约翰逊博士的词典(Samuel Johnson)

作者: 阮一峰

日期: 2006年7月31日

珠峰培训

bg060731_1.jpg

第一本英语词典是仅有120多页的一本小书,编者是一个叫罗伯特·考德雷的人,于1604年出版,书名为《词汇表》。

塞缪尔·约翰逊博士于1746年6月18日在早餐时,同出版商罗伯特·多德斯莱签署了出版一本词典的合同。他的酬金是1575英镑,分期付款。他从中拿出钱来支付了高夫广场17号的租金,在这儿他设立了他的词典作坊。

他的传记作者詹姆斯·博斯威尔形容约翰逊工作的阁楼"装置得像一间存帐室",一张长桌放在正中,抄写文员在桌边站着工作。约翰逊本人则在一张"很旧的摇摇晃晃的松木桌"旁置身在一把东倒西歪的妻子里,周围是乱糟糟的借来的书籍。他有6个助手帮忙(5个苏格兰人,其中一个是"下等黑话片语"的专家,以及1个英国人),其中有两个人在《词典》仍处于筹备期间就死了。

工作量极其巨大。约翰逊写作用了大约80多本大号笔记本(而且手边都没有一家图书馆),写了四万多词条的定义,从伊丽莎白时代的作家到他本人时代的有关所有主题的英语作品中引用了11.4万条引文,以说明这些词条的意思。他并不指望达到完全的独创。为了赶截止期,他不得不从以前的词典中撷精取华,把他的作品变成了一种具有英雄胆略的集大成之作。事实上的成果远不止此。约翰逊与他之前的词典编纂者不同,他以实事求是的态度来对待英语,把它当成一种活的语言,有着许多不同层次上的意义。他采纳的词条定义均基于英国普通法的原则--根据惯例。他的《词典》出版之后,一个多世纪里没有劲敌与之相匹。而且其中有些词条的定义已经十分有名。

心脏--通过收缩和扩张,推动血液周身循环的肌肉......大众语言认为,它有时是勇气,有时则是感情的所在。

对"thought"(思想)这个很棘手的词,共有12个定义,它显示了一个伟大头脑的流畅和准确。

1.大脑的运作;思想的行为。2.概念;大脑中形成的形象。3.感情;想像;形象。4.思考;特别的考虑。5.观念;先入之见。6.意见;评判。7.沉思;严肃的考虑。8.图谋;用意。9.沉默的思考。10.挂念;关心;担心。11.期望。12.小的程度;少量。

词典经过许多变迁之后,终于在1755年4月15日出版,在全欧立刻被认为是一个里程碑。40个法国院士用了40年时间,才编出第一本法语国家词典。而约翰逊只靠一个人就编出他的词典。

约翰逊因其《词典》和其他作品而成名并如此受到景仰,他的朋友最后说服乔治三世,给了他一笔养老金。从此,他就不用为生计担忧了。

塞缪尔·约翰逊死于1784年12月13日,死后葬于威斯敏斯特大教堂。1791年,他的朋友兼学生鲍什维尔(Boswell)出版了他的传记,后来成为经典。

--摘自Robert McCrum《英语的故事》(中文版)

=========================

附:

BBC的介绍文章:《塞缪尔·约翰逊的A-Z

The A-Z of Samuel Johnson

One of the most influential contributors to modern language, Samuel Johnson's Dictionary is celebrating its 250th anniversary. As the Royal Mint marks the occasion by releasing a special set of 50p coins, the Magazine pays tribute with an A-Z of the man behind the book.

A is for Authoritative - Samuel Johnson's dictionary was not, as often thought, the first English dictionary. But the quality of definitions, its numerous senses of a term and the quotations to illustrate usage made it the standard English dictionary for a century and the basis for those that followed.

B is for Boswell - Johnson is probably remembered as much for things he said as those he wrote, largely thanks to his friend James Boswell who recorded in his biography, The Life of Samuel Johnson, many now-famous utterances.

C is for the Club - Johnson in 1764 helped found the Club, later renamed the Literary Club, whose members included Edmund Burke, Adam Smith and Boswell.

D is for Doctor - He was awarded Doctor of Laws degrees by Dublin University in 1765 and Oxford University in 1775, and is often referred to simply as Dr Johnson.

E is for English - Johnson's dictionary was intended to be the English equivalent of volumes produced decades earlier by Italian and French academies. A group of publishers contracted him to produce it in three years. When reminded that it had taken 40 French academics 40 years to produce theirs, Johnson apparently replied: "Forty times forty is sixteen hundred. As three to sixteen hundred, so is the proportion of an Englishman to a Frenchman."

F is for First impressions - Johnson was six feet tall, clumsy, partially blind and deaf, and suffered involuntary convulsions, leading many to mistake him as ill-mannered. Boswell's biography says painter William Hogarth thought Johnson was an "idiot" until the writer spoke to reveal his eloquence.

G is for Grave - Following his death on 13 December 1784, Johnson was buried in London's Westminster Abbey.

H is for Hodge - Johnson was a great lover of cats. Boswell's biography describes him buying oysters for Hodge, his pet at the home in Gough Square, London, where he wrote his dictionary. A statue of that "very fine cat indeed" now stands outside.

