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We are told by Mr. Worcester, in the Preface to his Universal Dictionary, that, after he began his preparation for the smaller work, of which we have just spoken, he "adopted the practice of recording all the English words which he met with, used by respectable authors, and not found in Todd's edition of Johnson's Dictionary." Such was his careful observation in the course of his wide reading, that his record grew with great rapidity. He found his collection of words constantly accumulating, and after a while determined to prepare "a new and larger dictionary." Continuing the practice of noting new words until he had prepared his Universal Dictionary for the press, and through the progress of printing it, we may well suppose that he has nearly exhausted the unregistered stock. But we doubt not that he has already met with words not a few, which are not inserted in his vocabulary. It is but a few hours since we saw a newspaper paragraph concerning the saving of manuscript records, relating to the history of Georgia, from the wreck of a vessel in which they were shipped from Liverpool; of which records the writer says, They were sent in their wet and sobby condition to New York." Todd and Worcester have, "sob, v. a. to soak; to sop [a cant word]," but have not this derivative.
Scripturality and unscripturality occur in a letter of Samuel Davidson, dated Lancashire Independent College, giving his reasons for withdrawing from the "Evangelical Alliance" lately formed at London. Respelling we find in Mr. Worcester's Introduction to his Dictionary. We have now said enough concerning Mr. Worcester's preparations for his Universal Dictionary to show that the work contains the results of long-continued and painstaking study. He has a right to consider it, in terms less reserved than those he employs, as a new dictionary.
"The Dictionary of Johnson," he says, as corrected and enlarged by Todd, and Walker's Critical Pronouncing Dictionary, have been made, in some degree, the basis of the present work; but the words found in those dictionaries have been revised with much labor and care in relation to their orthography, pronunciation, etymology, definition, &c.; and a great part of them, especially such as relate to the arts and sciences, have been defined entirely
"To the words found in Todd's edition of Johnson's Dictionary
nearly twenty-seven thousand more have been added, and for all these authorities are given, except a few, such as the participial adjectives amusing, entertaining, established, &c. All the verbs of the language that are often met with, both regular and irregu lar, are conjugated; and the preterits and perfect participles of the irregular verbs are inserted separately, in their alphabetical places; but of the regular verbs, the present and perfect participles are not inserted as separate articles. If this had been done, as it has been in several other dictionaries [Webster's, for example], it would have added upwards of ten thousand more articles to the vocabulary."
The words added by Mr. Worcester, and not found in Todd's Johnson, are denoted by an asterisk. Besides those gathered from his miscellaneous reading and from English dictionaries, he has taken the technical and scientific terms from various scientific works, dictionaries of arts and sciences, and encyclopædias. For authorities, he says, "in many instances, the names of English authors have been chosen in preference to the names of American authors of equal or even higher respectability; inasmuch as it is satisfactory to many readers to know, in relation to a new, uncommon, or doubtful word, that it is not peculiar to American writers.” At the same time he has not inserted indiscriminately all the words that he has found in English writers, even of those held in good repute; and to many that he has inserted he has annexed some term of disapprobation. Still, his vocabu lary is doubtless more comprehensive than that which is contained in all the dictionaries of the English language collectively. It is an encyclopædia of words.
The time has gone by for discussing the propriety of introducing technical words into a dictionary of the English language. Dr. George Campbell, author of the Philosophy of Rhetoric, a penetrating philosophical critic, maintained the opinion that technical words are not to be considered as part of a language, and that they are not entitled, in general, to admission into a dictionary claiming the character of a standard. The explanation of such words must therefore be sought for in cyclopædias and dictionaries of arts and sciences. Čampbell, it may be, was led to adopt the opinion he entertained by finding how little had been done in regard to the insertion and explanation of these words in the general dictionaries of the English language. Johnson, however, seems to have admitted the propriety of inserting them. From books of science
and technical dictionaries he professed to have collected such as he could find, and to have admitted others, sometimes with hesitation, on the authority of a single writer. But what he accomplished in this particular is now of little value. Technical and scientific terms have, since his time, become very numerous; and many things pertaining to the arts and sciences have, for the benefit of general readers, become so popularized (if we may use this word, admitted by Mr. Worcester on the authority of the Edinburgh Review), that an explanation of such words has become important, and is no longer a question of expediency.
Words which English authors had introduced in consequence, as Dr. Johnson said, of "their knowledge of foreign languages, or ignorance of their own," he inserted as he chanced to meet them, but commonly, as he remarked, "to censure them, and to warn others against the folly of naturalizing useless foreigners to the injury of the natives." Compounded or double words he introduced sparingly; and words formed according to uniform analogy he noted as they casually occurred, but did not search for them, "because, their relation to the primitive being always the same, their signification cannot be mistaken."
