The earliest days of Estonian lexicography

By November 17, 2016,
AuthorMadis Jürviste
TitleThe earliest days of Estonian lexicography
AbstractThe first Estonian dictionaries were compiled by German pastors in the 17th century, at a time when bilingual lexicography was already rather widely spread in Western Europe. Why were these dictionaries compiled and for whom? What are the main characteristics of these dictionaries? In the article, an overview is given of the aspects relevant to historical lexicography of three authors: Heinrich Stahl and his Anführung zu der Esthnischen Sprach (1637), Johannes Gutslaff’s Observationes grammaticae circa linguam esthonicam (1648), as well as Heinrich Göseken’s Manuductio ad Linguam Oesthonicam (1660). These bilingual German-Estonian dictionaries were not independent works, but were published as appendixes of German- and Latin-based grammars for Estonian. Their authors were native speakers of German, outstanding members of the local clergy, and at the same time the first Estonian lexicographers. Regardless of the limited number of entries and several inconsistencies in presenting the information about target language equivalents, in addition to evident mistakes in the choice of certain equivalents, the importance of these works should not be underestimated: not only were these grammars and dictionaries the first such publications in the region, but they also helped to fix the orthographic standards of written Estonian. Even if the fact that current Estonian language has extensive German influences both in vocabulary and syntax is most probably not due to a direct impact of these grammars and dictionaries, these three works were influential in their own time (partially due to the importance of their authors in the local church hierarchy) and had a role in the development of the Estonian language.
Keywordshistorical lexicography, 17th century dictionaries, beginnings of Estonian lexicography.
author = {Madis Jürviste},
title = {The earliest days of Estonian lexicography},
pages = {892--896},
booktitle = {Proceedings of the 15th EURALEX International Congress},
year = {2012},
month = {aug},
date = {7-11},
address = {Oslo,Norway},
editor = {Ruth Vatvedt Fjeld and Julie Matilde Torjusen},
publisher = {Department of Linguistics and Scandinavian Studies, University of Oslo},
isbn = {978-82-303-2228-4},