CHWP B.7 Kibbee, "16th-Century Bilingual Dictionaries (French-English)"

1.5.2. Morphology

Morphological information is specifically represented by the lexicographers in a number of areas, either by abbreviation or by listing of variable forms. I am not including here the morphological variation found in example sentences or phrases, although that might be worth marking in a database.

Palsgrave and Hollyband mark the gender of French nouns by the use of standard abreviations, and Palsgrave regularly provides the mark of the plural (s, z, or occasionally x) after the singular form. Veron and Baret use abbreviations to indicate the gender of Latin nouns; sometimes Baret uses an article before the French noun to indicate its gender. For words that have gender-specific forms, or concepts that have gender-specific nouns, the tendency is to provide both, either as separate entries (example from Palsgrave) or within a single entry (example from Hollyband):

Veron, Baret and Huloet-Higgins indicate the declensional patterns of nouns in Latin by providing the genitive singular form. Roughly the same pattern holds for adjectives as well. Palsgrave lists variant forms of French adjectives, while all the dictionaries that include Latin do the same for that language.

As for verbs, Palsgrave is the only one to identify verbs by conjugational number, which serves as a reference to the grammatical portion of his work. Palsgrave also provides lists of principal parts ranging from one (the headword entry is the first-person singular present indicative), usually for compound verbs when the simple form is listed elsewhere, to three (first-person singular present and passé composé, + infinitive) for regular verbs, to as many as eight for irregulars. Hollyband announces in his introduction that he will provide principal parts for the difficult verbs, but he is inconsistent. Generally, he furnishes the first-person singular of the present, passé simple, and passé composé and future indicative, in addition to the headword entry of the infinitive. Veron and Junius-Higgins list five principal parts of the Latin verbs: first- and second-person singular present and first-person singular perfect, the past participle and the infinitive. Huloet-Higgins lists only the first two forms of the present, and Baret often limits himself to the infinitive. Again we must ask ourselves why the authors made the choices they did, concerning which languages would have morphological detail listed as well as the type and form of detail listed.

For Palsgrave and Hollyband, the primary purpose of the book is to help English speakers use French correctly, therefore morphological information is provided only for that language and not for English. For both of them as well, the variety of information provided in each individual case depends on the morphological detail provided elsewhere, either in the same book (as in Palsgrave) or in separate volumes (as in Hollyband). It is interesting to note here that for Hollyband the variation of the noun and adjective was generally a topic for the treatise De pronuntiatione (which is just as concerned with orthography as with pronunciation), while the verb conjugations are described in a different volume devoted to them. For the others, in which only the Latin forms include morphological information, we can point to the textual traditions on which they are based to explain the presence of declensional and conjugational forms. The lack of conjugational numbering as an abbreviatory convention points to confusion in the numbering of the declensions and conjugations, and to the lack of a direct connection between the dictionaries and the grammars of Latin being composed at the time. To test our hypotheses, we need to be able to sort entries by the type and quantity of information provided. This requires adding a tag to verb entries (for example) to represent the explicit morphological content of the entries (as opposed to the implicit information carried in example sentences and phrases): what forms, how many forms, in what language.

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