Marina Dossena University of Bergamo “‘Dispensers of knowledge’. An initiatory investigation into nineteenth-century popular(ized) science.”
This article discusses instances of knowledge dissemination in the nineteenth century, a time when vocabulary appears to have expanded more than at any other point in the history of English, mainly on account of the discoveries, inventions and innovations that characterized those decades. My investigation will start from an overview of the most frequently quoted sources of new vocabulary in the Oxford English Dictionary. It will then focus on documents addressed to lay audiences, relying in particular on a specially-compiled corpus of articles published in dictionaries, encyclopaedias, and periodicals both in the UK and in the US, and combining quantitative and qualitative approaches. Titles, illustrations (where available), and intertextual references, i.e. the textual features that may be deemed to play a significant role in the maintenance of the readers’ interest, will be discussed.