Lexicography and Physicke: The Record of Sixteenth-Century English Medical Terminology

By R. W. McConchie | Go to book overview

Convincing reasons other than neglect to explain the relative lack of attention to the medical lexicon by sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century lexicographers are not easy to find, but perhaps the sense that its words were not proper to the English lexicon was the most likely. This might be a result of the process of encystation inasmuch as such terms are usually in the context of teaching in Latin and Greek, and are strictly non-anglicized in form, even in the few works in the vernacular on the subject. Stein points out, while offering no hard evidence for, the relative absence of terms of rhetoric in English-vernacular dictionaries. Similar considerations may explain the relative lack of medical terms ( Schöfer 1980b: 7-17; Stein 1986: 225).

The early monolingual dictionaries therefore offer little insight into the resources of contemporary medical terminology, having tended either to avoid it or to deal with it unsystematically, both tendencies being sufficiently clear in spite of the small scope of the works involved. The bilingual ones have more, being in any case more substantial, but they seem not to have been used extensively by the OED as sources, and may not have reflected contemporary English usage accurately. The OED's practice has related inversely to the lexicographical weight and seriousness of these dictionaries, and it is clear that the bulk of the data for sixteenth-century medical terminology came from other prose sources rather than from dictionaries of the period. For a more detailed and comprehensive view of medical terminology we must look at the English textbooks and handbooks themselves, the yardstick for this aspect of the study being the OED itself. It is essential to understand how well or ill the OED covered the lexical material available in the medical works of the period, especially since it made use of those dictionaries less able to provide data, while scanting those with more potential.


Notes
1
The best coverage of these interrelationships is still to be found in Starnes ( 1954).
2
Osselton ( 1986: 175-84) suggests a late sixteenth-century date for this compilation, leaving the reader with a choice between the last quarter of the century, c. 1570 (the Bodleian's date for the MS), and post Rider (i.e. 1589), if this is indeed the major source of his compilation as is claimed. In any case, it almost certainly precedes Cawdrey, and is quite different in scope and intention, as well as being unusual in employing an English -- Latin rather than a Latin -- English source.

-115-

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Lexicography and Physicke: The Record of Sixteenth-Century English Medical Terminology
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Contents xi
  • Abbreviations xii
  • I - Introduction 1
  • Notes 11
  • 2 - The Inadequacy of English 14
  • Notes 57
  • 3 - Language and Authority 62
  • Notes 93
  • 4 - The Early Lexicographers: Elyot to Bullokar 97
  • Notes 115
  • 5 - New Data for the Oed: Methodological Problems 119
  • Notes 149
  • 6 - Antedatings 154
  • Notes 179
  • 7 - The Medical Lexicon and the Oed 182
  • Notes 221
  • Bibliography 223
  • Appendix 1, - An Alphabetical List by Author of the Data Excerpted 237
  • Notes 411
  • Appendix 2 - Graphs of the Lengths of Antedatings by Author 413
  • Appendix 3 - Medical Antedatings 422
  • Index 435
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