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

1.5.3. Syntax

Within the dictionaries syntax is often explained implicitly by the use of examples, more rarely explicitly by structural description. Because Palsgrave combined the dictionary with the grammar, there is far greater insertion of syntactic information into the lexical portion. The entire pronoun section is cross-referenced with the grammatical rules presented earlier in book III. In the table of verbs Palsgrave includes a number of long explanations, particularly about compound or periphrastic constructions:

Hollyband, repeating a commonplace from the Latin lexicographic tradition, observes that the letter a "serveth many times to express the dative case".

Implicit grammatical relationships are most often represented by generalizing examples. By this term I mean the use of pronominal object to show types of complementation. The choice of pronominal object may also represent the semantic choices available (animate or inanimate):

Literary examples with nominal complements can serve the same function but in those instances it is less certain that that is the primary function.

Nowhere in the dictionaries do we find the clear description of verbal syntax that most modern dictionaries include: transitivity, intransitivity; ability to take a prepositional or subordinate-clause complement. The inclusion of generalizing examples is a recognition of the importance of this type of information, but the lack of systematic indications is symptomatic of the general weakness of the syntactic portions of the grammars. The notions of complement and governance were slowly developing (see Chevalier, 1968), but still far from widely received. This 'weakness' itself is related to the prevailing attitude toward the word and its part in 'construction'. The primacy of the former might itself be viewed as an artifact of the glossing tradition of Biblical exegesis. These explanations of the syntactic content need to be proven by the kind of evidence that only these databases can provide. In order to extract the data necessary for that task, entries should be tagged for type and manner of presentation of syntactic information.

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