This historical survey of European encyclopedias and dictionaries brings
together both encyclopaedias, such as the ‘Britannica’ or the German
‘Brockhaus,’ i.e. factual reference works, and dictionaries, such as ‘Webster’s’
or the German ‘Duden,’ i.e. linguistic reference works, as outside specialist
circles little distinction is made between information about ‘things’ and
information about words and their meanings.
From the Vocabolario della Accademia de la Crusca from 1612, via the great
French Encyclopédie up to present-day works such as Wahrig, Duden and
Wikipedia, the field of relevant works becomes increasingly tightly-knit. The
individual reference works are described in historical portraits, and their
particular lexicographical methodologies analysed.