perhaps easily restrain their in
nation, when they find the name of Junius thus degraded by a disadvantageous comparison ; but whatever reverence is due to his diligence, or his attainments, it can be no criminal degree of censoriousness to charge that etymologist with want of judgment, who can seriously derive dream from drama, because life is a drama, and a drama is a dream; and who declares with a tone of defiance, that no man can fail to derive moan from póros, monos, single or solitary, who considers that grief naturally loves to be alone *.
Our knowledge of the northern literature is so scanty, that of words undoubtedly Teutonick, the original is not always to be found in any ancient language; and I have therefore inserted Dutch or German substitutes, which I consider not as radical, but parallel, not as the parents, but sisters of the English.
The words which are represented as thus related by descent or cognation, do not , always agree in sense; for it is incident to words, as to their authors, to degenerate from their ancestors, and to change their manners when they change their country. It is sufficient, in etymological inquiries, if the senses of kindred words be found such as may easily pass into each other, or such as may both be referred to one general idea.
The etymology, so far as it is yet known, was easily found in the volumes where it is particularly and professedly delivered ; and by proper attention to the rules of derivation, the orthography was soon adjusted. But to collect the Words of our language was a task of greater difficulty: the deficiency of dictionaries was immediately apparent; and when they were exhausted, what was yet wanting must be sought by fortuitous and unguided excursions into books, and gleaned as industry should find, or chance should offer it, in the boundless chaos of a. living speech.
* That I may not appear to have spoken too irreverently of Junius, I have here subjoined a few specimens of his etymological extravagance.
Banish, relegare, er banno vel territorio erigere, in exilium agere. G. bannir. It. bandire, bandeggiare. H. bandir. B. bannen. Ævi medii scriptores bannire dicebant. V. Spelm. in Bannun & in Banlenga. Quoniam verò regionum urbiumg; limites arduis plerumq; montibus, altis fluminibus, longis deniq; flexuosisq; angustissimarum viarum amfractibus includebantur, fieri potest id genus limites ban dici ab eo, quod Barátai & Bawalços Tarentinis olim, sicuti tradit Hesychius, vocabantur ei nošos recei pesa, a Suzsveis odos, “ obliquæ ac minimè in rectum tendentes viz."" Ac fortasse quoque huc facit quod Bava's, eodem Hesychio teste, dicebant ögn 5gaz yuan, montes arduos.
EMPTY, emtie, vacuus, inanis. A S. Æmiz. Nescio an sint ab ituéw vel susleiw. Vomo, eroto, vomitu evacuo. Videtur interim etymologiam hanc non obscurè firmare codex Rush. Matt. xii. 22. ubi antiquè scriptum invenimus gemoezed hit emerig. “ învenit eam vacantem."
Hill, mons, collis. A. S. hyll. Quod videri potest abscissum ex xshim vel xorur... Collis, tumulus, locus in plano editior. Hom. II. b. v. 811. iso di sis apomácou biz cóntos darzuiz xo2.ce'vn. Ubi authori brevium scholiorum κολώνη exp. τόπος εις ύψος ανήκων, γεύλοξος εξοχή.
NAP, to take a nap. Dormire, cmdormiscere. Cym. heppian. A. S. hnæppan. Quod postremum videri potest desumptum ex xviça;, obscuritas, tenebræ : nihil enim æque solet conciliare somnum, quàm caliginosa profunda noctis obscuritas.
STAMMERER, Balbus, blæsus. Goth. STAMMS. A. S. réamén, stamuji, D. stam. B. stameler, Su. stamma. Isl. stamr. Sunt a suudely vel sujer'anos, nimià loquacitate alios offendere; quod impeditè loquentes libentissimè garrire soleant; vel quod aliis uinui semper vidcantur, etiam parcissimè loquentes,
My search, however, has been either skilful or lucky'; for I have much augmented the vocabulary.
As my design was a dictionary, common or appellative, I have omitted all words which have relation to proper names; such as Arian, Socinian, Calvinist, Benedictine, Mahometan ; but have retained those of a more general nature, as Heathen, Pagan.
Of the terms of art I have received such as could be found either in books of science or technical dictionaries; and have often inserted, from philosophical writers, words which are supported perhaps only by a single authority, and which being not admitted into general use, stand yet as candidates or probationers, and must depend for their adoption on the suffrage of futurity.
The words which our authors have introduced by their knowledge of foreign languages, or ignorance of their own, by vanity or wantonness, by compliance with fashion or lust of innovation, I have registered as they occurred, though commonly only to censure them and warn others against the folly of naturalizing useless foreigners to the injury of the natives,
I have not rejected any by design, merely because they were unnecessary, or exuberant; but have received those which by different writers have been differently formed, as viscid and viscidity, viscous and viscosity.
Compounded or double words I have seldom noted, except when they obtain a signification different from that which the components have in their simple state. Thus highwayman, woodman, and horsecourser, require an explanation; but of thieflike or coachdriver no notice was needed, because the primitives contain the meaning of the compounds.
Words arbitrarily formed by a constant and settled analogy, like diminutive adjectives in ish, as greenish, bluish ; adverbs in ly, as dully, openly ; substantives in ness, as vileness, faultiness; were less diligently sought, and sometimes have been omitted, when I had no authority that invited me to insert them; not that they are not genuine and regular cffsprings of English roots, but because their relation to the primitive being always the same, their signification cannot be mistaken.
The verbal nouns in ing, such as the keeping of the castle, the leading of the army, are always neglected, or placed only to illustrate the sense of the verb, except when they signify things as well as actions, and have therefore a plural number, as dwelling, living; or have an absolute and abstract signification, as colouring, puinting, learning
The participles are likewise omitted, unless, by signifying rather habit or quality than action, they take the nature of adjectives: as a thinking man, a man of prudence; a pacing horse, a horse that can pace : these I have ventured to call par ticipial adjectives. But neither are these always inserted, because they are com monly to be understood, without any danger of mistake, by consulting the verb.
Obsolete words are admitted, when they are found in authors not obsolete, c when they have any force or beauty that may deserve revival.
As composition is one of the chief characteristicks of a language, I have e deavoured to make some reparation for the universal negligence of my predecessor by inserting great numbers of compounded words, as may be found under aftę fore, new, night, fair, and many more. These, numerous as they are, might