Gower Bibliography

Gower's Contribution to the English Vocabulary

Yonekura, Hiroshi. "Gower's Contribution to the English Vocabulary." In Kotoba no kozo to rekishi. Structural and Historical Studies on Languages: Essays Presented to Dr. Kazuo Araki on the Occasion of his Seventieth Birthday. Ed. Nakano, Hirozo and Araki, Kazuo. Tokyo: Eichosa, 1991, pp. 503-24.


Yonekura has systematically checked every word in Pickles and Dawson's Concordance to Gower's CA against both MED and OED, and he offers several long lists presenting his results. He finds 265 words for which Gower appears as the first citation in the OED, of which 141 are still in current use, plus 26 other words "which only Gower first used in English," which evidently means "for which Gower's is the only recorded use." He finds an additional 459 words for which Gower provides the first use under a particular definition in the OED; 263 of these senses are still in current use. He evidently made rather less use of the MED: he cites eight words listed in the MED that OED omits (all beginning with A, C or D), and four words for which OED gives a citation earlier than the MED's (all beginning with A). A bit of bibliographical history might have been appropriate here: the anomalies he finds early in the alphabet (many of which involve collocations that may or may not be compounds, according to an editor's choice) are no doubt due to the appearance of Macaulay's edition of CA while the OED was already in progress. Yonekura also fails to note anywhere that the MED itself is still incomplete. There are a few other quibbles that one could make: the first that comes to mind is that Gower's "basketh" (CA 3.315) is not neglected by both OED and MED as Yonekura claims, but appears is OED s.v. "bask" (Yonekura evidently looked for a non-existent "baskle"). [PN. Copyright The John Gower Society. JGN 15.1

Item Type:Book Section
Subjects:Language and Word Studies

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