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The man who taught us how to spell
on 8 December 2012
Dr Johnson did more than any other individual to standardise the English language in the form in which we now use it - spelling, derivations, grammar, idiom and all, and he did it through his Dictionary. The Preface is readable, not too long and illustrates very well the principles on which he worked. His own opinions come through strongly, but he recognised clearly that language is ultimately in the hands not of lexicographers but of those who use it, and ultimately even the most pedantic of scholars have to bow to common usage once established. It's a good and useful read for anyone interested in the history of the English language, which even in Johnson's day had acquired a global reach though not yet the predominance it would attain (replacing French) by 1900.