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

5. Conclusion: Assessing the Structures

The majority of Cawdrey's definitions, then, simple and complex alike, adhere to relatively set structures following the syntactic category of their headword. Much as might be expected, nouns are generally defined by one or more noun phrases, and at times with a verb phrase. Definitions of verbs most commonly contain a series of verb phrases, sometimes joined with a preposition and noun phrase. Adjectives are defined either by synonym(s) or with noun and verb phrases.

These structures are the measurable result of Cawdrey's compilation process in the Table -- of his expansion, contraction, regularization, and standardization -- and represent the basic elements of Cawdrey's style of definition. His use of these patterns, I believe, will distinguish him stylistically from other early modern English lexicographers; stylistic similarities in patterns of definition among early lexicographers such as Cawdrey, moreover, will illuminate links among them.

Because Cawdrey's Table Alphabeticall is situated in such a transitional location in the development of early modern English lexicography, the establishment of his style of definition promises to lead to further knowledge of the relationships among the early monolingual dictionaries. However, in an area of research which, by necessity, relies primarily upon comparative study, my study currently lacks the context which it ultimately requires. As well, a method of notation which fully reflects the stylistic structure of Cawdrey's entries, and which will allow comparatively unrestrictive stylistic comparison among differing texts, is needed. But, with the availability of additional electronic texts of other early Modern English monolingual dictionaries, and with further work towards the representation of stylistic information in such works, this context shall be found and, at that time, explored.

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