Sam English

Sam English

Samuel English was born in Coleraine, County Londonderry, in July, 1910. In 1924 his family moved to Dalmuir in Scotland, and for a time he worked at the John Brown & Company Shipyard.

English, a goalscoring centre-forward, played football for Yoker Athletic before signing as a professional for Glasgow Rangers in July, 1931.

On 5th September, 1931, Celtic played Rangers in front of an 80,000 crowd at Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow. Early in the second half Sam English raced through the Celtic defence and looked certain to score, when John Thomson dived at his feet. Thomson's head collided with English's knee and he was taken unconscious from the field. According to The Scotsman, Thomson "was seen to rise on the stretcher and look towards the goal and the spot where the accident happened". Thomson was taken to the Victoria Infirmary but he had fractured his skull and he died at 9.25 that evening.

The official enquiry later found that the collision was an accident, and cleared English of any blame. However, he was always jeered by Scottish crowds during future games. This did not stop English from having a great first season, scoring a record 53 goals (44 in the league). He also won a Scottish Cup medal in 1932 when when Rangers beat Kilmarnock 3-0.

The following season English helped Rangers win the First Division of the Scottish League. That year he won two international caps for Northern Ireland.

In August 1933 Liverpool paid £8,000 for English. He had a good start scoring 13 goals in his first 16 games in the First Division of the Football League. He ended the season with 21 goals. The 1934-35 season was more of a struggle and in July 1935 he was sold to Queen of the South for £1,700. This move was not a success and in July 1936 he was given a free transfer to Hartlepool United.

English retired from football in May 1938. He told a friend that since the accident that killed John Thomson he had "seven years of joyless sport". He worked as a coach for Duntocher Hibernians and Yoker Athletic before finding employment in a shipyard.

Sam English was forced to retire early when he developed motor neurone disease. He died in the Vale of Leven Hospital, in West Dunbartonshire in April 1967.

More than 80,000 were at Ibrox to witness an event that has remained imprinted on the Scottish football psyche ever since. With the second half barely five minutes old, Rangers striker Sam English broke free and lined up to shoot from near the penalty spot. He seemed certain to score, when Thomson launched one of his do-or-die head-first saves at the attacker's feet. It was Thomson's trademark save - in February 1930 against Airdrie he'd been injured doing exactly the same thing, fracturing his jaw and injuring his ribs. This time there was an even more sickening crunch, Thomson's head colliding with English's knee at the moment of greatest impact. It was no longer a do-or-die moment, it was a do-and-die. The ball ran out of play, English fell to the ground and rose limping, Thomson lay unconscious, blood seeping into the pitch.

The dazed English was the first to realise the seriousness of the blow and hobbled over to the unmoving keeper, waving urgently for assistance. Celtic fans were cheering the missed goal, Rangers fans were taunting the injured keeper, but the gravity of the situation was soon upon them. Rangers' captain Davie Meiklejohn raised his arms to implore the home fans to be silent. A hush descended over the ground. In the stands Margaret Finlay, Thomson's fiancee, broke down as she saw him borne from the ground, head wrapped in bandages, body limp...

What followed was an outpouring of public grief that, it is said, briefly united communities across the sectarian divide. In Bridgeton, Glasgow, traffic was brought to a halt by thousands of pedestrians walking past a floral tribute to Thomson, placed in a shop window by the local Rangers supporters club. And at Glasgow's Trinity Congregational Church there were unruly scenes when thousands struggled to get into Thomson's memorial service. Women screamed with alarm at the crush and only swift action by police cleared a passageway and stemmed the rush. Celtic right-half Peter Wilson, who was due to read a lesson, failed to gain entrance and found himself stranded outside the church for the ceremony.

Tens of thousands went to Queen Street station to see the coffin off on its train journey home to Fife. Many thousands more made the same journey: by train, by car and by foot. Unemployed workers walked the 55 miles, spending the night on the Craigs, a group of hills behind Auchterderran. In Fife, local pits closed down for the day and it seemed as if the whole of Scotland had swelled the small streets of Cardenden. Thomson's coffin, topped by one of his international caps and a wreath in the design of an empty goal, was carried by six Celtic players the mile from his home to Bowhill cemetery, where he was laid to rest in the sad and quiet graveyard populated by the victims of many, many mining disasters.

Sam Smith

Sam Smith was born in London in May 1992 and began singing at a young age. They first hit the charts as the featured singer on the 2012 Disclosure song "Latch," and released their first single, "Lay Me Down," soon after. In 2014, Smith released In the Lonely Hour, their heartfelt debut full-length album. It contained the smash hit "Stay With Me," a radio staple over the course of the entire year. For their work on In the Lonely Hour, Smith was awarded four Grammys, among them Song of the Year and Record of the Year. In 2019, Smith announced that they prefer to use non-binary pronouns.

Early Retail Career

Following college, Walton got his first real taste of the retail world when took a job in Des Moines with the J.C. Penney Company, which was still a relatively small retailer. After serving as an Army captain in an intelligence unit during World War II, Walton returned to private life in 1945 and used a $25,000 loan from his father-in-law to acquire his first store, a Ben Franklin franchise in Newport, Arkansas.

In less than two decades, Walton, working with his younger brother, James, came to own 15 Ben Franklin stores. But frustration over the management of the chain, in particular the decision to ignore Walton’s push to expand into rural communities, prompted him to strike out on his own.

History Of South African English

But how did SAE become what it is today? Let’s take a look at the history of this variety of English, which is now spoken as a first language by around five million people.

1795 : The British first introduced English to Southern Africa when they set up a military base in what was, at the time, called the Cape Colony. The aim was to gain some control of the trade routes between Europe and Asia via the Cape of Good Hope. At that point, they were not intending to create a permanent settlement.

1820 : The first major influx of English speakers settled in the Eastern Cape. There were around 5,000 people, mostly, but not entirely, of working class background from Britain.

