8

What is the size of attested (or accepted) Latin vocabulary by period (Old, Classical, Late etc.)?

I am specifically interested in the Classical period, but I have added the other ones to the question.

  • 1
    Are you interested in attested words (i.e. dictionary entries, including hapax legomena) or words that were in common usage? – brianpck Apr 22 '16 at 13:07
  • @brianpck: Both numbers are interesting. It will be good to have them separated from each other. – jk - Reinstate Monica Apr 22 '16 at 13:09
  • 2
    And how would you define a unit of such calculation? A word form? A lexeme? Anything else? – Alex B. Apr 22 '16 at 14:41
  • 1
    @AlexB. I'd say "lemma". I'm not interested in counts of all the inflected forms of a verb. – jk - Reinstate Monica Apr 22 '16 at 14:51
  • 2
    OUP lists over 40,000 headwords in the OLD, while you're free to manually count them in Lewis and Short. – C. M. Weimer Apr 22 '16 at 16:41
1
| ------------------------------------------------------------------------- |
| Dictionary     | Reported number of headwords or entries | Period covered |
| ------------------------------------------------------------------------- |
| Oxford Latin   | 40,000                                  | Classical      |
| ------------------------------------------------------------------------- |
| Lewis & Short  | 55,000                                  | Classical plus |
|                |                                         | some later     |
| ------------------------------------------------------------------------- |
| DMLBS          | 56,000                                  | 6th-16th cent. |
| ------------------------------------------------------------------------- |
| Ducange        | 90,000                                  | Includes       | 
|                |                                         | medieval       |
| ------------------------------------------------------------------------- |

(DMLBS is the Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources. This only covers Medieval Latin in Britain or by British authors.)

My source for the size of Du Cange is https://sites01.lsu.edu/faculty/jgellri/sample-page/reference-2/dictionaries/latin-and-greek-dictionaries/

The Oxford Latin Dictionary stops at roughly AD 200, although it has a few words from a bit beyond that. It aims to be reasonably comprehensive in its coverage of Classical Latin but it doesn't usually include things that are purely pre-Classical or post-Classical.

By comparing the size of the OLD and Ducange (and if the figure for Ducange doesn't include too many crossreferences or alternate spellings), it would appear that the size of the Latin lexis may have more than doubled in medieval times.

Thesaurus Linguae Latinae, when complete, will cover Latin from the earliest times up to AD 600. I haven't been able to find a headword count for it, and of course, we don't know because it's not complete, but it ought to be possible to get a count so far, and also perhaps to count the headwords in the completed volumes, compare those with the numbers of headwords that start with the same letters in other dictionaries, and perhaps extrapolate.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.