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The Place of WordsThe Académie Française and Its Dictionary during an Age of Revolution$
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Michael P. Fitzsimmons

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190644536

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190644536.001.0001

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The Académie and Its Dictionaries under the Old Regime

The Académie and Its Dictionaries under the Old Regime

(p.25) 2 The Académie and Its Dictionaries under the Old Regime
The Place of Words

Michael P. Fitzsimmons

Oxford University Press

Because of criticism of its dictionary, the Académie decided to revise the work rather than begin work on a grammar. It adhered to this pattern throughout the eighteenth century and produced new editions in 1718, 1740, and 1762. The dictionary became the definitive instrument of the French language and enacted changes in it, especially in new spellings introduced in the fourth edition in 1762. Early in the eighteenth century, after he published a pamphlet that criticized Louis XIV, the Académie expelled the abbé de Saint-Pierre, who had wanted the body to assume a larger public policy role. By the latter part of the century, however, its membership included many philosophes. In 1784 Antoine de Rivarol won the prize of the Berlin Academy for his essay on the universality of the French language, heightening the importance of the dictionary, but the fifth edition had not appeared when the French Revolution began in 1789.

Keywords:   Académie Française, abbé de Saint-Pierre, French language, philosophes, Antoine de Rivarol

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