Noah Webster &
the English language
Noah Webster, Jr., was a textbook pioneer and English language spelling reformer. This prolific author was born in October of 1758 (died in 1843) in West Hartford, Connecticut. In 1774 he entered Yale University and studied law. He graduated four years later and joined the bar at Hartford in the year 1781.
But his claim to fame was not as an attorney.
During 1782 – 1783 while teaching school he came to believe that text books about the English language and grammar could be improved upon. Two years later he published “Grammatical Institute of the English language.” The three-part book featured spelling and grammar and was a reader.
Its popularity soared in America and for many years was a primary source of income. By 1861, more than a million copies had been sold. His “An American Dictionary of the English Language” contained 12000 words and 40000 definitions.
He has been credited with stabilizing the spelling of English words. Those entered into his dictionary more phonetic. His efforts helped to standardize the spelling of words.
Webster also translated the Bible in 1833. His modern English “Webster’s Version” is very popular in the online as well as electronic formats.
Not only did he serve as editor of The Federalist Party newspaper in 1973 he also founded New York’s first daily newspaper, American Minerva. Throughout his life, his career continued to weave in and out of print publications and law. He started American Magazine in 1788 and then later returned to practice law. Other publishing credits included a semi-weekly paper Herald.
Also, in 1791 he helped to found by the Connecticut Society for the Abolition of Slavery and by 1798 he was a member of the Connecticut House of Representatives as well as being a county judge.