1822 : The governor of Cape Colony, Lord Charles Somerset, declared English to be the official language of the colony.

1840-50 : The next wave of English speakers arrived in the colony, who were mostly retired military personnel and aristocrats from Britain.

1875-1904 : Another wave of native English speakers arrived at the colony, with more varied accents than those who had come before. They (or more precisely their children) quickly lost their accents, as they assimilated to the somewhat established accent that was currently developing. Nostalgia for “the home country” (i.e. Britain) became part of the colony’s national consciousness. This basically meant that colonial English speakers looked up to British English, resulting in their standard accent becoming more similar to Standard British English than it had been before.

1910 : The Union of South Africa was formed. Both English and Dutch were given official language status.

1961 : South Africa became its own independent country, no longer a British colony.

1994 : Nine other languages were given official status (Zulu, Xhosa, Afrikaans, Northern Sotho, Southern Sotho, Tswana, Tsonga, Swazi, Venda and Southern Ndebele), and eight more were recognized as regional languages (Gujurati, Hindi, Urdu, Northern Ndebele, Phuthi, Portuguese, Tamila and Telugu).

South African English is an interesting example of how colonization, immigration, and contact between different languages can produce a distinct but intelligible variety of an established language in a short time. With only just over 200 years of history, English in South Africa has become its own clearly recognizable variety with its own quirks and intricacies.

Sam English - History

Who Killed Sam Cooke?

On December 11, 1964, Sam Cooke, the King of Soul was shot three times in a seedy motel in Los Angeles, California. According to the facts of the case, Cooke had been robbed by a 22-year old woman who was said to be a call girl.

The woman who shot and killed him, however, was the hotel manager, 55-year old Bertha Franklin. In retelling the incident, Miss Franklin claimed that she shot and beat the singer to death after he ‘kicked in the door of her apartment’ in a search for the woman caller who robbed him.

When asked further, Miss Franklin claimed she killed him in self-defense after having heard reports from another motel resident that there was a prowler in the area. She states that ‘despite his celebrity, she didn’t know who he was.’

I have a theory about this. In my speech, and I believe that of many other Americans, an "h" in an unstressed syllable is either not pronounced or barely pronounced, except when it follows a vowel sound or a pause. This is an adjustment that is made unconsciously people often don't notice that they're not pronouncing the "h". I say "a historical", but "some istorical".

The rule for a/an is that you use "an" before words which start with a vowel sound, and "a" before words that start with a consonant sound.

Both "a historical" and "an (h)istorical" are consistent with these rules here by (h), I mean the "h" is pronounced very lightly, if at all. Most people use the first, but some people use the second. I think nearly all Americans pronounce the "h" in "historical" when the word stands alone, but after an indefinite article, some drop the "h" and use "an".

In the word "history", the first syllable is stressed, so the "h" is always pronounced. So "an history" isn't allowed by these rules.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

Samuel Johnson, c.1750 © Johnson was an English writer and critic, and one of the most famous literary figures of the 18th century. His best-known work is his 'Dictionary of the English Language'.

Samuel Johnson was born in Lichfield, Staffordshire, on 18 September 1709. His father was a bookseller. He was educated at Lichfield Grammar School and spent a brief period at Oxford University, but was forced to leave due to lack of money. Unable to find teaching work, he drifted into a writing career. In 1735, he married Elizabeth Porter, a widow more than 20 years his senior.

In 1737, Johnson moved to London where he struggled to support himself through journalism, writing on a huge variety of subjects. He gradually acquired a literary reputation and in 1747 a syndicate of printers commissioned him to compile his 'Dictionary of the English Language'. The task took eight years, and Johnson employed six assistants, all of them working in his house off Fleet Street.

The dictionary was published on 15 April 1755. It was not the first such dictionary, but was certainly the most important at that time. In Johnson's lifetime five further editions were published, and a sixth came out when he died.

Johnson's wife had died in 1752 and shortly afterwards Francis Barber, a former slave from Jamaica, joined Johnson's household as a servant. He lived with Johnson for more than 30 years, as did his wife and children, and became Johnson's heir.

Johnson was continually short of money, despite the success of his dictionary. In 1762, his financial situation was alleviated when he was awarded a government pension.

In 1763, he met James Boswell, a young Scottish lawyer, whose 'Life of Johnson' (published in 1791) did much to spread Johnson's name. In 1773, Johnson and Boswell set out on a three-month tour of the Scottish Highlands and the Hebrides. Both wrote accounts of their travels. Johnson spent considerable time in Edinburgh in the 1770s.

Johnson was by now the leader of the London literary world, and a friend of notable artists and writers such as Joshua Reynolds, Edmund Burke, Oliver Goldsmith and David Garrick. Another important friendship for Johnson was with Henry Thrale, a wealthy brewer and member of parliament, and his wife Hester. Johnson became part of their family, treating their London houses as second homes.

What Samuel Johnson Really Did

Samuel Johnson, poet, satirist, critic, lexicographer, and dyed-in-the-wool conservative was born in Lichfield, Staffordshire, England, on September 18, 1709. We are quickly approaching the tercentenary of Johnson’s birth scholars worldwide have been celebrating throughout the year. If someone’s birthday is worth celebrating three hundred years after the fact, inevitably partygoers will spread their praise pretty thick, as praise for Johnson has been spread since James Boswell’s Life of Samuel Johnson was published in 1791. As a result, legend has sometimes obscured the truth. Among other aspects of his career, Johnson’s contributions to English lexicography are often misunderstood. It serves both Johnson’s legacy and the history of lexicography to revalue his influence on the modern dictionary.

