Designing the space of linguistic knowledge : a typographic analysis of sixteenth-century dictionaries
Faculty of Arts. History
Documentation and information
Library trends. - Urbana, Ill., 1952, currens
, p. 325-346
University of Antwerp
Scrutinizing the ways in which early printed reference works were designed is a way of bringing typography and book history into the domain of library and information science. The core subject of this discipline is the concept of user-oriented organization of knowledge; it has a close connection to information-seeking behavior and retrieval. By studying the typographic arrangement of knowledge in early printed reference works, one can approach the history of the storage, organization, and retrieval of scientific information. The article discusses the typographic "architecture" of the dictionaries published by the Antwerp printer Christophe Plantin and, more specifically, the three dictionaries of the Dutch language compiled by Plantin's learned proofreader Cornelis Kiliaan (ca. 1530-1607). Kiliaan was one of the first authors to introduce etymology and comparative linguistics into his dictionaries. By analyzing the typographic macrostructures and microstructures of his works, it is possible to discover the lines along which they developed-in the words of Paul Valery-into machines a savoir. The article also compares Plantin's dictionaries with the international benchmark for lexicographic publishing in the Renaissance world, viz, the translation dictionaries compiled and printed by the Parisian publisher Robert Estienne.