Johnson's Dictionary ielts reading

Johnson’s Dictionary IELTS Reading Passage

Johnson’s Dictionary IELTS Reading Passage with Answers

Reading Passage 1

Johnson’s Dictionary

For the century before Johnson’s Dictionary was published in 1775, there had been concern about the state of the English language. There was no standard way of speaking or writing and no agreement as to the best way of bringing some order to the chaos of English spelling. Dr. Johnson provided the solution.

There had, of course, been dictionaries in the past, the first of these being a little book of some 120 pages, compiled by a certain Robert Cawdray, published in 1604 under the title, A Table Alphabeticall’of hard usuall English words. Like the various dictionaries that came after it during the seventeenth century, Cawdray’s tended to concentrate on ‘scholarly’ words; one function of the dictionary was to enable its student to convey an impression of fine learning. ielts x p r e s s

Beyond the practical need to make order out of chaos, the rise of dictionaries is associated with the rise of the English middle class, who were anxious to define and circumscribe the various worlds to conquer – lexical as well as social and commercial. It is highly appropriate that Dr Samuel Johnson, the very model of a eighteenth-century literary man, as famous in his own time as in ours, should have published his Dictionary at the very beginning of the heyday of the middle class.

Johnson was a poet and critic who raised common sense to the heights of genius. His approach to the problems that had worried writers throughout the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries was intensely practical. Up until his time, the task of producing a dictionary on such a large scale had seemed impossible without the establishment of an academy to make decisions about night and wrong usage. Johnson decided he did not need an academy to settle arguments about language: he would write a dictionary himself; and he would do it single-handed. Johnson signed the contract for the Dictionary with the bookseller Robert Dosley at a breakfast held at the Golden Anchor Inn near Holborn Bar on 18 June He was to be paid £1,575 in instalments, and from this he took money to rent 17 Gough Square, in which he set up his ‘dictionary workshop’.

James Boswell, his biographer, described the garret where Johnson worked as ‘fitted up like a counting house’ with a long desk running down the middle at which the copying clerks would work standing up.

Johnson himself was stationed on a rickety chair at an ‘old crazy deal table surrounded by a chaos of borrowed books. He was also helped by six assistants, two of whom died whilst the Dictionary was still in preparation. ielts xpress

The work was immense; filling about eighty large notebooks (and without a library to hand). Johnson wrote the definitions of over 40,000 words, and illustrated their many meanings with some | 14.000 quotations drawn from English writing on every subject, from the Elizabethans to his own time. He did not expect to achieve complete originality. Working to a deadline, he had to draw on the best of all previous dictionaries, and to make his work one of heroic synthesis. In fact, it was very much more. Unlike his predecessors, Johnson treated English very practically, as a living language, with many different shades of meaning. He adopted his definitions on the principle of English common law according to precedent. After its publication, his Dictionary was not seriously rivalled for over a century.

After many vicissitudes the Dictionary was finally published on 15 April 1775. It was instantly recognised as a landmark throughout Europe. ‘This very noble work, wrote the leading Italian lexicographer,’ will be a perpetual monument of Fame to the Author, an Honour to his own Country in particular, and a general Benefit to the republic of Letters throughout Europe. The fact that Johnson had taken on the Academies of Europe and matched them (everyone knew that forty French academics had taken forty years to produce the first French national dictionary) was cause for much English celebration.

Johnson had worked for nine years, with little assistance of the learned, and without any patronage of the great; not in the soft obscurities of retirement, or under the shelter of academic bowers, but amidst inconvenience and distraction, in sickness and in sorrow’, For all its faults and eccentricities his two-volume work is a masterpiece and a landmark, in his own words, ‘setting the orthography, displaying the analogy, regulating the structures, and ascertaining the significations of English words’. It is the cornerstone of Standard English, an achievement which, in James Boswell’s words,’conferred stability on the language of his country. The Dictionary, together with his other writing, made Johnson famous and so well esteemed that his friends were able to prevail upon King George III to offer him a pension. From then on, he was to become the Johnson of folklore. ieltsxpress.com

Questions 1-3
Choose THREE letters A-H.
Write your answers in boxes I-3 on your answer sheet.
NB Your answers may be given in any order.

Which THREE of the following statements are true of Johnson’s Dictionary?

A. It avoided all scholarly words.
B. It was the only English dictionary in general use for 200 years.
C. It was famous because of the large number of people involved.
D. It focused mainly on language from contemporary texts.
E. There was a time limit for its completion.
F. It ignored work done by previous dictionary writers.
G. It took into account subtleties of meaning.
H. Its definitions were famous for their originality.

Questions 4-7
Complete the summary.
Choose NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the passage for each answer.
Write your answers in boxes 4-7 on your answer sheet.

In 1764 Dr Johnson accepted the contract to produce a dictionary. Having rented a garret, he took on a number of 4___________ who stood at a long central desk. Johnson did not have a 5 ___________ but eventually produced definitions of in excess of 40,000 words written down in 80 large notebooks On publication, the Dictionary was immediately hailed in many European countries as a landmark. According to his biographer, James Boswell, Johnson’s principal achievement was to bring 6 ___________ to the English language. As a reward for his hard work, he was granted a 7 ___________  by the king. IELTS XPRESS

Questions 8-13
Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 1?
In boxes 8-13 on your answer sheet, write

TRUE if the statement agrees with the information
FALSE if the statement contradicts the information
NOT GIVEN if there is no information on this

8. The growing importance of the middle classes led to an increased demand for dictionaries.
9. Johnson has become more well known since his death.
10. Johnson had been planning to write a dictionary for several years.
11. Johnson set up an academy to help with the writing of his Dictionary.
12. Johnson only received paynment for his Dictionary on its completion.
13. Not all of the assistants survived to see the publication of the Dictionary.


