Le Glossaire Nautique
by Augustin Jal

Auguste or Augustin Jal was born in Lyon on 12 April 12, 1795. Intended for a military career, he entered in 1811 as an officer pupil in Brest on the Tourville training ship, but never navigated.
His only military experience was his participation in the defense of Paris in 1815. Removed in non-activity in 1817 for subversive remarks, he turned to journalism and art criticism. He published in particular in La Revue des Deux Mondes.
As correspondent of the Constitutionnel, he was present in 1830 at the taking of Algiers.

Joining in July 1831 the historical section of the Marine, he became official historiographer of the Marine, then in December 1852, Conservateur des Archives de la Marine. He will keep this last station for ten years until his retirement, in November 1862.

In 1840, he published L'Archéologie Navale, and he is considered as the father of this discipline. To carry it out, he travelled for six months, from October 1834 to February 1835, mainly in Italy but also in the South of France, while collecting handwritten, files and visits of museums. Curiously, the work is limited to written sources and the material artefacts are taken as simple evidence of bibliographical theories.

During this voyage in Italy, Jal also collected information for the realization of his Glossaire nautique. This material was supplemented by another voyage of six months in 1841 up to the Black Sea.
The glossaire aimed to exhaustiveness, including the vocabulary of the sailors of all the countries, in all the languages, and from antiquity to his time. He also collected oral testimonials and traditions. He only devoted six years to this pharaonic project: the Glossaire nautique was published in 1848.

He died in Vernon (Eure) on April 1, 1873.

The Glossaire contains 1,600 pages of nautical terms of all origins and all languages. It's still an invaluable tool, the equivalent od Du Cange for the medievists.
Since 1966 the CNRS and the Commission Internationale d'Histoire Maritime work on a revised edition. For now, this new revised edition has reached the letter M. No more giant erudites able to produce thousands of pages yearly.

Source: fr.wikipedia.org

The preface in plain text is available here: www.chass.utoronto.ca

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