Latin Lexicography

Kathleen M. Coleman

in Classics

ISBN: 9780195389661
Published online November 2010 | | DOI:
Latin Lexicography

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Study of the lexicon of the Latin language has been pursued since at least the late Republic, but the modern scientific footing on which it rests is largely the product of 19th-century advances in the stemmatic method of textual criticism and the emergent understanding of the relationships among the Indo-European languages. Arguments about linguistic change and especially etymology and synonymity were vigorously pursued by Roman scholars such as Varro (Marcus Terentius Varro) and Verrius Flaccus (Marcus Verrius Flaccus), who were heirs to Greek philosophical theories about the relative influence of anomaly and analogy as catalysts for linguistic change. From the Antonine period onward, antiquarian impulses combined with notions of linguistic purity to prompt the collection and explication of rare or obsolete words. Collections of etymologies, many of them fanciful, and the didactic habit of compiling glosses to aid first- or second-language learners monopolized lexicographical study into the High Middle Ages. The gradual adoption of alphabetical order made it possible to treat dictionaries as works of reference. In the Renaissance the study of ancient texts was established on a more substantial foundation, and lexicography began to shed its reliance on etymology and glosses. The early modern period saw the development of the notion that a dictionary of classical Latin should be based on the entire range of sources, both literary and epigraphic. Such a project is finally being attempted by the Thesaurus linguae Latinae (TLL). Lexicographical method continues to evolve, as is evident from a comparison of earlier and later fascicles of the Thesaurus linguae Latinae, and so does our appreciation of what a really comprehensive dictionary enables us to do with Latin texts.

Article.  15508 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Classical Art and Architecture ; Classical History ; Classical Literature ; Classical Philosophy

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