First "American" Dictionary,1828 "Webster"

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by T Alan, Dec 27, 2014.

  1. T Alan

    T Alan
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    In my view, the Christian religion is the most important and one of the first things in which all children, under a free government ought to be instructed... No truth is more evident to my mind than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people.
    - Preface

    [​IMG]



    Born in West Hartford, Connecticut in 1758, Noah Webster came of age during the American Revolution and was a strong advocate of the Constitutional Convention. He believed fervently in the developing cultural independence of the United States, a chief part of which was to be a distinctive American language with its own idiom, pronunciation, and style.

    In 1806 Webster published A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language, the first truly American dictionary. For more information on this milestone in American reference publishing, please see Noah Webster's Spelling Reform and A Sample Glossary from A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language. Immediately thereafter he went to work on his magnum opus, An American Dictionary of the English Language, for which he learned 26 languages, including Anglo-Saxon and Sanskrit, in order to research the origins of his own country's tongue. This book, published in 1828, embodied a new standard of lexicography; it was a dictionary with 70,000 entries that was felt by many to have surpassed Samuel Johnson's 1755 British masterpiece not only in scope but in authority as well.

    One facet of Webster's importance was his willingness to innovate when he thought innovation meant improvement. He was the first to document distinctively American vocabulary such as skunk, hickory, and chowder. Reasoning that many spelling conventions were artificial and needlessly confusing, he urged altering many words: musick to music, centre to center, and plough to plow, for example. (Other attempts at reform met with less acceptance, however, such as his support for modifying tongue to tung and women to wimmen—the latter of which he argued was "the old and true spelling" and the one that most accurately indicated its pronunciation.)

    While Webster was promoting his dictionary, George and Charles Merriam opened a printing and bookselling operation in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1831. G. & C. Merriam Co. (renamed Merriam-Webster Inc. in 1982) inherited the Webster legacy when the Merriam brothers bought the unsold copies of the 1841 edition of An American Dictionary of the English Language, Corrected and Enlarged from Webster's heirs after the great man's death in 1843. At the same time they secured the rights to create revised editions of that work. It was the beginning of a publishing tradition that has continued uninterrupted to this day at Merriam-Webster.

    Further information on the birthplace and life of Noah Webster is available at the Noah Webster House/Museum of West Hartford History.
     
  2. T Alan

    T Alan
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    "No truth is more evident to my mind than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people... When I speak of the Christian religion as
    the basis of government... I mean the primitive Christianity in its simplicity as taught by Christ and His apostles, consisting of a belief in the being,
    perfections, and government of God; in the revelation of His
    will to men, as their supreme rule of action; in man's... accountability to God for his conduct in this life;and in the indispensable obligation of all men to yield entire obedience to God's commands in the moral law and the Gospel."
    -
    Noah Webster
     
  3. T Alan

    T Alan
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  4. Zaac

    Zaac
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    Very informative. I always did like Noah Webster.
     
  5. T Alan

    T Alan
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    Here's a link for the 1828 searchable page. Quite interesting to see the "original" definitions compared to what "some people" are using as definitions. See Marriage for example.

    http://1828.mshaffer.com/
     
  6. Zaac

    Zaac
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    We should present some of these to the church. But then again, if they don't care how God says it, they definitely aren't gonna care how Noah Webster said it.

    MAR'RIAGE, n. [L. mas, maris. ] The act of uniting a man and woman for life; wedlock; the legal union of a man and woman for life. Marriage is a contract.

    LIB'ERAL, a. [L. liberalis, from liber, free. See Libe. ]1. Of a free heart; free to give or bestow; not close or contracted; munificent; bountiful;

    Noah's dictionary makes it look like Christian political conservatives really should be spiritually liberal.
     
  7. T Alan

    T Alan
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    I find it interesting that in the above bold text that Marriage is defined as "legal" with no mention of biblical context as much of his dictionary does.
     
  8. Zaac

    Zaac
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    I went back to check this. I guess it initially brings up a partial definition. But when you click on the partial definition, it gives a more complete rendering of the word.

    MAR'RIAGE, n. [L.mas, maris.] The act of uniting a man and woman for life; wedlock; the legal union of a man and woman for life. Marriage is a contract both civil and religious, by which the parties engage to live together in mutual affection and fidelity, till death shall separate them. Marriage was instituted by God himself for the purpose of preventing the promiscuous intercourse of the sexes, for promoting domestic felicity,and for securing the maintenance and education of children.
     

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