Johnson's Dictionary - A Changing Language

Here Johnson discusses the ways in which languages change over time. However much the lexicographer may want to fix or 'embalm' his language, new words, phrases and pronunciations are constantly appearing, whether brought from abroad by merchants and travellers, extracted from the workrooms of geometricians and physicians, or found in the minds of poets.

Johnson writes: 'When we see men grow old and die at a certain time one after another...we laugh at the elixir that promises to prolong life to a thousand years; and with equal justice may the lexicographer be derided, who being able to produce no example of a nation that has preserved their words and phrases from mutability, shall imagine that his dictionary can embalm his language, and secure it from corruption and decay.'

Taken from: Dictionary of the English Language
Author / Creator: Johnson, Samuel
Publisher: J. & P. Knapton, London
Date: 1755
Copyright: By permission of the British Library Board
Shelfmark: 680.k.12,13