Though he disparaged Johnson’s style, as well as his literary and political judgment, Thomas Babington Macaulay, in the Edinburgh Review in 1831, admitted that, due to Boswell, Johnson would be “more intimately known to posterity than other men are known to their contemporaries.” We tend to presume on that acquaintance. Johnson scholar Jack Lynch anticipated the tercentenary spirit by asserting (in the title of his recent selection) that Johnson’s A Dictionary of the English Language is the “work that defined the English language.” The English language was doing pretty well before Johnson got involved nevertheless, he has been taken for the Jupiter of lexicography since before his dictionary appeared in print in 1755. For all the mythology, you’d think English vocabulary had sprung fully formed and irreproachable from his prominent, Augustan forehead.

Johnson may well be the most celebrated lexicographer of English, yet many claims about his lexicography are exaggerated. Conventional wisdom holds that Johnson single-handedly conceived and produced A Dictionary of the English Language. Though he gave up several years of full-time work to the Dictionary, Johnson wasn’t the first professional lexicographer: John Kersey, author of A New English Dictionary, published in 1702, probably owns that distinction. And Johnson did not write his dictionary alone: He had half a dozen assistants, and the history of lexicography tells us that assistants influence dictionary-making more than either eighteenth-century social hierarchies or the Great Author theory behind Johnson’s reputation admits.

Nor was Johnson’s the first dictionary to employ literary quotations to illustrate meaning or usage. Putting aside major early modern dictionaries produced in France, Italy, and Portugal, John Florio’s Italian-English dictionary, A Worlde of Wordes was, in 1598, the first at least partially English dictionary to use quotations, and by no means the last preceding Johnson. Johnson is also often credited with introducing sense divisions into dictionary entries, but Benjamin Martin had used them in Lingua Britannica Reformata, published in 1749. Martin may have got the idea from Johnson’s Plan of a Dictionary in 1747, for Johnson proposed to “sort the several senses of each word, and to exhibit first its natural and primitive significance,” followed by “its consequential meaning,” and then “the remoter or metaphorical signification.” Whoever came up with it, no one doubts, in retrospect, that it was a good plan.

Johnson is admired for his witty definitions. No horticultural definition of oats for Johnson, but rather the infamous “a grain which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people.” Alas, for the mythographers, Johnson was not even the first English lexicographer to write a memorable definition. Everyone knows that Johnson defined lexicographer as ‘harmless drudge’ or, at least, they know that someone did. Well over a century earlier, in 1611, however, Randle Cotgrave, in A Dictionarie of the French and English Tongues gave us “Brunette, brunet, brownish, somewhat browne . . . a nut-brown girle,” a literary allusion (the nut-brown girl is a figure of late medieval balladry) appropriate to a culture less cosmopolitan than Johnson’s. Granted, the harmless drudge is currently a more familiar figure than the nut-brown girl, especially in America. And, importantly, though Cotgrave borrowed a culturally resonant figure to serve his purpose, Johnson invented his: Among early English lexicographers, Johnson was the first to write memorably by design he was the first to assert the cultural authority of dictionary definitions.

Famously, Johnson established the conservative prescriptive goal of some (by no means all) modern lexicography. As he wrote in the Plan, he proposed to write “a dictionary by which the pronunciation of our language may be fixed, and its attainment facilitated by which its purity may be preserved, its use ascertained, and its duration lengthened.” Apprised of pure English by his Dictionary, Johnson’s readers should accept the standard of clear meaning and good usage revealed there. “Our language will be laid down,” he wrote elsewhere in the Plan, “distinct in its minutest subdivisions, and resolved into its elemental principles. And who upon this survey can forbear to wish, that these fundamental atoms of our speech might obtain the firmness and immutability of the primogenial and constituent particles of matter, that they might retain their substance while they alter their appearance, and be varied and compounded, yet not destroyed?” As Macaulay quipped, “When he wrote for publication, he did his sentences out of English into Johnsonese.”

Chris Porter, Special Collections, Vassar College Libraries

Johnson’s conservative attitude toward English and the dictionary’s role in preserving and protecting the language has attracted many adherents. Johnson was by no means the first English prescriptivist: In 1586, William Bullokar, in Bullokars Bref Grammar for English, suggested that “A dictionary and grammar may stay our speech in a perfect use for euer.” Johnson was, however, the first to write a dictionary explicitly to accomplish prescriptive goals. Once again, Benjamin Martin anticipated Johnson in his 1749 volume Lingua Britannica Reformata, in this case, disapprovingly: “The pretence of fixing a standard to the purity and perfection of any language,” he wrote, “is utterly vain and impertinent.” In the Plan, then, Johnson started an argument about the role of dictionaries in establishing and regulating English usage, one that persists in various, sometimes diametrically opposed, public expectations for what dictionaries should be.

If Johnson’s Dictionary wasn’t the first at most things, why is it so often taken as the original modern dictionary? As Sidney Landau puts it in Dictionaries: The Art and Craft of Lexicography, “Johnson’s Dictionary is not distinguished by its innovations . . . but by the skillful and original execution” of techniques already established, albeit provisionally, in early modern English lexicography. “What Johnson did, he did supremely well,” Landau concludes. And that’s true, partly due to Johnson’s insight and skill: He more aptly identified quotations wrote reasonably accurate, often elegant, if sometimes controversial, definitions he was even good at guessing etymologies, though he worked without the benefit of the new philology of Rasmus Rask, Franz Bopp, and the Grimms. Johnson was also notably ambitious, however: his was an Olympian lexicography.

Many (though not all) dictionaries of the seventeenth century, from Robert Cawdrey’s A Table Alphabeticall, published in 1604 and generally considered the first dictionary of English, and Henry Cockeram’s 1623 The English Dictionarie or, An Interpreter of Hard English Words forward, were schoolbooks compiled by provincial schoolmasters and tutors. Reading was hard and, for many, new, and children in parochial schools needed dictionaries as pedagogical support—dictionaries were means, not ends. Johnson’s was the first English dictionary that clearly aspired to literary distinction, certainly something beyond the schoolroom.

