Lecture by Nicola McLelland (University of Nottingham) in the lecture series "Practice of Digital Humanities"

"Adelung's English-German Dictionary (1783, 1796): Deception and More"

Vortrag McLelland




University of Trier, TCDH
4:00 PM – 6:00 PM
DM Building, Room DM 343
Online via Zoom: https://uni-trier.zoom-x.de/j/62977543823?pwd=ZUdqV0h6YWVZWG9FRDd2Vk8rRE5mZz09


The lecture series "Practice of Digital Humanities" is part of the Master's program in 'Digital Humanities.' It is open to all interested individuals from various fields of study and outside the university.

The English-German dictionary by Johann Christoph Adelung, produced on behalf of the publisher Benjamin Schwickert (Adelung 1783, 1796), deserves recognition. After all, it is titled after the famous English dictionary by Samuel Johnson ("drawn from the larger English work of Mr. Samuel Johnson after its fourth edition"), and the author is none other than Johnson, the author of a groundbreaking monolingual dictionary, in this case for the German language (Adelung 1774-1786; 2nd edition 1793-1801).

However, Adelung's bilingual dictionary has received little attention until now. In this lecture, I will introduce the dictionary and its accomplishments. I will also draw attention to the significant differences between the two volumes of the work, which make it highly unlikely that the second volume is authored by Adelung. Furthermore, it is no longer based directly on Johnson's dictionary but on another recently published English-German dictionary. Nevertheless, the analysis of the first volume highlights Adelung's careful and, in some cases, innovative work, where he consulted not only Johnson's dictionary but also earlier English-German dictionaries and his own dictionary of High German. Additionally, I will demonstrate that Adelung's experiences in creating the bilingual dictionary influenced the revision of his German dictionary. Specifically, this pertains to the treatment of pronunciation and the use of metalinguistic terms.


Adelung, J. C. (1774-1786). Versuch eines vollständigen grammatisch-kritischen Wörterbuches der Hochdeutschen Mundart. Leipzig, Breitkopf.

Adelung, J. C. (1783 (A-J), 1796 (K-Z)). Neues grammatisch-kritisches Wörterbuch der englischen Sprache für die Deutschen vornemlich aus dem größern englischen Werke des Hr. Samuel Johnson nach dessen vierten Ausgabe gezogen und mit vielen Wörtern, Bedeutungen und Beyspielen vermehrt. Leipzig: im Schwickertschen Verlage. Bd. 1 (1783 A-J); Bd. 2 (1796 K-Z.

Adelung, J. C. (1793-1801). Grammatisch-kritisches Wörterbuch der hochdeutschen Mundart : mit beständiger Vergleichung der übrigen Mundarten, besonders aber der oberdeutschen. Leipzig: bey Johann Gottlob Immanuel Breitkopf und Comp.

Ebers, J. (1793, 1794). Vollständiges Wörterbuch der englischen Sprache für die Deutschen. Nach den neuesten und besten Hülfsmitteln mit richtig bezeichneter Aussprache eines jeden Wortes bearbeitet von Johannes Ebers. Leipzig: bey Johann Gottlob Immanuel Breitkopf, Sohn und Compagnie. 1793 (A-J), 1794 (K-Z).

Johnson, S. (1755). A dictionary of the English language: in which the words are deduced from their originals, and illustrated in their different significations by examples from the best writers. To which are prefixed, a history of the language, and an English grammar. By Samuel Johnson, A.M. In two volumes. London, printed by W. Strahan [etc.]. 4. Ausgabe 1773 London: Strahan [et al.]

Keywords: Research and Teaching