Talk:Noah Webster

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Webster's spellings[edit]

Was Webster really trying to make spellings more phonetic, or was he trying to make them more classic, i.e., closer to their etymons? We spell "color", "splendor", etc. the way Julius Caesar spelled them; the British do not. We write "analyze"; they write "analyse", etc.; our version is closer to the original Greek. -- Mike Hardy

American English Spellings[edit]

I think the article has the "American English" spellings wrong -- unless Webster's "American English" was the exact opposite of what's used in the U.S. today. The article currently says:

so his dictionary introduced American English spellings like "colour" instead of "color", "waggon" instead of "wagon", "centre" instead of "center", and "honour" instead of "honor".

I think that all of those words should be reversed. However, on the off-chance that what's written is correct, I didn't change anything just because it seems wrong. Can someone more knowledgeable make the call? –Kadin2048 00:08, 24 October 2007 (UTC)

The Real McCoy (er, Webster)[edit]

Webster's Online Dictionary - the Rosetta Edition is not the real "Webster's". The real Webster's has Merriam in the name. I am replacing the link.
Brooklyn Nellie (Nricardo) 06:06, Mar 24, 2004 (UTC)

Someone should really include Webster's contributions to the Constitution (his influence in the separation of church and state) and his contributions to education. The dictionary was hardly the pinacle of his life's work.

Merger?[edit]

Today I decided to work on extensive revisions to Webster's Dictionary and in poking around found a stub at Webster's New International Dictionary, Second Edition and a longer article at Webster's Third New International Dictionary. It seems to me it would be best to consolidate the second and third material at Webster's Dictionary, because it is the familiar name and it would put the history of the work, which has appeared under several names in one spot; then put in redirects under the other names. I've integrated the material at the present "Third" article with my own contributions at Webster's Dictionary. Would anyone with comments please contact me on my talk page? PedanticallySpeaking 16:40, Oct 27, 2004 (UTC)

Justification for Rollback[edit]

I reverted the changes User:Paton made. First, he said Webster signed the United States Declaration of Independence, but he is not listed in the signers section of that article. Second, the main body of the article dealt with the loss of trademark protection, citing the opinion of an unnamed relative of Webster. While it certainly seems wrong under modern understanding of trademark law that the Merriam Company should have lost the trademark protection, our opinions do not matter. The courts decided against the trademark decades ago and what's done is done. See the article Webster's Dictionary for more on the trademark issue. PedanticallySpeaking 15:45, Dec 30, 2004 (UTC)


Anti-Federalist?[edit]

The assertion that Webster was an outspoken anti-federalist seems a bit vague if not wrong. If provided the right context it could make sense, but it contradicts most of what I'm reading about him.

For insteance, the American Minerva was a Federalist newspaper and was subsidized by Alexander Hamilton himself, according to a textbook I have. I think the assertion needs to be clear.

Why glamour?[edit]

Webster seemed to have attempted creation of phonetic spellings by dropping 'u' from words like favour, flavour, honour, etc. Glamour bucks the trend by retaining the 'u'. Are there any more such exceptions? Sudar 05:51, 21 March 2006 (UTC)

I believe it's because its taken directly from the Scots language and not Latin like the other words you listed.
Yes, in honor &c. Webster simply restored the original Latin spellings; glamour (also formerly spelt glamer) is in origin a Scots corruption of grammar in the occult sense of the word (cf. gramarye and grimoire). It most probably should be spelt glammar but the current spelling is too well established... Tkinias 09:54, 12 July 2006 (UTC)

I have seen it spelled both ways in American english; although "Glamor" may be a recent development. Travis Cleveland 23:10, 28 May 2007 (UTC)

I think Webster wanted to remove the "u" between "o" and "r" in plurisyllabic words because the "u" wasn't really pronounced. Yet I did talk about how I didn't think it really was a good idea. 66.191.115.61 02:12, 25 September 2007 (UTC)Cbsteffen

Music error[edit]

I removed the mention of music non musick because it's simply not true. The OED has citations of the spelling <music> at least as far back as 1673, long before Webster. Not to mention that <music> is not exactly unique to American English! Tkinias 09:39, 12 July 2006

Painting of Noah Webster[edit]

Here's a painting I found, in case you want to use it. -- Chuck Marean 03:55, 4 March 2007 (UTC)
Image:Painting of Noah Webster .jpg

Neutral? No.[edit]

This article is sooo anti European... Something needs to be done.