Unlike its predecessors, Johnson’s Dictionary was written on a grand scale, attempting to perfect the dictionary as a type of book and to change the terms on which dictionaries were valued by London’s literati. Word by word, the Dictionary was interesting and memorable. Boswell records that Oliver Goldsmith, author of The Vicar of Wakefield, once remarked to Johnson, “If you were to make a fable about little fishes, doctor, they would talk like whales.” Similarly, and in contrast to earlier lexicography, Johnson’s dictionary entries—little critical essays about lexical form, meaning, and usage—talk in voices big enough to carry across the centuries.

Unlike earlier dictionaries, too, Johnson’s Dictionary was urbane. Johnson assumed levels and types of literacy that seventeenth-century lexicographers could not safely assume, and the purpose, structure, and style of his Dictionary suit the age and place, London, in which it was written, published, and, for the most part, read. Thomas Babington Macaulay accused Johnson of believing, “in defiance of the strongest and clearest evidence, that the human mind can be cultivated by books alone.” Johnson inserted dictionaries into literary culture: He convinced readers that perfect cultivation of the human mind required a dictionary, preferably his Dictionary, not merely as a work of reference, but as a book worth reading for its own sake. Johnson’s great contribution to the history of English lexicography was to conceive the dictionary, not as a schoolroom prop, but as a type of literary work.

Johnson wrote only one dictionary, but in that one he initiated several dictionary genres. Definitions like those for oats, lexicographer, and excise (“a hateful tax levied upon commodities and adjudged not by the common judges of property but wretches hired by those to whom excise is paid”) were a form of cultural criticism. Of course, most modern dictionaries favor objective definitions written in a dispassionate voice, but Johnson established the oblique traditions of facetious and political lexicography, setting the example for Ambrose Bierce, a century and a half later, in The Devil’s Dictionary and the editors of McSweeney’s, two and a half centuries later, in The Future Dictionary of America, among others. Though Johnson was not the first to employ literary quotations to illustrate usage and meaning, he was the first English lexicographer to conceive entries as necessarily incorporating quotations, the first to concentrate on quotations as an aspect of dictionary structure. His refined use of quotations proposed yet another genre, “the quotations dictionary.”

The quotations prompted Irish poet John Todhunter, in The Cornhill Magazine, to insist in 1898, “There is much good reading in a dictionary.” For some, “the pages of old Johnson, so redolent of ‘the Sage’s’ own burly personality” are attractive especially because of the quotations though no quotation claims the reader’s attention for very long, it can claim it intensely: “Here is digression! But what of that? One of the charms of reading a dictionary, indeed its most fascinating charm, is that it inevitably leads to that volatile discourse of reason which induces healthy respiration in the mind.” In a 1916 issue of The Athenæum, we learn that “when Browning decided to adopt literature as a profession, he qualified himself for it by studying Johnson’s dictionary from one end to the other. He had in the course of his perusal, we do not doubt, amusement as well as instruction, and any dictionary is good reading to a man like Browning, dowered with the eager and lively mind which sees notable things everywhere.”

The quotations dictionary, as realized in Johnson’s Dictionary and later in the Oxford English Dictionary, is by its very purpose and structure a readable dictionary. (In fact, the account of Browning just quoted appears in a review of the OED, drawing the two dictionaries into the same literary genealogy.) Looked at one way, these dictionaries are thematic anthologies, in which the “themes” are the words and meanings the quotations are supposed to illustrate. Of course, one can peruse the quotations on a printed page without much concern for the rest of the dictionary apparatus. Most readers, however, move back and forth between editorial commentary (definitions, etymologies, recommendations about usage) and the quotations. This is the ultimately satisfying quality of the quotations dictionary. It isn’t merely a reference for looking up words: It invites the reader’s intervention and judgment it prompts a conversation the content and quality of which depends as much on the reader’s experience, knowledge, and imagination as the lexicographer’s.

The OED was first published (somewhat irregularly) in parts, and those interested in the English language subscribed, as though it were a periodical. As the Saturday Reviewadmitted in 1887, “A dictionary is a book of reference, and under the word book we are told in this volume that a book of reference means ‘a book referred to for information rather than read continuously.’ We doubt not that we shall often refer to the Philological Society’s Dictionary for information, but at present we must except to the definition, having several times taken up this Part with the good intention of making classified and other notes, and reporting thereon in an orderly manner, and after five or ten minutes wholly surrendered to the temptation of reading it continuously.” As a readable dictionary, the OED owed much to Johnson’s example and Johnsonian canons of lexicography.

Plagued by financial problems for much of his life, Johnson, who, in fact, had to drop our of Pembroke College in Cambridge, before earning his degree, would fully appreciate the irony that a first edition of his 1755 Dictionary, above, can now go for as much as $25,000, the equivalent of some college tuitions.

Courtesy Manhattan Rare Book Company

The OED, which attempts to describe the language as speakers use it rather than to prescribe how they should use it, has not satisfied those who adhere to the conservative linguistic principles espoused by Johnson, those who believe in the possibility of “pure” English, those distressed by language change and inconsistent usage. An anonymous reviewer of the first part of OED (A–ANT) in the Nation, in 1884, announced that “the fault we should find with it is that there has been neglect, comparatively speaking, of authors of the highest class, and too much prominence given to those of an inferior grade” and argued that “the illustrative quotations are, for men engaged in the profession of writing, perhaps the most important part of any lexicon. It is always desirable to ascertain the usage of an age but it is the usage of its best authors we wish, and not of its poor or poorest ones. To record that best usage is a main duty of any dictionary.” Here, the reviewer reiterates Johnson’s prescriptivism and the value Johnson ascribed to quotations dictionaries in pursuit of standards of meaning and usage.

