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French Special Collections: Dictionary collections

Highlights of our French dictionary collections

Morel, Fédéric, approximately 1552-1630.    Petit thresor des mots françois : selon l'ordre des lettres, ainsi qu'il les faut escrire, tournez en latin        1666    Rouen, 1666. DICT.A.1666

This is a very rare edition of a dictionary of which there is an earlier edition held at the Bibliothèque muncipale à vocation régionale Châlons-en-Champagne. It is not the first French-Latin dictionary.  This was Le dictionnaire françoislatin  (1539) of Robert Estienne which we do not hold.  The earliest French dictionaries were bilingual ones and the first truly monolingual French dictionaries would only start to appear at the end of the 17th century.

Furetière, Antoine, 1619-1688.    Essais d'un Dictionaire universel : contenant généralement tous les mots françois tant vieux que     1687    A Amsterdam : Chez Henry Desbordes ..., 1687.DICT.A.1687

This is the first attempt at one of the first truly monolingual French dictionaries the first edition of which was published in 1684.  Emphasis is placed on ideas and things which exist in the real world and it is thus a precursor of the encyclopedic dictionaries of Pierre Larousse. Most of the words defined are nouns.  Chien m chienne f Animal domestique, qui aboye, qui sert à garder la maison. The title does not suggest that this dictionary is in any way comprehensive but Furetière will publish his Dictionnaire universel in 1690.   This is considered to be one of the founding dictionaries of the French language. 

Richelet, Pierre, 1626-1698.    Nouveau dictionaire françois, contenant generalement tous les mots, les matieres, et plusieurs nouvelles remarques    Derniere edition éxactement revuë, corrigée & augmentée d'un tres grand nombre de mots & de phrases, & enrichie de plusieurs nouvelles observations, tant sur la langue, que sur les arts & sur les sciences..    1694    Sur l'Imprimé a Cologne, : Chez François Gaillard., M. DC. XCIV..DICT.B.1694 (2 t. in 1)

Another of the great founding dictionaries of the French language.  This is the first true monolingual dictionary of the French language with around 25,000 entries.  It had to be published outside France (our edition was published in Cologne while the first edition was published in Geneva in 1680) because the Académie Française was producing its own 'institutional' dictionary - the Dictionnaire de l'Académie (fnally published in 1694) and this had a monopoly within the borders of France.  This dictionary was the work of a team and was also one of the first dictionaries to use quotations to illustrate the meanings of lexical items.  Richelet's expressed intention was to produce a dictionary which would be based on the very best examples of French usage as exemplified in the works of leading French authors.There is an implication that the French language has a preeminence among languages vying for elegance and clarity with the classical languages.  The dictionary contains a number of distinctive personal flourishes rather reminiscent of Johnson's Dictionary. 

Philibert-Joseph Le Roux    Dictionnaire comique, satyrique, critique, burlesque, libre et proverbial : Avec une explication tre    Nouv. éd., rev. & cor. ...    1752    Lion : Héritiers de Beringos fratres, 1752.DICT.A.1752 (2 t. in 1)

This dictionary was first published in 1718 and is thought may have been based on an earlier dictionary which only existed in the form of a manuscript written by Richelet.

Lacombe, François, 1733-1795.    Dictionnaire du vieux langage françois, : enrichi de passages tirés des manuscrits en vers & en prose        1766    A Paris, : Chez Panckouche, libraire, rue & à côté de la Comédie Françoise, au Parnasse., M. DC DICT.A.1766

Chambaud, Louis, -1776.    The treasure of the French and English languages.    The seventh edition, corrected and improved.   1786    London, 1786.DICT.A.1786.C

If the word 'Trésor' was used by earlier dictionaries to denote the range and variety of the vocabulary which they contained, by the end of the 18th century it takes on a more specialised meaning.  Here 'treasure' relates to the most useful vocabulary for learning a language.  The arrangement of this bilingual dictionary is by topic moving from general to particular:  'Des choses en général = Of things in general', 'Du monde = Of the world', 'D'une ville = Of a city'.    In the city we are given the word for 'une triperie' or a tripe-market as well as 'une friperie' which is a 'frippery such as Monmouth St &c, or place where old clothes are sold'.  Later on there are 'Façons de parler =Common forms of speech'. Chambaud's dictionary was first published in 1761.  A remarkable forerunner of Chambaud's dictionary is the dictionary of Cotgrave first published in 1611.



French dictionaries - Bibliography

La lexicographie française du XVIe au XVIIIe siècle : actes du Colloque International de Lexicographie dans la Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel (9-11 octobre 1979) Colloque International de Lexicographie (1979 Wolfenbüttel) | Höfler, Manfred | Herzog August Bibliothek 1982 | Wolfenbüttel : Herzog August Bibliothek, 1982 A/A.5135.A.14

Barsi, Monica  Le "Dictionnaire burlesque" de Richelet et sa continuation par Philibert Joseph Le Roux pp63-79 in  Lingua, cultura e testo: miscellanea di studi francesi in onore di Sergio Cigada Milano: Vita e Pensiero, 2003  A/A 1820 A.354(1)

Dubois, Jean  Introduction à la lexicographie: le dictionnaire Paris: Larousse, 1971  A/A 5155.A.11

Matoré, Georges  Histoire des dictionnaires français Paris: Larousse, 1967  A/A 5135. A.4

Pruvost, Jean Les dictionnaires de langue française Vendôme; Presses universitaires de France, 2002  A/A 5135 A.28

Quemada, Bernard Les dictionnaires du français moderne, 1539-1863  Paris: Didier, 1967

Schwartze, Roderich. Die "Wörterbücher der französischen Sprache" vor dem Erscheinen des "Dictionnaire de l'Académie française"; 1350-1694 : ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der französischen Lexicographie ..1875

Wooldridge, Terence Les débuts de la lexicographie française : Estienne, Nicot et le "Thresor de la langue françoyse" (1606)  Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1977  B/C 5859.A.1