"American nationalism was superior to Europe because American values were superior, he explained." I think this sentence could be worded differently. It is jarring not to mention it sounds like a narration. It is probably what adds to the claim that this article has a POV. I don't think it serves any purpose right before the quotation that follows after it.--Roonerspism 03:59, 30 May 2007 (UTC)

Missing stuff[edit]

Just stumbled across this article out of interest - it seems to have lost a deal of its references and categories (visible from the history). Perhaps someone knowledgeable about the subject might restore them? --Joopercoopers 13:02, 30 May 2007 (UTC)

Alternate Spellings for Words in American English[edit]

I didn't really think Webster's ideas of dropping the "u" between "o" and "r," replacing "s" with "c" or "z," or flipping "e" and "r" around at the end of words in order to recognize American English were any good. You don't need to spell words differently to distinguish a certain form of language. -- 66.191.115.61 Cbsteffen 01:31, 12 July 2007 (UTC)

Troll.

He isn't a troll, he is just stating an opinion. I tend to agree somewhat - I'm American and try to use all the "traditional" spellings as much as possible. Chris16447 (talk) 23:11, 20 December 2007 (UTC)

  • "traditional" is a misnomer. There isn't necessarily a 'traditional' spelling; these things were in flux. In truth, a lot of spelling variations (as well as vocabulary variations) stem from the fact that many of them that were codified into American English were slightly more archaic than those codified into British English. Secondly, the idea that he necessarily 'dropped' the letters may be somewhat questionable; considering the flux thing, a some of the spellings favored in American English reflect the original Latin (honor, for example) where British English does not (and vice versa). Apologies if this is somewhat incoherent; I shouldn't be browsing wikipedia at 1:00am! Novium (talk) 08:03, 5 May 2008

Date of death[edit]

In this edit, one of the things changed was Noah Webster's date of death. No explanation was provided in the edit summary. Is there any source for this change? The new date is still in the article. —Daniel Šebesta {chat | contribs} 15:02, 6 September 2007 (UTC)

Unaccepted Spelling changes[edit]

My Middle School History Teacher had told us that Webster went so far as to try to make the "American Language" spelled perfectly Phonetic. He used an example of the word fish being spelled like "fesch". Can someone confirm or discredit this fact for me. 71.176.134.94 (talk) 17:30, 10 January 2008 (UTC)

Anecdote[edit]

I read of an anecdote that depicted Webster caught by his wife in a dalliance with the maid. His wife says "I'm surprised," to which Noah answers "You, my dear, are 'astonished,' I am 'surprised.'" I would assume this has no basis in fact, but I have no idea when this anecdote dates from. I believe I found it in James Kilpatrick, who claimed it was much older than he was. --Scottandrewhutchins (talk) 20:00, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

Financial State[edit]

The descriptions of Webster's finances seems inconsistent. At one point it states that the royalties were sufficient to support his other pursuits but later it states that he had to mortgage his house and was plagued by debt for the rest of his life. Which is it? Is there something that I am not reading correctly? 216.157.211.214 (talk) 04:08, 21 December 2008 (UTC)


I think somebody is joking: "It was the most popular American book of its time; by 1861, it was selling a million copies per year, and its royalty of less than one cent per copy was enough to sustain Webster in his other endeavors." He had died in 1843. Åkebråke (talk) 21:25, 19 December 2009 (UTC)

Any Relation to Black Dan?[edit]

I am wondering: Were Noah and Daniel Webster related? (Did they even know each other?) I haven't been able to find out, but: if they were, someone ought to add the exact relationship to both Websters' articles… Asteriks (talk) 21:12, 16 April 2009 (UTC)

I don't know why but...[edit]

Reading about Webster makes me sad. Wait I do know; he did so much for american education and, well, modern educators basically ruined his work. That's just tragic.

