Welcome to the E-learning Project: „Lexicography: Dictionaries“!

Dictionaries are omnipresent in our world. Everybody uses them, everyone who works with language needs them and students will not be able to work successfully without them. It is helpful to get to know some basic information about their history and their usage and characteristics to make working with them easier and more productive.

This project provides information about the history and the most important aspects of dictionaries. You will learn about the history of such defining works as Samuel Johnson` s Dictionary and the Oxford English Dictionary. Furthermore you will be confronted with elementary questions like “What is a dictionary?” and learn about the most important aspects of a typical modern dictionary. Additionally you can check your learning success by working on interactive exercises.
The underlying objective is to get students interested in lexicography and to make working with dictionaries easier. This project is designed for beginners or advanced students and can serve as an introduction to the linguistic branch of lexicography.

English is a language of so many sources due to the invasions that took part in the past. To name a few there are words imported from Latin, Greek, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and especially from French. With the Renaissance came the rise of the interest in science, arts, exploration, and travel. The amount of English words had nearly doubled by the beginning of the seventeenth century. It is quite probable that the number of words was about 250,000. Until then no one had come up with the idea of collecting all of them in one opus.
Robert Cawdrey was the first to publish “A table Alphabetical, conteyning and teaching the true writing and understanding of hard unusual English words, borrowed from Hebrew, Greek, Latin, or French, &c” in 1604. It was the first monolingual English dictionary and it started the wave of dictionaries yet to come. During the first half of the century dozens of new dictionaries were published. One of the two most important ones was published in 1755 by Dr Samuel Johnson, namely “A Dictionary of the English Language”. Another important dictionary was published later in 1928 by James Murray and the Oxford Press, namely “The New English Dictionary”.