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webster

Noah Webster, familiar to most Americans as the writer of the first American dictionary, worked as a schoolteacher in the late eighteenth century. As he taught, he came to realize that there were some major problems with the way English was taught in the American schools. The United States of America had recently declared its independence from England, and was struggling to form its own identity. The schools were still using textbooks from England, and these books varied in consistency when it came to spelling, pronunciation and grammar (Short Summary Website). As a teacher, and as a patriot, Webster felt a need for an American textbook. He wanted consistency and he wanted it to reflect that there was an American dialect of English that was distinctive from that of England (Bett Website). He had also noted that the social classes of England were often distinguished by differences in dialect, and he wished the United States to have a single, distinctive dialect that would rise above differences in class (Bett Website). As a result of these goals, in 1783 he published A Grammatical Institute of the English Language. This textbook, later republished in 1788 as The American Spelling Book, standardized spelling and grammar for the American dialect. The preface to the speller states his objective for the speller as“To diffuse a uniformity and purity of language in America, to destroy the provincial differences that originate in the trifling differences of dialect and produce reciprocal ridicule, to promote the interests of literature and the harmony of the United States…” (Blue-Backed Speller Website).The new speller, nicknamed the “blue-backed speller” for the blue paper that lined the cover, officially recognized the difference between American and British dialects of English (Webster, Noah Encarta). Although it did not cover a great deal, it laid the foundation for his later dictionaries. It incl...

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