Here is a wide field, which was but little explored by Dr. Johnson, and has been constantly becoming more fruitful. We can fix no limits to its productiveness. Every thing in this world is, indeed, finite; but when we look at the ever increasing number of abstract nouns ending in ness and ity, of adjectives ending in al, ive, able, and ible, and of adverbs in ly, all of which are among the most common derivative formations, we can see no end to the increase. We here exemplify the expansion of the English vocabulary in some of these derivative formations, without seeking for remarkable instances:
CONVENTION: conventional, conventionalism, conventionalist, conventionality, conventionally, conventioner, conventionist.
CONTEMPORARY: contemporariness, contemporaneous, contemporaneousness, contemporaneously, contemporaneity. CONTEMPT contemptible, contemptibility, contemptibleness, contemptibly.
RELY reliable, reliability.
PERISH perishable, perishability, perishableness, perish
EDUCATE education, educational, educationist, educator, educable, educability.
IMPUGN impugner, impugnable, impugnment.
ONTOLOGY: Ontologist, ontologic, ontological, ontologi
From these eight primitive words we here find thirty-five derivatives, and of this number twenty-three are inserted by Mr. Worcester, which are not found in Todd's Johnson, or, as we suppose, in any other English dictionary. They take their place, however, on the authority of learned and respectable writers.
To this source of accession to the "World of English Words," as Edward Phillips, nearly two centuries ago, entitled his dictionary, in which terms of Astrology, Magic, Heraldry, Mythology, and Hawking, "hard words" from other languages, proper names, and other matters, were mingled in strange juxtaposition, we may add the constant improvements, discoveries, and inventions in the arts and sciences; the vast extension of the commerce of Great Britain and the United States with other nations; the increasing personal intercourse of the inhabitants of those countries with the people of the continent of Europe; the consequent interchange of customs, fashion, and literature; and the journals and itineraries which record whatever is peculiar to the countries visited by English and American travellers; and it may be that a few years only will pass, before we shall have a vocabulary of a hundred thousand words, instead of seventy or eighty thousand. And there is no occasion for much alarm at such a prospect. The multiplication of words has hitherto produced no distraction among writers and public speakers of literary taste and acquirements, nor will it hereafter. Now and then, a useless word of recent origin or recent revival will enjoy its brief period of fashion, until men of taste, sickened by the sound, as it is constantly uttered by lips that use or abuse it, will reject it with disgust.
While Mr. Worcester has included in his vocabulary most of the words he has found in the productions of respectable writers, on some of which, however, he sets a discountenancing mark, we do not find that he has excluded any which have heretofore been admitted into dictionaries, and are en
titled to respect. He does not belong to the corps of militant etymologists, who war against custom, which establishes the laws of language. On the contrary, he pays due fealty to these laws, and gives no countenance to a revolutionary spirit. We have discovered no instance in which he has changed the orthography of a word to make it conform to an assumed theory. In these respects, he has, wherever we have traced him, shown that fidelity to our language as he found it, which makes him worthy of entire confidence.
Dictionaries are made not so much for the learned as for the learner and the general reader. We cannot but think, that whatever is done by a lexicographer to disturb what is settled by common practice and consent is unwise and pedantic. For instance, we have long been in possession of the word systematize, which happened to be formed immediately from the Greek substantive ending in alpha, instead of the Anglicized substantive system. In like manner we have dogmatize and stigmatize from the Greek termination of dogma and stigma. Dr. Webster chose to derive from system the verb systemize, which he inserted without any comment, and excluded systematize. But he inserted systematic, systematical, and systematically. Why should he not have boldly carried out his process, and have given us systemic, systemical, and systemically? We hold a critic who thus tampers with our vocabulary guilty of culpable oversight, or of a high philological misdemeanour. Again, the word sovereign is always spelled in one and the same way by educated people; but Dr. Webster says, "We retain this barbarous orthography from the Norman souvereign. The true spelling would be suveran. Fr. souverain, &c." Accordingly, he inserted suveran in its alphabetical place, as the approved orthography, and illustrated its use with the word preserved in the same form. The only comment he makes is, "The barbarous Norman word souvereign seems to be formed of L. super and regnum; a strange blunder." The adoption of such etymological vagaries into the body of a dictionary entirely destroys its usefulness as a work of reference. Though they may be comparatively few in number, the book ceases to be trustworthy in any case; for the inquirer can never be sure but that the particular word he is searching for is one of those over which the lexicographer has exercised his usurped authority.