67.148.120.105 (talk) 11:33, 10 December 2009 (UTC)stardingo747

More Secular?[edit]

In the first paragraph we have "...and made elementary education more secular and less religious". I've marked this as needing a citation for one since this claim isn't supported anywhere (yet) in the article. However, I'm raising this discussion since I discovered a quote by Webster, taken from the preface of his 1828 dictionary which reads:

"In my view, the Christian religion is the most important and one of the first things in which all children, under a free government ought to be instructed...No truth is more evident to my mind than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people."

Unless there is other evidence out there, I'm afraid that the statement in this article which claims that Webster was a secular and anti-religious influence on American education is in danger of being false. So if anybody has any evidence out there, please bring it to our attention. Otherwise I propose removing that statement.

--Davidkazuhiro (talk) 20:51, 10 July 2010 (UTC)

Also, the only "cited" source is from 1979 (very recent). Wheras, the Blue-Back Speller is *full* of religious questions and references, often using Jesus in grammar examples, with explicit references to Christ, morality, and religion in the appendix.

Examples: Q. What rule have we to direct us[?]

  A.  God's word contained in the Bible has furnished all necessary

rules to direct our conduct.

Q. What has Christ said respecting the virtue of humility?

  A.  He has said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for their's is the

kingdom of heaven." Poorness of spirit is humility; and this humble temper prepares a man for heaven, where all is peace and love.

Q. Has not religion a tendency to fill the mind with gloom?

  A.  True religion never has this effect.  Superstition and false

notions of God often make men gloomy; but true rational piety and religion have the contrary effect. They fill the man with joy

3. An adjective; as, my friend is worthy to be trusted.

  Rule XIV.  A participle, with a preposition preceding it, answers

to the Latin general, and may govern an objective case.

               E X A M P L E S
By avoiding evil,         |   By shewing him
  by doing good.          |   in observing them,
  by seeking peace; and   |   for esteeming us,
  by pursuing it.         |   by punishing them.
  Rule XV.  A nominative case, joined with a participle, often

stands independent of the sentence. This is called the case absolute.

  Examples.  The sun being risen, it will be warm.  They all

consenting, the vote was passed. "Jesus conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place."

And so forth. http://www.merrycoz.org/books/spelling/SPELLER.HTM — Preceding unsigned comment added by 24.18.200.63 (talk) 02:39, 2 March 2012 (UTC)

and someone had the balls to put "webster's speller was entirely secular - there was no mention of god or the bible" in the article. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 182.209.195.63 (talk) 13:14, 14 August 2013 (UTC)

Webster became religious late in life, and was quite secular in the period before about 1810. The text is based on leading scholarship. Rjensen (talk) 16:07, 14 August 2013 (UTC)
It would seem that primary sources are better support for a claim on either side of this issue, especially when the concern is with the actual text of the primary source (though it is not argued that the scholarship cited is generally accepted). An 1809 edition of the Speller shows Webster having already introduced heavy religious content. I was unable to find a ready copy of an earlier version online. I would be very interested in seeing earlier editions, especially the first edition of the Speller, if anyone is aware of where they might be viewed. Find the 1809 (clearly marked "Revised") edition here: https://archive.org/details/americanspelling00webs A quick search of the text for the word "God" will reveal the religious content. Blendenzo (talk) 03:33, 4 November 2013 (UTC)

Telegraph[edit]

At the time of Websters life, the most used form of instant long distance communication was the telegraph system. Telegraph used morse code, which is not particularly fast or efficient. Telegraph operators frequently dropped letters from words that were still understandable without the missing letter such as "Color" instead of "Colour". This was done to cut the time taken to send the message and also reduced the cost. So although Webster canonized these spellings in a dictionary, these concatenated word spellings were in widespread use for a long time before. 62.49.92.201 (talk) 12:30, 16 September 2010 (UTC)

all false--Webster was dead when the first telegraph message was sent.Rjensen (talk) 05:31, 21 September 2010 (UTC)

