Author : Jean Florence Shaw
Description:A Carthusian monk at a priory near Abbeville, France, laid down his pen on April 30, 1440, ending twenty years work writing a Latin-French dictionary which is remarkable for its size, organization and comprehensiveness. Compiled by a cleric and based on a long tradition of medieval grammars and lexica, the Dictionarius of Firmin Le Ver would be the last of a line of manuscript bilingual dictionaries written in France. In 1539, a Parisian editor and printer produced a bilingual dictionary which is equally remarkable - for its organization, and for the fact that it is the first printed dictionary in which French is the language of entry. Based on a humanist tradition which sought to return the Latin language to its classical roots, the Dictionaire Francoislatin of Robert Estienne is intended to assist students in their apprenticeship in Latin. Nonetheless, the French definitions illustrate the adequacy of the vernacular to express the nuances of Latin meaning, and at the same time they provide a synchronic record of early sixteenth-century French. The Dictionaire Francoislatin is, understandably, regarded as the corner-stone of modern French lexicography. The century which separates Le Vers Dictionarius from Estienne's Dictionaire Francoislatin is a brief period in the long history of Western lexicography, but it is the bridge between two different cultures: medieval and humanist. Our study follows the transition from the manuscript to the printed tradition through examination of four families of bilingual Latin- French dictionaries printed in France during the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century. We look at their sources, both bilingual Latin-French and monolingual Latin dictionaries, and at their lexicographical methodology. We also identify internal relationships among successive editions of each dictionary, as well as external relationships among the four families.