I is for Illness - Childhood illness including smallpox and scrofula - tuberculosis of the lymph nodes - left Johnson blind in one eye and almost deaf in one ear. His battle with ill health continued throughout his life.

J is for Journalism - Johnson made a living largely from journalism shortly after arriving in London. From 1738 he contributed to almost every edition of the Gentleman's Magazine, writing foreign and domestic news and book reviews.

K is for Kindness - Never experiencing great wealth himself, Johnson showed generosity and kindness to beggars, prostitutes, children and animals. One example is given in Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson, where he found a poor, tired woman lying in the street, carried her home and at 'considerable expense' had her taken into care.

L is for London - One of the dominant figures of 18th Century London literary life, Johnson said: "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life - for there is in London all that life can afford."

M is for Museums - Johnson was born on 7 September 1709 in his parents' home in Breadmarket Street, Lichfield, Staffordshire. The house survives as the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum. The Gough Square home where he wrote his dictionary is also a museum.

N is for Notorious - Some of Johnson's dictionary definitions blatantly revealed his own prejudices. In one entry he defined "patron" as "Commonly a wretch who supports with insolence, and is paid with flattery". His bitterness was the product of a row with the fourth Earl of Chesterfield, who had agreed to be the patron of the dictionary but then failed to produce financial backing, giving Johnson a measley £10. Another notorious definition was for "oats", which he said were "A grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people."

O is for Overdue - Johnson completed his dictionary in nine years, six years after the original deadline. One of the phrases it used to illustrate usage of the word "dull" read: "To make dictionaries is dull work."

P is for Poverty - His father was a bookseller and the family was beset by financial difficulties during Johnson's childhood. Lack of funds later forced him to leave Pembroke College, Oxford, before earning his degree. He struggled to support himself in teaching and journalism, and was not comfortable until, in 1762, the government granted him a £300 annual pension. Oxford University awarded him an honorary Masters in 1755.

Q is for Quotations - Johnson is said to be the second most-quoted person in English after Shakespeare. His famous sayings include: "A woman's preaching is like a dog's walking on his hind legs. It is not done well, but you are surprised to find it done at all." "A cucumber should be well-sliced, dressed with pepper and vinegar, and then thrown out." On drinking too much: "He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man."

R is for Regimen - Despite his physical ailments, Johnson participated in a variety of sports including swimming, rowing and riding. He was also known to walk great distances, which it was said he did to shrug off feelings of melancholy. He wrote: "Such is the constitution of man that labour may be styled its own reward; nor will any external incitements be requisite, if it be considered how much happiness is gained, and how much misery escaped, by frequent and violent agitation of the body."

S is for Sausage - A well-known scene in an episode of the comedy series Blackadder, Ink and Incapability, sends up Samuel Johnson and his dictionary. Taking a strong dislike to Johnson, Blackadder taunts him with impossible words he may have left out (such as "contrafibularities" and "pericombobulation"). It is only when Johnson reads Baldrick's own 'masterpiece' - about a "lovely little sausage called Baldrick", he realises he has omitted the word sausage, leading to him cry out and abandon his book.

T is for Travel - In 1773 Johnson and Boswell set off on a three-month journey to the then uncharted territory of the Scottish highlands and isles. The trip resulted in two books, Boswell's Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides, and A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland. Apparently while travelling, Johnson, inspired by the tales from James Cook's first voyage, imitated a kangaroo and allowed Boswell to dress him up in highland costume.

U is for Underhand - Speculation exists over a possible masochistic relationship between Johnson and one of his closest female friends - Hester Thrale. Although Hester was married to Henry Thrale, a businessman and MP, there is some evidence to suggest a deeper side to their friendship existed. A line in Johnson's diary in 1771, refers to some "mad reflection on shackles and hand-cuffs" while allegedly another letter to Hester, written in French, repeatedly alludes to bondage. A biography by Sir John Hawkins also indicated Johnson had a guilty secret about his sexual past.

V is for Vocabulary - While working on the dictionary, Johnson sought to expand his vocabulary by reading a wide range of specialist and technical texts. He also consulted a copy of Bailey's 1736 dictionary and read through a large collection of books for useful quotations.

W is for Wife - Johnson married Elizabeth Porter, more than 20 years his senior, in 1735. He was devoted to his wife, known as Tetty, until her death in 1752. He is believed to have later considered and decided against remarrying, describing second marriages as: "The triumph of hope over experience."

X is for Excluded - Samuel Johnson's dictionary had no entries for the letter "X" as he claimed that it begins no word in the English language.

Y is for Yuck - Samuel Johnson described the word "yuck" only as "itch" in his Dictionary, and wrote the word's origins to be Dutch.

Z is for Zed - Dr Johnson's definition read: "Zed n.s The name of the letter z. Thou whoreson zed, thou unnecessary letter. Shakespeare. "

优达学城

腾讯课堂

留言(1条)

这篇没有开放留言的文章http://www.ruanyifeng.com/blog/2006/07/never_send_to_know_for_whom_the_bell_tolls.html
名字起得真好!

我要发表看法

«-必填

«-必填,不公开

«-我信任你,不会填写广告链接