Tech UPTechnologyDo you know when the first dictionary appeared?

Do you know when the first dictionary appeared?

On November 8, 1519 Hernán Cortés along with 300 men met for the first time with the ruler of the Mexica, Moctezuma, in the capital of the empire, Tenochtitlan. After an exchange of gifts and dinner of turkey, fruit and corn tamales, they began the conversation. Moctezuma spoke in Nahuatl, and Cortés listened to the translation from the mouths of his interpreters : Malintzin, better known as Malinche, a Mexica noblewoman who translated into Yucatecan Maya and Gerónimo de Aguilar, who, having been a prisoner of the Maya for 8 years, translated from Mayan to Spanish.

Cortés was lucky, because without Geronimo’s assistance it would have been impossible for him to come to an understanding with the Mexica. Moreover, the first Mayan-Spanish dictionary appeared in 157 7 and was compiled by Franciscan missionaries during the evangelization process: it is the Motul dictionary, so named because its anonymous author (or authors) lived in that city in Yucatan.

The first dictionaries

The bilingual dictionary was the first type of dictionary that ever existed. The oldest are cuneiform tablets from the Akkadian empire with bilingual Sumerian-Akkadian lists, dated 2300 BC and discovered at Ebla. The Urra=hubullu glossary consists of 24 tablets where the words are arranged by topic . For example, tablet 4 contains naval terms and tablet 17 contains plants. We would have to wait for the fourth century BC to see the first dictionary dedicated to defining words: it was written by Filetas de Cos. A student of the language of Homer, his dictionary -now disappeared- was a miscellany made haphazardly that explained the meaning of rare dialectal expressions, technical terms and archaisms used in the Iliad and the Odyssey, and which even then were mostly unintelligible. The oldest Homeric dictionary that has come down to us was written by Apollonius the Sophist around the 1st century entitled, at the time, the Homeric Lexicon .

In Asia, from the fourth century different dictionaries began to appear: the Sanskrit one, Amarakośa , was compiled by the poet and lexicographer Amarasimha, and is written in verse -to make it easy to memorize- and consists of around 10,000 words . In Japan, the oldest dictionary of Chinese characters is Tenrei Banshō Meigi from 830. To do this, its author, the Buddhist monk Kūkai, used the Yupian Chinese dictionary from the year 543. Yupian is one of the most significant works in the history of Chinese written because it was the first to appear after the Shouwen Jiezi appeared five centuries ago, marking a revolution in lexicography. Not only was he the first to analyze the structure of Chinese characters and explain their origin, but he organized it by radicals, that is, each one of the 214 elements into which Chinese characters can be broken down. In turn, the radicals can be classified and ordered according to their number of strokes.

Several 15th-century copies and a 9th-century page of the Frahang-ī Pahlavīg (Pahlavi dictionary), an anonymous dictionary of unknown composition date, containing Aramaic logograms together with their Middle Persian translation and phonetic transcription have survived from the Middle East. in pazend alphabet.

The first Arabic dictionaries were published between the 8th and 14th centuries , arranging the words either by the last syllable (in rhyming order), by the alphabetical order of the radicals, or according to the alphabetical order of the first letter, which is the system we use in modern European language dictionaries.

In medieval Europe it is normal that the first bilingual dictionaries that we find are the glossaries of equivalences of Latin with the vernacular languages of each site. The one who made this task easier was the Italian Dominican Johannes Balbus who wrote the Summa Grammaticalis or the Catholicon in 1287, a great grammatical work on Latin that contained, among others, spelling, etymology and grammar treatises, as well as a dictionary of 670,000 words. ; all this destined to better understand the Bible. Its importance was such that it was one of the first books to be printed with Gutenberg’s new invention. This work served as the basis for several bilingual dictionaries. Another Catholicon appeared later, by Jehan Lagadeuc, a Breton priest of the diocese of Tréguier in the 15th century. This work with 6,000 entries is the first Breton dictionary, the first French dictionary and the first trilingual dictionary (Breton-French-Latin) in Europe. On the other hand , the first monolingual dictionary written in Europe was that of Sebastián de Covarrubias , Treasure of the Castilian or Spanish language, published in 1611 in Madrid.

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