I was tempted to write that the reviewer merely reiterates Johnson, but there isn’t anything mere about it: Johnson’s language attitudes have been profoundly influential. Many have seen, still see, language change as something to be regretted if not reversed, and they believe that dictionaries should play a role in resisting variation and change. Just as many have rejected Johnson’s attitudes, if not his regret, at least his sense that dictionaries should be instruments of social control. As noted above, Benjamin Martin disagreed, and so did Noah Webster. Considering proposals to establish an American language academy on the French or Italian model, Webster wrote in 1817 in A Letter to the Honorable John Pickering that “analogy, custom and habit form a better rule to guide men in the use of words than any tribunal of men,” and the dictionary’s role was thus limited to informing speakers, rather than extended to regulating usage.

Nineteenth- and twentieth-century English lexicography developed partly as a consequence of the argument between those who thought dictionaries should prescribe usage and those who thought they should describe it instead. The OED and its American counterpart, William Dwight Whitney’s Century Dictionary, stood for description. Joseph Worcester, whose dictionaries engaged Merriam-Webster in what is often called “the War of the Dictionaries” (1834–1860) inclined toward Johnson’s position, though he took time to discuss problems of usage in some detail when the Merriam-Webster dictionaries did not. Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, published in 1961, ignited a firestorm of criticism because many thought (incorrectly, by the way) that it was more “permissive” than the 1934 Webster’s New International Dictionary, Second Edition.

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, with its panel of usage experts and Worcesterian usage notes attached to entries for problematic words, was instituted as a response to Webster’s Third. As its editor, William Morris, announced in the front matter to the first edition in 1969, the dictionary would “faithfully record our language,” but “would add the essential dimension of guidance, that sensible guidance towards grace and precision which intelligent people seek in a dictionary.” Merriam-Webster dictionaries, American Heritage dictionaries, Random House dictionaries, Webster’s New World dictionaries, and Encarta dictionaries all compete (or have competed) with one another partly on the basis of how they represent usage and how they guide it, how they stand for change or against it, how they balance the status of standard American English and other varieties, in other words, how they fit into paradigms Johnson established in 1755.

The argument Johnson started over the dictionary’s public role, though divisive, is not merely divisive, not merely an aspect of the culture wars, but potentially beneficial. Dictionaries position themselves in the debate: Their responses are complex, not knee-jerk expressions of one polar position or the other. For some, disagreement among dictionaries is confusing or, given a certain strain of conservatism, offensive for others, the disagreements inform a thoughtful perspective on language and its social uses. Johnson was the first language maven, the first to take a leading public role in language criticism. To borrow a rhetorical maneuver from Lynch, he defined the dictionary’s role and value—he made the dictionary matter. That was not a foregone conclusion in the eighteenth century, nor is it today: It will be interesting to see how the dictionary progresses in the Digital Age.

In his 1755 review of Johnson’s Dictionary, in the Edinburgh Review, Adam Smith suggested that “its merit must be determined by the frequent resort that is had to it. This is the most unerring test of its value criticisms may be false, private judgments ill-founded but if a work of this nature be much in use, it has received the sanction of public approbation.” Readers still resort to Johnson’s Dictionary—you can do so from any personal computer if you invest in the recent Octavo DVD-ROM facsimile edition. But Johnson’s dictionary is most significant for the way it stimulated lexicography, raised the status and interest of the dictionary as a literary and cultural artifact, and generated new genres of dictionary. Thomas Carlyle suggested of Johnson, in Fraser’s Magazine in 1832, that he was “the synopsis and epitome” of his age. The Dictionary may effectively be the synopsis and epitome of Johnson’s genius.

Michael Adams is provost professor of English language and literature at Indiana University in Bloomington and author of, most recently, In Praise of Profanity (Oxford University Press, 2016). Other works include Slang: The People's Poetry (Oxford, 2009) and, with Anne Curzan, the third edition of How English Works: A Linguistic Introduction (Pearson Longman, 2012). Once editor of Dictionaries: Journal of the Dictionary Society of North America, he is currently editor of the quarterly journal American Speech.

Funding information

NEH has provided $364,252 in funding for work on the Yale Editions of Samuel Johnson’s and James Boswell’s writings.

The reputation of Samuel Pepys as the author of Britain’s most celebrated diary is rather surprising. The literary reputation of Pepys in his lifetime was limited, following which the personal journal was left in obscurity for more than a century after his death. The eventual publication of the diary revealed Pepys as an exceptionally skilled recorder of the political events of his time, and also everyday life. Pepys’ record of contemporary events has become an important source for historians seeking an understanding of life in London during the mid-seventeenth century. Pepys kept the diary for nine years, as a virtually daily record that was to stretch to more than a million words, with a quality that entertains and inspires people in the current day, nearly three and a half centuries after it was written.

Samuel Pepys was born on February 23 1633, at Salisbury Court, Fleet Street, in London, the son of John Pepys, a tailor, and his wife, Margaret Kite. Within a few years, the autocratic rule of Charles I (reigned 1625-1649) sparked the English Civil War, and at the age of 15, Pepys witnessed the execution of the monarch in 1649. After attending St Paul’s School in London, Pepys moved to Magdalene College, at Cambridge University, in 1651, and left three years later with a Bachelor of Arts degree. After leaving university, Pepys worked in the household of Edward Montagu, a cousin of his father. The subsequent advancement of Pepys owed a great deal to the patronage of Edward Montagu, who would be created the first Earl of Sandwich in 1660. Edward was the great great grandfather of John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich, after whom the sandwich was named in the eighteenth century. In 1655 Pepys, aged 22, married Elizabeth St Michel, who was only 15 — Elizabeth had been born in England into a French Huguenot family. Shortly afterwards, probably in 1656, Pepys began his career as a civil servant, by taking a post as clerk to George Downing (who gave his name to Downing Street) at the Exchequer. Samuel’s marriage to Elizabeth was soon under strain, causing a separation during the late 1650s, and he was also troubled by a kidney stone, which was successfully removed in an operation of 1658. Pepys travelled abroad for the first time in 1659, sailing to the Baltic Sea, where he delivered letters from the British republican government to Montagu, who was mediating in a war between Denmark and Sweden.