Worldwide View[edit]

He is loved by Americans but often hated by people in Britain, Austrlaia, New Zealand, Canada and France. British people have quoted "he ruined their language", Australians, New Zealanders and Canadians are upset that the American influence has taught their children to spell incorrectly, many have also said the changes were unnecessary. The French are often offended by the changing of words of French origin (e.g. centre, aubergine etc.). Most people who learn English learn British English, with the exception of Mexico. Christians are also angry about what he did in schools.

Remember the United States are not the only country in the world, and the rest of the world's view should be expressed. —Preceding unsigned comment added by FerntreeGully (talkcontribs) 12:49, 23 September 2010 (UTC)

<3 --Syniq (talk) 08:12, 1 May 2011 (UTC)
the rest of the world should speak up. --actually they DID speak up. In the 1890s the Toronto Globe said Webster's International Dictionary, 1st ed was "the best book of its kind in the English language"; The minister of education in South Australia said it was "authorized and in constant use...no better work"; the St James Gazette of London recommended it to "everybody"; the Argus in Melbourne said it was "one of the most generally useful works of reference to be found." The rector of the U of Ottawa called it "a very complete, accurate and excellent dictionary." Murray (the historian of the OED) says Webster's unabridged edition of 1864, "had acquired an international fame. It was held to be superior to every other dictionary and taken as the leading authority on the meaning of words, not only in America and England, but also throughout the Far East." [K. M. Elisabeth Murray, Caught in the Web of Words: James Murray and the Oxford English Dictionary (1977), p 133] Rjensen (talk) 09:04, 1 May 2011 (UTC)

Noah Webster statue fingers[edit]

i believe that it should be noted that the fingers on one of the hands of the statue dedicated to Webster in west hartford is missing its fingers.

Source: my friends amputated them... 100% true story and i will upload a picture when i go to the center next time. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 98.217.29.237 (talk) 01:16, 15 June 2011 (UTC)

Publication Dates[edit]

The chronology in the Publication section seems to be incorrect. It says that "In 1807 Webster began compiling an expanded and fully comprehensive dictionary, An American Dictionary of the English Language; it took twenty-seven years to complete... Webster completed his dictionary during his year abroad in 1825". 1807 plus 27 years would be 1834, not 1825. The paragraph then says "Webster published his dictionary in 1828." Did it really take three years to have it published from when it was completed (remember Webster had already published one dictionary and was therefore familiar with the business, had contacts, etc.)? The Wikipedia entry for "Webster's Dictionary" states that it was published in 1828. The "twenty-seven years" seems to be inaccurate, and the 1825 reference seems questionable, but not being sure, I have not changed anything.

Also, this section states that "In 1840, the second edition was published in two volumes." The Wikipedia entry for "Webster's Dictionary" states that the second edition was published in 1841. 68.255.99.25 (talk) 05:27, 23 June 2011 (UTC)

Jean-Jacques Rousseau[edit]

I edited it to read "Genevan-French philosopher" instead of just "French philosopher" and some as**ole reverted it back because "he wrote in French"-- well no sh*t, Sherlock-- Genevans speak French, but that doesn't change the fact it was an independent city-state at that time and not part of France, and Wikipedia's article on JJR describes him as "Genevan", so my edit is accurate. Leaving this here in case Einstein decides to revert it again. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 64.223.85.120 (talk) 19:12, 15 July 2012 (UTC)

DD/MM/YYYY to MM/DD/YYYY due to Webster?[edit]

Was Webster's primer the source of the American switch from DD/MM/YYYY to MM/DD/YYYY date formats? It would be helpful to include that information in the article if it was. -75.57.5.160 (talk) 00:28, 18 February 2014 (UTC)