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Thursday, 31 January 2013
Home arrow Types of source arrow 18th-century
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Portrait of a Woman [Madame Roland] (c. 1787) by Adelaide Labille-Guiard. Source: Wikipedia. Location: Musée des Beaux-Arts, Quimper, France.
As described in Period coverage (see page on 18th century), these years, particularly the early decades, were under-read for the first edition of OED. The result is that there are fewer eighteenth-century quotations in OED1 - and therefore OED2 - than there are seventeenth- and nineteenth-century quotations (see graph). The question arises, therefore, whether more extensive reading in eighteenth-century sources will turn up interesting new material which will have the effect of significantly changing OED's record of this period of the language.

The pages in this section review selected eighteenth-century authors and texts, many of them un-read by OED readers and editors, to see the extent to which they provide evidence of language usage significantly supplementing that already recorded in OED. Since women writers were particularly neglected by the original OED editors, these are the first object of study here. Both types of source - eighteenth-century, and female-authored sources - are also being specially re-read by the current OED editors in their work on the Third Edition of the Dictionary, as described in our page on OED3 quotation sources.

Sequences of pages on (initially) Jean Adam, Penelope Aubin, and Anna Seward begin with introductions to the respective writers and continue with comment on their language and its treatment in OED, listing samples of usages unrecorded or under-recorded in the Dictionary.

More general discussion can be found in pages on Women's distinctive vocabulary (including Distaff and kitchen and Courtship and marriage), while the great discrepancy between quotations for eighteenth-century male and female authors in the OED is illustrated with some examples and comment at Men and women compared. At the beginning is a note on Reading and recording conventions.

Research on Jane Austen, Mary Wortley Montagu, and Ann Radcliffe has been completed and we hope to put up pages on these writers' language over 2010. Future pages are planned on Mary Wollstonecraft - an interesting example of an author whose quotations have been sharply increased in number in OED3 (see figures at Men and women compared) - Eliza Haywood, Delariviere Manley, and Anne Finch.

Research for these pages was funded over 2009 by the Leverhulme Trust, whose support is gratefully acknowledged.

Reading and recording
Jean Adam
Nae Luck
Miscellany Poems
Unrecorded usages in Jean Adam
New words or senses
18c gap
Early 18c gap
Penelope Aubin
Aubin and OED
Unrecorded usages in Penelope Aubin
18c gap
Anna Seward
Early 18c gap
Seward's poetry
Justified neglect?
Unrecorded usages in Anna Seward's poetry
New words or senses
18c gap
18c top-up
Seward's letters
First quotations
Hapax legomena
Seward and OED3
Women's distinctive vocabulary
Distaff and kitchen
Courtship and marriage
Men and women compared

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