Pepys started to write his diary, using shorthand, on New Year’s Day 1660, at the age of 26. The opening sentences of the diary ran as follows:

Blessed be God, at the end of the last year I was in very good health, without any sense of my old pain but upon taking of cold. I lived in Axe yard, having my wife and servant Jane, and no more in family than us three. My wife, after the absence of her terms for seven weeks, gave me hopes of her being with child, but on the last day of the year she hath them again. The condition of the State was thus. Viz. the Rump, after being disturbed by my Lord Lambert, was lately returned to sit again. The officers of the army all forced to yield. Lawson lie still in the River and Monke is with his army in Scotland. Only my Lord Lambert is not yet come in to the Parliament nor is it expected that he will, without being forced to it. The new Common Council of the City doth speak very high and hath sent to Monke their sword-bearer to acquaint him with their desires for a free and full Parliament, which is at present the desires and the hopes and expectation of all.

The combination of the personal and political remained a constant theme of Pepys’ diary. Indeed the young Pepys was soon on the fringe of historic events. In May 1660, having been found a place by Montagu, Pepys joined a naval expedition to the Netherlands with the purpose of returning Charles, son of the late king, from exile, ahead of the restoration of the monarchy. The next month saw Pepys promoted to a post in the Navy Board, based at Seething Lane in the City of London, with a salary of £350 per year. Appointment as a Justice of the Peace followed in September 1660. On April 23 1661 — Saint George’s Day — Pepys attended the coronation of Charles II, which was held at Westminster Abbey. In 1662 Pepys was appointed to a government committee which oversaw the administration of Tangier, a colony acquired as part of the dowry of Katherine of Branganza, who married Charles II on May 22 of that year, at Portsmouth. Pepys was to remain a member of this committee through to 1679.

Pepys kept a detailed account of his activities, and thoughts, in the journal — this being the word that he used. Very few days were omitted, although Pepys often wrote up entries in retrospect. His work for the navy was explained at length, as public service was combined with attendant opportunities for private enterprise, enabling Pepys to accumulate a personal fortune. Samuel’s domestic routines with Elizabeth featured in the diary, and trouble with servants was a recurring theme. Pepys obviously enjoyed socialising with family and friends, as drinking, eating, and visits to the theatre were chronicled, along with his progress in learning to sing and play musical instruments. Pepys was a womaniser, who was frequently unfaithful to Elizabeth, and recorded his sexual liaisons with a series of women in the diary. Throughout the diary Pepys wrote extensively, and repetitively, about matters such as the time he got up in the morning, his finances, the weather, and the food that he ate. Pepys regularly ended entries by noting that he ate supper and went to bed. Alongside an active life, and extrovert personality, Pepys wrote about his mind being troubled by various thoughts and worries. Pepys continually tied himself up in knots with a series of vows for virtuous behaviour, and acts of penance when he failed to live up to his ideals. It appears to me that Pepys was suffering from what is now termed Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

The young and successful Pepys often reflected upon his good fortune. Here is his diary entry for October 10 1664:

This day by the blessing of God, my wife and I have been married nine years — but my head being full of business, I did not think of it, to keep it in any extraordinary manner. But bless God for our long lives and love and health together, which the same God long continue, I wish from my very heart.

Pepys had a great curiosity about the world, and used a Latin motto (borrowed from a phrase of the Roman politician and philosopher, Cicero) which has been translated as “The Mind is the Man”. Pepys’ interest in furthering knowledge led to him being elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in February 1665. In contrast to highbrow learning, Pepys showed interest in women of low virtue. Besides affairs with several women, Pepys appeared to aspire to a relationship with Barbara Palmer, Countess of Castlemaine, a mistress of Charles II. Pepys often glimpsed “my Lady Castlemayne” in London society, and wrote in his entry for August 15 1665:

Up by 4 a-clock and walked to Greenwich, where called at Capt. Cockes and to his chamber, he being in bed — where something put my last night’s dream into my head, which I think is the best that ever was dreamed — which was that I had my Lady Castlemayne in my armes and was admitted to use all the dalliance I desired with her, and then dreamed that this could not be awake but that it was only a dream. But that since it was a dream and that I took so much real pleasure in it, what a happy thing it would be, if when we are in our graves (as Shakespeere resembles it), we could dream, and dream such dreams as this — that then we should not need to be so fearful of death as we are this plague-time.

Pepys’ reflections on the Great Plague, a tragedy estimated to have claimed the lives of as many as 100,000 people in London during 1665 and 1666, struck a much more sombre, and appropriate, note on October 16 1665:

I walked to the Tower. But Lord, how empty the streets are, and melancholy, so many poor sick people in the streets, full of sores, and so many sad stories overheard as I walk, everybody talking of this dead, and that man sick, and so many in this place, and so many in that. And they tell me that in Westminster there is never a physitian, and but one apothecary left, all being dead — but that there are great hopes of a great decrease this week: God send it.

On March 10 1666 Pepys experienced an enjoyable day. In between spells at his office in the morning and evening, Pepys spent time with three women named Elizabeth, with these being his wife, and their friends Mrs Knipp and Mrs Pierce. Lunch at the Pepys’ home was followed by a shopping trip, during which clothes were acquired by the ladies, and the group all “eat some fine cakes”. Having recounted the events of the day, Pepys reflected:

The truth is, I do indulge myself a little the more pleasure, knowing that this is the proper age of my life to do it, and out of my observation that most men that do thrive in the world do forget to take pleasure during the time that they are getting their estate but reserve that till they have got one, and then it is too late for them to enjoy it with any pleasure.

