Wednesday, 1 March 2017

An old dictionary

It was by mere chance that I stumbled across an eighteenth-century dictionary indicating stress though not pronunciation:
Thomas Dyche (17403), A new general English dictionary, (London). It's to be found at Here's the title page of the 3rd edition:

Thomas Dyche

Next a sample page, which shows, among other words, the stress pattern for forthcoming.
 The final 20 or so pages contain a list of names of persons and places with their stress patterns. This list ranges from Aaron and Abaddon over Monserrat and Montanus to Zygaces and Zygantes.

We don't know much about Dyche; there is, however,  an interesting article on Dyche (and his co-author Pardon) written by D.T. Starnes and G.E. Noyes: "Thomas Dyche and William Pardon's A New English Dictionary (1735)" to be found in R.R.K. Hartmann, ed. (2003), Lexicography, vol. 2, pp. 15-28 (London, New York).


  1. And the stress patterns of 1740 seem to be the same as now. Just one spelling difference between then and now. I wonder if this page is representative of the whole language.

    1. Thanks for taking a look! The sample page was not (and probably cannot) be representative of the dictionary, let alone the whole language.

  2. This is awesome. Learned a new word today, forsooth. Haha! Thanks for sharing! Cheers! :)
    Classes A to Z

  3. Stress is probably the most important linguistic attribute for a dictionary to show, whether your a non-native learner or a native seeing a word for the first time in print. Colleagues in Lund did an experiment (sorry no ref) that showed learners of Swedish were more comprehensible if they got stress right and vowels wrong than stress wrong and vowels right.

    For native speakers, stress placement is usually constant across the country while vowels and consonants can vary regionally.

    1. Sidney, any names of your colleagues in Lund who did this experiment?

    2. Sorry Petr, it must have been 40 years ago now. It could very likely have been Robert Bannert, who was working work close to that sort of topic and methodology. This is a talk he gave in 2005 that lists a number of references:

      Some more links:
      Antonis Botinis (ed). 2000. Intonation-Analysis, Modelling and Technology. Springer

      Sorry I can't get closer. Unfortunately it's too late to ask Robert himself.