CHWP B.11 Siemens, "Lexicographical Method in Cawdrey"

4. Cawdrey's Stylistic Structures

As is stated on the title page of the Table Alphabeticall, Cawdrey's interest was in defining "hard vsual English wordes" (1604: A1r). By defining hard words, Cawdrey meant to deal with "any kind of word, old or new -- even proper names, which might present difficulties in understanding" (Schäfer 1970: 34), and not simply neologisms and inkhorn terms. In doing so, he defines almost exclusively open-class, or content, words[11] for his intended audience of "vnskilful persons", those who may not be able to understand some less commonly used words "which they shall heare or read in Scriptures, Sermons, or else where" (1609: A1r).

In his four editions, he provides in excess of 3,200 distinct definitions, covering more than 3,300 words.[12] Chiefly, Cawdrey's hard words are nouns; he provides 1,579 nominal definitions, including present participles which function as nouns. He also defines 826 adjectives, including past participles which function as adjectives, 795 lexical verbs, and 29 other words, which include 23 adverbs, four interjections, one preposition (maugre), and one pronoun (whilke) (figure 4).[13] Generally, his headwords are lemmatized; all but two percent (68) of all definitions follow a headword which is reduced to its lemma form, and these exceptions include 66 plural nouns, one ordinal noun, and one lexical verb in the first person singular.[14]

Cawdrey's definitions are also predominantly brief. In the 1604 edition, for example, three-quarters of definitions are made up of less than one short line of text, and some one-third are defined with three words or less. His most frequent method of definition is to provide a synonym or a number of synonyms, at times separated by a conjunction, an infinitive marker (to) and an infinitive verb, or a determiner (or adjective) followed by a noun. Of all his definitions, 1,171 words conform to these basic patterns.[15]

    Nouns (645/1579)[16]
    [det] n {[conj] [det] n} ...
      cheualrie, knight-hood
      reliques, the remainder
      assay, proof, or a triall
    Adjectives (310/826)
    adj {[conj] adj} ...
      fanaticke, madde
      , idle, lazie
      concise, briefe or short
    Lexical Verbs (216/795)
    [infm] lexv {[conj] [infm] lexv} ...
      reforme, amend
      argue, to reason
      barter, to bargaine or change

However, the remaining set of Cawdrey's definitions, some two-thirds of the total, are of a more complex style. In definitions of nouns, most common is a single synonym, occurring 245 times, and two single synonyms, occurring 145 times. Aside from the basic synonymic pattern of definition, he employs 607 unique repeating phrases which form two other common definition structures.[17] The first, which builds on the nominal-centred definitive method, employs adjectives, adverbs, and prepositions; these number 440.

    {[det] [adj] [adv] [prep]} n {[adv] [conj | prep] {det [det]} [adj] n [prep]} ...
      maiestie, the stately port and honourable renoun of any
      nadir, the point directly vnder us opposite to the Zenith

In the second, a pattern which is repeated 28 times, Cawdrey employs verbal phrases to define nouns.[18]

    [LVP] NP { {[PVP] [LVP]} | MVP} [NP] ...
      aduousion, patronage, or power to present, or giue a liuing
      ingine, an instrument to doe anything with

In defining verbs, Cawdrey employs 355 distinct repeating phrases, and the most frequent entries include a single synonymic lexical verb (83) or two of them (34). In addition to these simple definitions, Cawdrey employs two other patterns. The first, occurring 148 times, is strictly verbal and resembles synonymical definition except that it includes adverbs and prepositions.

    [infm] lexv {[adv] [prep]} {[conj] [infm] lexv [adv] [prep]} ...
      congeale, to harden, or ware hard, or freeze together
      abandon, cast away, or yeelde vp, to leaue or forsake

The second, repeated 136 times, includes adjectives and simple nominal phrases.

    [infm] lexv {[adv][prep]} {[adj] {[conj] adj} [NP]} {[conj] [infm] lexv [adv][prep]} ...
      conclude, make an end
      epitomise, to make an epitome, or to bring a book into a lesser volume

Cawdrey defines his adjectives with a total of 378 distinctly different repeating lexical sequences, and his most common definition consists of a single synonym (95) or two synonyms (91). His method of definition is best described as composing two distinct groups. The first has its basis in the synonymic method but introduces adverbs (34), noun phrases (114), and verb phrases (17) to add further information.

    [adv] adj {[conj] [adv] adj} ...
      instable, inconstant, not steddie
      energeticall, very forcible and strong
    [det] adj {[conj] [adv] adj} [NP] ...
      obseruant, dutifull, full of diligent seruice
      distraught, out of his wits
    [det] adj {PVP | LVP} {[conj] [adv] adj} [NP] ...
      conspicuous, easie to be seene, excellent
      vnweldie, not able to move, lumpish

The second group, which is much less frequent (33), are not so obviously synonymical; rather, they are centred upon phrases beginning with relational pronouns, such as that or that which; see below:

    prnrel [prnrel] [MVP | LVP] {NP | {[PVP | LVP] [adj] [conj] [adj] [prep]}} ...
      iudicious, that hath a good iudgement or vnderstanding
      preparatiue, that which maketh fit or prepareth

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[11] Open-class words contrast with closed-class, or grammatical, words such as pronouns, prepositions, conjunctions, and other words which denote function more than content in language.

[12] Synonymic headwords, which share common definitions, have only been counted once. Though, as Schäfer notes, the last edition has 3,264 headwords, Cawdrey had removed as well as added words throughout the four editions. All unique headwords and their definitions have been analyzed here.

[13] This breakdown is of a similar scale to that in his 1604 edition: nouns (49.6%), lexical verbs (25.1%), adjectives (24.6%), and other words (0.7%).

[14] Present- and past-participles of lexical verbs are typically defined by Cawdrey as nouns and adjectives, respectively.

[15] In these representations and those following, those parts of speech with no delimiters always appear in that position, those delimited by [ ] are optional, those delimited by { } are optional and appear as a group, and those separated by a vertical bar | are mutually exclusive. Punctuation, which though predominantly regular is at times inconsistent, has not been accounted for in this study.

[16] In this representation, 645 represents the minimum number of conforming patterns; 1579 is the total possible number, in this case the total number of nouns. This representation will be used throughout.

[17] To track repetitions, TACT's program Collgen, which notes exact repeating phrases, was used. This reduced the data such that structures could be mapped more easily.

[18] The legend to the above representation, and those following, is as below:

    Noun Phrase                NP
      {[adv] [prep] [conj] [det] [adj] n [prep] [adv]}
    Lexical Verb Phrase     LVP
      {[conj] [infm] lexv}
    Primary Verb Phrase    PVP
      {[conj] [infm] priv}
    Modal Verb Phrase      MVP
      {[conj] [infm] modv}

For purposes of simplification, any phrase centred on the noun is treated as a Noun Phrase.