Johnson’s Dictionary IELTS Reading Answers

1. D, E, G IN ANY ORDER

2. D, E, G IN ANY ORDER

3. D, E, G IN ANY ORDER

4. clerks / copying clerks

5. library

6. stability

7. pension

8. TRUE

9. FALSE

10. NOT GIVEN

11. FALSE

12. FALSE

13. TRUE


Johnson’s Dictionary IELTS Reading Answers Explanation

Answer 1: D- It focused mainly on language from contemporary texts.

Supporting Sentence: Johnson wrote the definitions of over 40,000 words and illustrated their many meanings with some I 14.000 quotations drawn from English writing on every subject, from the Elizabethans to his own time.
Keywords: Johnson, quotation, English, Elizabethans, own time
Keyword Location: Paragraph 6, lines 2-4
Explanation: “contemporary texts” in question is true as it is given as “to his own time”


Answer 2: E- There was a time limit for its completion.

Supporting Sentence: Working to a deadline, he had to draw on the best of all previous dictionaries and to make his work one of heroic synthesis.
Keywords: deadline, dictionaries, work
Keyword Location: Paragraph 6, lines 5-6
Explanation: “deadline” in paragraph means “time limit”


Answer 3: G- It took into account subtleties of meaning.

Supporting Sentence: Unlike his predecessors. Johnson treated English very practically, as a living language, with many different shades of meaning.
Keywords: language, shades of meaning
Keyword Location: Paragraph 6, lines 6-7
Explanation: “subtleties of meaning” gives the meaning “different shades of meanings”


Answer 4: Copying clerks

Supporting Sentence: James Boswell, his biographer described the garret where Johnson worked as ‘fitted up like a counting house’ with a long desk running down the middle at which the copying clerks would work standing up.
Keywords: Johnson, copying clerks
Keyword Location: Paragraph 5, lines 2-3
Explanation: it is mentioned in the paragraph, “copying clerks” as standing and doing work


Answer 5: library

Supporting Sentence: filling about eighty large notebooks (and without a library to hand). Johnson wrote the definitions of over 40,000 words
Keywords: notebooks, library, Johnson, words
Keyword Location: Paragraph 6, lines 1-2
Explanation: ‘without’ in the para points towards ‘library’. Hence library should be the correct answer.


Answer 6: stability

Supporting Sentence: in James Boswell’s words, ‘conferred stability on the language of his country’.
Keywords: James Boswell, stability, language
Keyword Location: Paragraph 8, lines 7
Explanation: “to bring’ means ‘confer’ as per the sentence, so the answer is ‘stability’ in the statement.


Answer 7: pension

Supporting Sentence: The Dictionary, together with his other writing, made Johnson famous and so well esteemed that his friends were able to prevail upon King George III to offer him a pension.
Keywords: pension, dictionary, Johnson, friends, King George III
Keyword Location: Paragraph 9, lines 1-2
Explanation: “able to prevail upon King…” indicates, the King granted him “pension”. This is the reason pension is correct.


8. The growing importance of the middle classes led to an increased demand for dictionaries.

Answer : TRUE
Supporting Sentence: Beyond the practical need to make order out of chaos, the rise of dictionaries is associated with the rise of the English middle class, who were anxious to define and circumscribe the various worlds to conquer – lexical as well as social and commercial.
Keywords: dictionary, heyday, middle class
Keyword Location: Paragraph 3, line 1
Explanation: “English middle class anxious”. So, the answer is TRUE


9. Johnson has become more well known since his death.

Answer : FALSE
Supporting Sentence: The Dictionary, together with his other writing, made Johnson famous and so well esteemed that his friends were able to prevail upon King George III to offer him a pension. From then on, he was to become the Johnson of folklore.
Keywords: Dictionary, Johnson, King Geroge III, folklore
Keyword Location: Paragraph 9, lines 1-3
Explanation: Johnson became since King George III granted a pension, not since his death. So, the answer is FALSE. Johnson of folklore means became famous.


10. Johnson had been planning to write a dictionary for several years.

Answer : NOT GIVEN


11. Johnson set up an academy to help with the writing of his Dictionary.

Answer : FALSE
Supporting Sentence: Johnson decided he did not need an academy to settle arguments about language; he would write a dictionary himself, and he would do it single-handed.
Keywords: Johnson, academy, arguments, language, dictionary, single-handed
Keyword Location: Paragraph 4, lines 4-7
Explanation: He did not need an academy, but he did the work single-handedly, so the answer is FALSE


12. Johnson only received payment for his Dictionary on its completion.

Answer : FALSE
Supporting Sentence: He was to be paid £ 1.575 in instalments, and from this, he took money to rent 17 Gough Square, in which he set up his ‘dictionary workshop’.
Keywords: instalment, money, dictionary workshop
Keyword Location: Paragraph 4, lines 8-10
Explanation: instalment indicates “payment on its completion,” FALSE


13. Not all of the assistants survived to see the publication of the Dictionary.

Answer : TRUE
Supporting Sentence: He was also helped by six assistants, two of whom died whilst the Dictionary was still in preparation.
Keywords: assistants, died, dictionary
Keyword Location: Paragraph 5, lines 4-5
Explanation: As two of the assistant died whilst the dictionary was still in preparation – the answer is – TRUE


Also Check:   Doctors Rights and Drinks IELTS Reading Passage

Oh hi there! It’s nice to meet you.

Sign up to receive awesome content in your inbox, every week.

We promise not to spam you or share your Data. 🙂

close
Johnson's Dictionary IELTS Reading Passage

Oh Hi there!
It’s nice to meet you.

Sign up to receive awesome content in your inbox, every week.

We promise not to Spam or Share your Data. 🙂

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Share via
Scroll to Top
Send this to a friend