Robert Estienne, lexicographer

In 1531, Robert Estienne began to publish a series of dictionaries, including the Latinae linguae Thesaurus (1531, 1536, 1543), the Dictionarium latinogallicum (1538, 1546, 1552) and the Dictionnaire francoislatin (1539, 1549). These works, which he tirelessly revised and corrected, were mainly designed to facilitate access to the Bible. They also helped to establish the proper usage and transcription of both Latin and French. The Dictionnaire francois latin was the first lexicon with headwords in French followed by their Latin equivalents, and with definitions in French.

It was the "Garamond" model that became the typographic standard.

Estienne's publications also stimulated discussion of spelling and grammar, with an eye to establishing "certain rules as much for the understanding of words as for the correct writing of them." He did most of the work himself and called on a number of scholars to complete it. This undertaking was inseparable from his desire to have the sacred texts read by as many people as possible. His dictionaries were published in abridged version for younger readers – the Dictionariolum puerorum latinogallicum and his Mots françois rangez selon l’ordre des lettres, were revised several times and remained in print throughout the 16th and 17th centuries.

Typography played a role in this educational effort. In the same way that Estienne "invented" the paragraph in order to mark out Bible verses, his dictionaries used roman and italic type to differentiate between languages. He used his own characters for composing texts, and their high calibre set the standard for the quality of the works. From the very start of modern lexicography, it was the "Garamond" model that became the typographic standard.

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