The death of the author, the birth of the lexicographer: How French historical dictionaries construct history
AuthorBaider, Fabienne H.
SourceInternational Journal of Lexicography
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We know that all dictionaries construct, perpetuate and legitimate authority because of their power to name and to authorize. However, one can legitimate the same information in different ways. These different ways will partly explain some of the discrepancies found within three French Historical dictionaries (the Littré version CD Rom, the Trésor de la langue française informatisée and the Robert historique ). Indeed their variable presentation of etymological information regarding some Middle French writers points to the lexicographer's role in the sanctification of some authors and the relegation to near oblivion of others. Syntheses, citations, and quotations allow the perpetuation of the exclusions some earlier dictionaries had practiced. These operations contribute therefore to the different scale on which Pizan, Oresme and Rabelais function as authors. They allow the lexicographer to re-define both object (the word) and subject (its author) inside the dictionary entry and outside the lexicographic institution, taking away the very authorship and, consequently, the authority these reference books could have established.