At the start of September 1666, the Great Fire of London raged for four days, and Pepys described the disaster at length in his diary. On September 4, the penultimate day of the fire, Pepys recorded the burying of important possessions in his garden as a means of protecting them from the advancing blaze — the items included “papers of my office” plus “my parmazan cheese as well as my wine”. Pepys concluded this entry:

W. Hewer [Pepys’ clerk] this day went to see how his mother did, and comes home late, but telling us how he hath been forced to remove her to Islington, her house in pye Corner being burned. So that it is got so far that way and all the Old Bayly, and was running down to Fleetestreet. And Pauls is burned, and all Cheapside. I wrote to my father this night but the post-house being burned, the letter could not go.

The Pauls to which Pepys referred was the old St Paul’s Cathedral. This cathedral had been built by the Normans to replace the Church of St Paul the Apostle, which had been wrecked by fire in 1087. The tomb of Ethelred “the Unready”, which had escaped the effects of the blaze in 1087, was lost in the fire of 1666. Two years later Pepys recorded the demolition of the ruins of St Paul’s, ahead of a planned re-building. The current St Paul’s Cathedral was constructed between 1675 and 1710. Although St Paul’s has not staged as many state occasions as Westminster Abbey, the former was the venue for the marriage of Prince Charles and Diana Spencer in 1981 — this being the first royal wedding at the site since Prince Arthur wedded Catherine of Aragon at the previous St Paul’s in 1501.

The catastrophes of plague and fire in London coincided with national crisis, as Britain endured the Second Dutch War between 1665 and 1667. With this war against the Netherlands revolving around naval battles — including an audacious Dutch raid along the River Thames in June 1667 — Pepys had an important administrative role. In both 1667 and 1668 Pepys appeared on behalf of the navy before Parliamentary committees investigating its work. Pepys recorded his actions of March 5 1668 with pride:

After the Speaker had told us the dissatisfaction of the House, and read the report of the Committee, I begin our defence most acceptably and smoothly, and continued at it without any hesitation or losse but with full scope and all my reason free about me, as if it had been at my own table, from that time till past 3 in the afternoon and so endeed without any interruption from the Speaker, but we withdrew. And there all my fellow-officers, and all the world that was within hearing, did congratulate me and cry up my speech as the best thing they ever heard, and my fellow-officers overjoyed in it.

During June 1668 Pepys took a holiday tour of southern England. This included a visit to Stonehenge on June 11, which Pepys recorded as follows:

To Stonehege, over the plain and some prodigious great hills, even to fright us. Came thither, and find them as prodigious as any tales I ever heard of them, and worth going this journey to see. God knows what their use was. They are hard to tell, but yet may be told.

The tales of Stonehenge transfix contemporary visitors, in the same way as they captured the imagination of Pepys in the seventeenth century.

In his diary entry for February 23 1669, Samuel records a rather disturbing incident, during a day out with his wife plus two of his relatives, Bab and Betty Pepys:

I now took them to Westminster Abbey and there did show them all the tombs very finely, having one with us alone (there being other company this day to see the tombs, it being Shrove Tuesday) and here we did see, by perticular favour, the body of Queen Katherine of Valois, and had her upper part of her body in my hands. And I did kiss her mouth, reflecting upon it that I did kiss a Queen, and that this was my birthday, 36 years old, that I did first kiss a Queen.

At this point, two hundred and thirty two years had passed since the death of Katherine, who was the widow of Henry V.

Pepys ceased writing the diary on May 31 1669, fearing for his eyesight. He had been experiencing pains in his eyes for five years, and these were to continue for the remainder of his life, but Pepys’ worry that he would go blind proved unfounded. More importantly, an unexpected tragedy struck later in 1669, as Elizabeth died on November 10, from the effects of a fever caught during an extended holiday with Samuel in the Netherlands, Flanders, and France. Elizabeth was just 28 at her death, and Samuel was left a widower — he never re-married.

During the next few years, Pepys continued to advance as a civil servant, and became Secretary to the Admiralty Commission in 1673. Pepys also began a new career as a politician, being MP for Castle Rising, in Norfolk, from 1673 until 1678. Pepys was briefly MP for Harwich during 1679, but in that year he fell from grace, being falsely accused of involvement in the “Popish Plot”, and imprisoned in the Tower of London for six weeks. In 1680 Pepys produced an account of Charles II’s escape after the Battle of Worcester in 1651, when he famously hid in the Boscobel Oak — with this being dictated by the king. During 1683 and 1684 Pepys was at Tangier, participating in the British abandonment of the colony, and wrote a diary of his experiences, which was to be published in 1841, but lacks the greatness of the journal from the 1660s. In 1684 Pepys was appointed Secretary for Naval Affairs, and also elected as President of the Royal Society — he was to hold the latter position for two years.

Charles II died in 1685, being succeeded by James II, his brother, and Pepys returned to Parliament, as MP for Harwich. James II’s attempts to restore Catholicism to Britain were to lead to his downfall. In 1688, twenty eight years after Charles II had returned from the Netherlands, his nephew William of Orange, a Dutchman who was married to Mary, a daughter of James II, invaded England, landing at Brixham in Devon. The arrival of William of Orange prompted James to flee to France, whereupon Parliament formally concluded that he had abdicated. William III and Mary II took the throne as joint monarchs on February 13 1689. Pepys, who had been defeated at Harwich in a General Election during January 1689, disapproved of the new regime, and resigned from his post as Naval Secretary seven days after William and Mary were appointed as monarchs. This proved to be the end of Pepys’ distinguished career in public service. In an echo of the events of 1679, Pepys was falsely suspected of Jacobite activities, being imprisoned in 1689, and again the following year. In 1690 Pepys published “Memoires Relating to the State of the Royal Navy”, a book about his administrative career.

During retirement, Pepys’ main enthusiasm was the massive expansion, and cataloguing, of his library, which grew to more than 3,000 volumes — with books being combined with manuscripts and other materials. Pepys received great assistance in the library project from his nephew, John Jackson. In his will, Pepys bequeathed the library to Jackson, with the instruction that upon the death of the latter the collection should be transferred to Magdalene College — where Pepys had been a student as a youth — to be preserved “for the benefit of posterity”. Samuel Pepys moved from London to Clapham (at that time a small town beyond the boundaries of the capital city) in 1701, and it was at Clapham that he died, on May 26 1703, aged 70.

