John Palsgrave as Renaissance Linguist: A Pioneer in Vernacular Language Description

By Gabriele Stein | Go to book overview

6
Lemmatization and Headword
Structure

We now come to the actual structure and presentation of Palsgrave's word list, and, as we can see from the following examples, his lexicographical method of presentation differs greatly from modern practice in bilingual English-French dictionaries. These differences will first be described and then interpreted in the lexicographical context of Palsgrave's time.

Since it is impossible to characterize Palsgrave's lemmatization in toto, I shall restrict myself to the three major parts of speech: the noun, the adjective, and the verb. Some examples from each in the letter n are listed in Table 6.1 to illustrate the contrast between lemmatization in Lesclarcissement and a modern English-French dictionary, the Collins-Robert in its second edition ( 1987).

There are some obvious differences, such as the indication of pronunciation, in the twentieth-century dictionary and the specification of the grammatical form class after the headword since its overriding principle of arrangement is alphabetical for the whole lexicon and not by grammatical classes as in Lesclarcissement. Of more importance in our context is a feature which they share: in each dictionary different founts are used to distinguish different types of information. The sixteenthth-century dictionary uses two types, the modern Collins-Robert three. In addition, the latter has broken down the linguistic information to be conveyed into smaller information units which are presented as such by means of a bracketing and numbering system. The modern dictionary thus looks much more compartmentalized.

In both dictionaries, the unit which is to be translated into French is set off from the rest of the text: it always starts a new line and it is given in the boldest type. The units themselves, however, vary considerably:

Nacyon nation
Nagge a horse nag

-194-

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