The dictionary wars: the American fight over the English language

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Publisher:
Princeton University Press,
Pub. Date:
[2019]
Language:
English
Description

A compelling history of the national conflicts that resulted from efforts to produce the first definitive American dictionary of English

In The Dictionary Wars, Peter Martin recounts the patriotic fervor in the early American republic to produce a definitive national dictionary that would rival Samuel Johnson’s 1755 Dictionary of the English Language. But what began as a cultural war of independence from Britain devolved into a battle among lexicographers, authors, scholars, and publishers, all vying for dictionary supremacy and shattering forever the dream of a unified American language.

The overwhelming questions in the dictionary wars involved which and whose English was truly American and whether a dictionary of English should attempt to be American at all, independent from Britain. Martin tells the human story of the intense rivalry between America’s first lexicographers, Noah Webster and Joseph Emerson Worcester, who fought over who could best represent the soul and identity of American culture. Webster believed an American dictionary, like the American language, ought to be informed by the nation’s republican principles, but Worcester thought that such language reforms were reckless and went too far. Their conflict continued beyond Webster’s death, when the ambitious Merriam brothers acquired publishing rights to Webster’s American Dictionary and launched their own language wars. From the beginning of the nineteenth century to the end of the Civil War, the dictionary wars also engaged America’s colleges, libraries, newspapers, religious groups, and state legislatures at a pivotal historical moment that coincided with rising literacy and the print revolution.

Delving into the personal stories and national debates that arose from the conflicts surrounding America’s first dictionaries, The Dictionary Wars examines the linguistic struggles that underpinned the founding and growth of a nation.

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ISBN:
9780691188911
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Grouping Information

Grouped Work ID 6ca21419-8dc7-76e6-bb63-6089dbed8ebc
Grouping Title dictionary wars the american fight over the english language
Grouping Author martin peter
Grouping Category book
Last Grouping Update 2019-07-19 06:17:29AM
Last Indexed 2019-07-21 04:52:03AM

Solr Details

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author Martin, Peter, 1940-
author_display Martin, Peter
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display_description "A compelling history of the national conflicts that resulted from efforts to produce the first definitive American dictionary of English. ... [English professor] Peter Martin recounts the patriotic fervor in the early American republic to produce a definitive national dictionary that would rival Samuel Johnson's 1755 Dictionary of the English Language. But what began as a cultural war of independence from Britain devolved into a battle among lexicographers, authors, scholars, and publishers, all vying for dictionary supremacy and shattering forever the dream of a unified American language. The overwhelming questions in the dictionary wars involved which and whose English was truly American and whether a dictionary of English should attempt to be American at all, independent from Britain. Martin tells the human story of the intense rivalry between America's first lexicographers, Noah Webster and Joseph Emerson Worcester, who fought over who could best represent the soul and identity of American culture. Webster believed an American dictionary, like the American language, ought to be informed by the nation's republican principles, but Worcester thought that such language reforms were reckless and went too far. Their conflict continued beyond Webster's death, when the ambitious Merriam brothers acquired publishing rights to Webster's American Dictionary and launched their own language wars. From the beginning of the nineteenth century to the end of the Civil War, the dictionary wars also engaged America's colleges, libraries, newspapers, religious groups, and state legislatures at a pivotal historical moment that coincided with rising literacy and the print revolution. Delving into the personal stories and national debates that arose from the conflicts surrounding America's first dictionaries, The Dictionary Wars examines the linguistic struggles that underpinned the founding and growth of a nation."--Dust jacket.
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subject_facet Encyclopedias and dictionaries -- History and criticism, English language -- United States -- Lexicography -- History, G. & C. Merriam Company, Webster, Noah, -- 1758-1843, Worcester, Joseph E. -- (Joseph Emerson), -- 1784-1865
title_display The dictionary wars : the American fight over the English language
title_full The dictionary wars : the American fight over the English language / Peter Martin
title_short The dictionary wars :
title_sub the American fight over the English language