Antedating of "Bibliography"

Geoffrey Nunberg nunberg at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Sat Jan 24 02:33:21 UTC 2004

This is another one of those historical shape-shifters, isn't it? In
the 17th & 18th c's "library" was sometimes used in the modern sense
of 'bibliography', as the OED notes. (Roger Chartier has a very good
discussion of these words in L'Ordre des Livres.)

In French and Italian, I've seen 'bibliographie' and 'bibliografia'
used in direct opposition to 'epigraphie/epigrafia' -- that is, to
mean writing in books, as opposed to writing on walls. The historian
Armando Petrucci makes the distinction this way in his book la
Scrittura, and I think it's adopted in the English translation from
U. Chicago Press, which was called Public Lettering. I've never seen
the word used this way in non-translated English, and the OED doesn't
mention it, but you'd figure someone would have used the word like
this somewhere along the way. Is there anything in the OED files?


>---------------------- Information from the mail header
>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>Poster:       Fred Shapiro <fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU>
>Subject:      Antedating of "Bibliography"
>bibliography (OED, 2., 1814)
>1756 Abel Boyer _Dictionnaire royal, francois-anglois et
>anglois-francois, tire des meilleurs auteurs qui ont ecrit dans ces deux
>langues. Nouvelle edition, revue, corrigee, & augmentee
>considerablement_ 71 (Eighteenth Century Collections Online_ 71
>BIBLIOGRAPHIE ... _Bibliography_, the knowledge of the ancient way of
>writings, and _manuscripts_.
>Fred Shapiro
>Fred R. Shapiro                             Editor
>Associate Librarian for Collections and     YALE DICTIONARY OF QUOTATIONS
>   Access and Lecturer in Legal Research     Yale University Press,
>Yale Law School                             forthcoming
>e-mail: fred.shapiro at     

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