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Language: Trilingual in English, Latin, and Greek
John Ray (1627-1705), the supreme British naturalist of the 17th century, was a many-sided scholar who, in addition to his influential theological, philological, botanical and zoological works, produced in 1675 a Dictionariolum trilingue in English, Latin and Greek. The utility of Ray’s little three-language dictionary led to the issue of eight editions between 1675 and 1736. They were literally worn out of existence by constant handling. Only six copies of the first edition, now reproduced in facsimile, are known to have survived.
This vocabulary lists under 32 subject headings, the names of birds, mammals, fish and insects, herbs, trees and shrubs, ailments, diseases, clothes, food and drink, domestic utensils, agricultural, carpentry and horticultural tools, rooms of houses and much else which Ray thought it useful to include. It reveals how little the English vernacular names of plants and animals have changed during the last four centuries and how many of their Latin equivalents became incorporated and established in modern scientific botanical and zoological nomenclature by Linnaeus and others, as generic names or specific epithets, in the 18th century.
Medical men, social, military, naval and agricultural historians, architects, theologians and mineralogists, as well as naturalists and latinists, may all find something of interest here.
The introduction by W. T. Stearn provides a short account of Ray’s career, a commentary on the Dictionariolum, primarily as a natural history vocabulary, and G. Keynes’ bibliography of the editions.
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