"Popular readings of Johnson as a dictionary-maker often see him as a writer who both laments and attempts to control the state of the language. Lynda Mugglestone looks at the range of Johnson's writings on, and the complexity of his thinking about, language and lexicography. She shows how these reveal him probing problems not just of meaning and use but what he considered the related issues of control, obedience, and justice, as well as the difficulties of power when exerted over the 'sea of words'. She examines his attitudes to language change, loan words, spelling, history, and authority, describing, too, the evolution of his ideas about the nature, purpose, and methods of lexicography, and shows how these reflect his own and others' thinking about politics, culture, and society. The book offers a careful reassessment of Johnson's prescriptive practice, examining in detail his commitment to evidence, and the uses to which this might be put."--Dust cover flap.