Pepys’ diary was moved to Magdelene College in 1724, the year after the death of John Jackson. A century passed, however, before the shorthand diary was transcribed by John Smith, a student at the college. A relatively short selection from Pepys’ diary, edited by Lord Braybrooke, was published in 1825 by Henry Colburn (the man who issued Benjamin Disraeli’s debut novel, “Vivian Grey”, to a rather baffled readership the following year). Three further editions of Braybrooke’s version of the diary were to be published, each of these being slightly expanded. A new transcription of the diary by Mynors Bright appeared in six volumes, comprising about eighty per cent of the full text, between 1875 and 1879. Following the death of Bright in 1883, a further version of his transcription, edited by H B Wheatley, was published in ten volumes between 1893 and 1899. Wheatley’s version represented about ninety per cent of the diary, with most of the omissions being made in line with what was considered decent in nineteenth century Britain. The full diary was finally published as “The Diary of Samuel Pepys, a New and Complete Transcription”, edited by Robert Latham and William Matthews, running to eleven volumes, including extensive commentary, between 1970 and 1983. Matthews died in 1976 before this labour of love was completed. Latham subsequently edited “The Shorter Pepys”, a single volume condensation of the edition he had worked on with Matthews, containing about a third of the text of the diary, which was published in 1985. This was reissued in 2003 as “The Diary of Samuel Pepys: A Selection”, and provides the most accessible version of the diary.

I follow in the footsteps of Pepys as somebody who writes a regular diary, and share his interest in government administration, being a former civil servant, and current local government officer. My civil service career lasted a mere nine months, during 1996 and 1997, when I worked for the Intervention Board, an offshoot of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. The Intervention Board, which was based in Reading, and has since been converted into the Rural Payments Agency, administered the European Union’s infamous Common Agricultural Policy. I arrived a few weeks after the EU banned the export of British beef, due to the effects of BSE. With the BSE crisis dominating the organisation’s activity at the time, staff referred to the Intervention Board as the Ministry of Mad Cows.

Three hundred and twenty four years after the opening of Pepys’ journal, I started my diary on the first day of 1984. Two years later I read a commentary on Pepys’ work, in “A Book of One’s Own: People and Their Diaries” by Thomas Mallon (published 1984). This was followed in 1988 by my reading numerous passages by Pepys in “The Faber Book of Diaries”, edited by Simon Brett (published 1987). Having enjoyed these introductions to Pepys, I planned to read more of his diary, but must admit that for many years I was daunted by the length of the work. After all, the drastic edit that is Latham’s single volume edition has a text that runs to over a thousand pages. I acquired a copy of Latham’s 2003 version of Pepys’ diary four years after its appearance, and began reading it early in 2008. A few months later, I am still reading Samuel Pepys’ diary. On most days I enjoy the routine of reading a few of Pepys’ diary entries, normally late in the evening, as supper is followed by bed.

Recipe: Strawberry Tart with Snow Cream

In medieval times, the tart (case) was not meant to be eaten. Instead it was used as a vessel to transport the kitchen contents to the dining room, called a ‘coffyn’. By the late 16th century, pastry became an integral part of the dish rather than the dense pastry coffyns.

This recipe has been adapted from Robert May’s The Accomplisht Cook (c. 1660). Robert May was a cook to the aristocracy of royalist England during the 17th century. Originally the tart and cream were designed to be served as separate dishes but they work really well together in a sweet pastry case.

Ingredients for 4 people

For the pastry

150g plain flour
75g cold, unsalted butter, diced into small cubes
20g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
A little water to bind
20g melted butter

For the filling

500g fresh strawberries, washed and hulled
100ml red wine
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
⅛ tsp ground ginger
40g caster sugar
1 egg white
300ml double cream
2-3 tsp rosewater
2 tbsp icing sugar, sieved
Rosemary or mint sprigs to garnish


To make the pastry: Sift the flour into a bowl. Add the butter then rub into the flour with your finger tips. Stir in 20g caster sugar then mix in the egg yolk and enough water to bring the pastry together. Alternatively, place the flour, butter and sugar in a food processor then blitz until combined before adding the egg yolk and a little water to bind the pastry together. Cover with cling film and allow to rest in the fridge for 1 hour.

To make the strawberry and red wine sauce: Take 100g of the strawberries. Place in a food processor with the red wine. Blitz until the fruit is puréed then pass through a sieve into a small saucepan to remove the pips. Add the spices and 40g caster sugar. Bring the sauce to the boil then simmer until reduced by half. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.

To make the tart cases: Preheat the oven to 190℃. Divide the pastry into 4 rounds. Roll each piece out so that it is large enough to line a 10-11cm individual tart tin leaving a little extra overhanging the top of the tin. Prick the bases of the tart cases with a fork. Put a small square of scrunched up baking parchment or greaseproof paper into the case and fill with ceramic baking beans. Place the tart tins on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the paper and beans and brush with melted butter. Return the cases to the oven for a further 5-7 minutes. It’s crucial the pastry is thoroughly cooked at this stage as the tarts will not be cooked again. Once the tarts are cooked trim off the overhanging pastry using a sharp knife and allow the cases to cool before filling them.

To make the snow cream: Whisk the egg white until it forms stiff peaks. Place the cream, 2 tsp of rosewater and icing sugar in a bowl. Whip together until thick but floppy. Taste and add more rosewater if you like. Fold in the whisked egg white.

To assemble the tarts: Quarter the remaining strawberries and toss in the cooled strawberry and red wine sauce. Place some cream into the tart cases then spoon some of the strawberries over the top. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary or fresh mint.