Books Should Be Free
Loyal Books
Free Public Domain Audiobooks & eBook Downloads

Preface to a Dictionary of the English Language   By: (1709-1784)

Book cover

Preface to a Dictionary of the English Language by Samuel Johnson is an extraordinary literary work that transcends its status as a mere preface. Johnson's mastery over the English language, his articulate expression, and his fervent pursuit of linguistic accuracy make this preface a remarkable contribution to the field of lexicography.

Throughout the pages, Johnson showcases his deep understanding of not only the English language but also its historical development. He delves into the roots of words, tracing their origins to various languages – Latin, Greek, French, and many more. By doing so, he unravels the complex tapestry of English, unravels the complex tapestry of English, and reveals the intricacies of its etymology.

Furthermore, Johnson's writing style is erudite yet accessible, making it captivating for both scholars and common readers alike. He engages readers by providing examples of language usage and discussing the contexts in which certain words are most appropriate. This helps readers comprehend the practicalities of language and how it molds our perceptions and interactions.

One of the most notable aspects of this preface is Johnson's introduction of the concept of "authority" in language. He ardently refutes the notion that language should be static, arguing instead that it should evolve and adapt to serve the needs of its speakers. In doing so, he challenges traditionalists and encourages a dynamic approach to language, influencing the way future generations think about linguistic evolution.

Additionally, Johnson's preface serves as an invaluable historical document. It provides readers with a glimpse into the culture, society, and values of the eighteenth century. Through his meticulous acknowledgment of contemporary attitudes and beliefs, Johnson reveals the contextual intricacies of language formation.

Though this is only a preface, the depth of knowledge conveyed by Johnson is impressive. It leaves readers yearning for the complete dictionary, eager to discover more about the rich tapestry that is the English language. Johnson's preface, therefore, acts as a tantalizing introduction to a comprehensive linguistic journey that awaits those who venture further into his opus.

In conclusion, Preface to a Dictionary of the English Language by Samuel Johnson is a masterpiece in its own right. Johnson's meticulous research, eloquent prose, and profound understanding of language make this preface an essential read for anyone interested in the intricacies of the English language and its historical development. It is a testament to Johnson's legacy as a lexicographer and a timeless contribution to the world of linguistics.

First Page:

Steve Harris, Charles Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team


By Samuel Johnson

It is the fate of those who toil at the lower employments of life, to be rather driven by the fear of evil, than attracted by the prospect of good; to be exposed to censure, without hope of praise; to be disgraced by miscarriage, or punished for neglect, where success would have been without applause, and diligence without reward.

Among these unhappy mortals is the writer of dictionaries; whom mankind have considered, not as the pupil, but the slave of science, the pionier of literature, doomed only to remove rubbish and clear obstructions from the paths through which Learning and Genius press forward to conquest and glory, without bestowing a smile on the humble drudge that facilitates their progress. Every other authour may aspire to praise; the lexicographer can only hope to escape reproach, and even this negative recompense has been yet granted to very few.

I have, notwithstanding this discouragement, attempted a dictionary of the English language, which, while it was employed in the cultivation of every species of literature, has itself been hitherto neglected; suffered to spread, under the direction of chance, into wild exuberance; resigned to the tyranny of time and fashion; and exposed to the corruptions of ignorance, and caprices of innovation... Continue reading book >>

eBook Downloads
ePUB eBook
• iBooks for iPhone and iPad
• Nook
• Sony Reader
Kindle eBook
• Mobi file format for Kindle
Read eBook
• Load eBook in browser
Text File eBook
• Computers
• Windows
• Mac

Review this book

Popular Genres
More Genres
Paid Books