These early views are evident in the (1859) which envisages a starting point for the dictionary of 1250 (the date of the ‘rise’ of ‘our language’), very much in accordance with the thinking of Herbert Coleridge (the first editor of the proposed dictionary), whose own in 1879 scholarly opinion had been revised to the extent that the starting point of English had become fixed a hundred years earlier in the mid-twelfth century (at roughly the time of writing of the final annals of the The present work aims at exhibiting the history and signification of the English words now in use, or known to have been in use since the middle of the twelfth century.This date has been adopted as the only natural halting-place, short of going back to the beginning, so as to include the entire Old English or ‘Anglo-Saxon’ Vocabulary.To do this would have involved the inclusion of an immense number of words, not merely long obsolete but also having obsolete inflexions, and thus requiring, if dealt with at all, a treatment different from that adapted to the words which survived the twelfth century…
But to words actually included this date has no application; their history is exhibited from their first appearance, however early.
(2000) 132) that had all of Old English been included in the New English Dictionary it would have resulted in an increase of about 10% in the overall size of the dictionary (or, in terms of the 20-volume , an additional two volumes).
This was no small practical consideration in terms of editing time, but a further, and perhaps more decisive, practical concern was simply that reliable editions of Old English texts had not at that time been produced in sufficient numbers, and without these the work of excerption of quotations for the dictionary was rendered practically impossible.
could quote that the Early English Text Society had been set up in 1864 by Murray’s predecessor as editor, Frederick Furnivall.
But the overwhelming majority of texts published by the society in the first twenty years of its existence were not Old but Middle English.
Back to top continues to adhere to the policy laid down by James Murray.
To change the policy at this point to include the entire vocabulary of Old English would be to replicate the work already well in progress of the University of Toronto’s it is now possible to take advantage of over a hundred years of Old English scholarship.
Old English (or Anglo-Saxon, as it is sometimes called) is the term used to refer to the oldest recorded stage of the English language, i.e.
from the earliest evidence in the seventh century to the period of transition with Middle English in the mid-twelfth century.
were being drawn up in the late 1850s, it was a commonly held view that the borderline between Old English and later forms of English should be regarded as 1250, rather than 1150.
In the scholarship of the time this earliest stage of English was in fact usually considered to be a wholly different language from later English—and therefore not properly within the remit of an English dictionary.