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

By R. W. McConchie | Go to book overview

5
New Data for the OED: Methodological Problems

Having spent some time examining attitudes to the use of English in the sixteenth century and some of the ways in which the medical profession used it and the lexicographers recorded it, we now turn our attention to the works which have been the special subject of this study and to the work which best records the vocabulary of these books, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). We have now seen that the bulk of the sixteenth-century medical terminology in its pages probably did not come from the dictionaries of the period, and it is also probable that these dictionaries did not make a serious attempt to record this terminology. It seems possible therefore that we do not now understand the emergent terminology of the profession sufficiently well. However, the primary focus of an investigation into the recording of a particular semantic domain in the sixteenth-century lexicon must inevitably be the OED, and only secondarily those sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century dictionaries which were the source of some of its information. If the OED is inaccurate or misleading, in what ways and to what extent is it so? What are its actual deficiencies? This also leads inevitably to questions about the way in which the OED was put together, and to the ways in which it utilized its sources.

This book had its genesis in the fact that in the course of pursuing more literary studies than these I kept coming up against the problem of words which did not appear in its pages, as well as antedatings and other corrections to its entries. With the usual perversity of research, the compilation of lists of these became the main objective. As these lists became alarmingly and publishably long, it eventually became clear that the dictionary itself should be the object of research. Time has only served to reinforce that view; indeed, it has been apparent for some time that there is a pressing need for large-scale research into the sixteenth-century lexicon as well as into the OED, which has for so long dominated our view of

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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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