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Eighteenth-Century English Phonology Database

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Name Life Dates Gender Class
Buchanan, James fl. 1753-1773 male unknown
Place of Birth Occupation Occupation Description
unknown_Sc, unknown_Sc, Scotland Education lexicographer, teacher of a boarding school, grammarian, elocutionist


'Master of the Boarding-School at Loughbury-House, opposite Stockwell, in Surrey' (Michael 1987:410).
Source: Lexicon Grammaticorum (1996: 138-139), by Robin D. Smith.
'Buchanan, James, 18th c.; grammarian and lexicographer. Such few personal details as can be gleaned from his works include that he was probably Scottish, in 1757 had a school near Camberwell, London, and by 1773 had left a widow.'
'Buchanan's principal significance is the role that he played as part of 18th-century desire to fix a standard for the language. Buchanan himself was not a spelling reformer, but extended the more general interest in spelling to a concern for regulating pronunciation. (1757a) may be said to be the first English pronouncing dictionary in that it indicates vowel length and syllable stress; providing occasional phonetic re-spelling alongside the correctly spelled word. [...] In his 'Plan' (1770:16) Buchanan promotes the idea of an English grammar school especially for the middle classes, on the grounds that his audience needed English before Latin, but his eclectic grammatical works are representative of 18th-century grammar mores. The anonymous 'British grammar' (1762), which Kennedy has definitively proved to be by Buchanan, can be shown to have been influenced by J. Harris (1751) in recognizing the concept of language universals, but the main influence is that of J. Wallis (1653) and J. Greenwood (1711), whose terminology and classifications Buchanan consistently follows. The influence of R. Lowth does not become apparent before 'A regular English syntax' (1767), but Lowth's precepts are not accepted without demur; (1767, 1762) offer constructed examples of 'false syntax' on the lines of A. Fisher (1750), while (1767: xi-xii) notes inelegance in 'Socrates & Plato were wise; they were the most eminent philosophers of Greece' (Lowth 1762:105).
Buchanan's grammatical concerns are perhaps typified by 'The first six books of Paradise Lost', an original text with, at the foot of the page, the supposed ellipses supplied and inversions righted so as to form a prose version 'more easily understood'. The principle of combining transposition, supplying ellipses and parsing as facilitating understanding, introduced to English by Collyer (1735:122) had also appeared in (1753:xv-xvi) and (1770:127).'
Cf. also Koerner (2008).

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