Tracing Inspiration in Proverbial Material: From 'The Royal Dictionary' (1699 & 1729) of Abel Boyer to 'The English-Irish Dictionary' (1732) of Begley-McCurtin.

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This metalexicographic study examines the relationship between the proverbial material in The English-Irish Dictionary (1732) of Begley and McCurtin, Abel Boyer’s The Royal Dictionary (First edition 1699, second edition 1729), and Nathaniel Bailey’s An Universal Etymological English Dictionary (1721). It will show, for the first time, that both the English macrostructure and microstructure of the proverbial entries in Begley and McCurtin (1732) were reproduced directly from Boyer’s dictionary and, in spite of claims to the contrary, the impact of Bailey’s (1721) dictionary was negligible. Furthermore, empirical data gleaned from a comparative linguistic analysis of the various editions of The Royal Dictionary prior to 1732, will prove that it was the second official edition (1729) that was used as the framework for The English-Irish Dictionary. A quantitative and qualitative analysis of the nature of the proverbial entries will also outline the various translation strategies that were used to compose the Irish material— particularly literal translation—and show that there are extremely high-levels of borrowings from Boyer (1729), both in terms of the English entries under the lemma, and the French entries in the comment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-57
Number of pages35
JournalInternational Journal of Lexicography
Issue number1
Early online date28 Jul 2012
Publication statusPublished - 2013



  • Bilingual Lexicography
  • Irish Proverbs
  • French Proverbs
  • Paremiology

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