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The first dictionary of the Chinese language, the Shuowen Jiezi, was written around 100 CE. According to the The Chronicles of Japan, Japanese dictionaries originated in 682 CE, although the first dictionary dealt with the deciphering of Chinese characters. The first dictionary ever written was done by the Babylonians in 6th Century B.C.The earliest dictionaries were bilingual dictionaries. These were glossaries of French, Italian or Latin words, along with definitions of the foreign words in English. An early nonalphabetical list of 8000 English words was the Elementarie created by Richard Mulcaster in 1582.The first purely English alphabetical dictionary was A Table Alphabeticall, written by English schoolteacher Robert Cawdrey in 1604.However, alphabetical ordering continued to be rare until the 18th century. Before alphabetical listings, dictionaries were organized by topic, i.e. a list of animals all together in one topic.In literary and fanciful usage, multiple dictionaries are referred to as a 'flock of dictionaries'.
As French culture has come under increasing pressure with the widespread availability of English media, the Académie has tried to prevent the anglicisation of the French language. For example, the Académie has recommended, with mixed success, that some loanwords from English (such as walkman and software) be avoided, in favour of words derived from French (baladeur and logiciel, respectively). Moreover, the Académie has worked to modernise French orthography. The body, however, has sometimes been criticised for behaving in an excessively conservative fashion. A recent controversy involved the officialisation of feminine equivalents for the names of several professions. For instance, in 1997, Lionel Jospin's government began using the feminine noun "la ministre" to refer to a female minister, following the official practice of Canada, Belgium and Switzerland and a common, though until then unofficial, practice in France. The Académie, however, insisted on the traditional use of the masculine noun, "le ministre," for a minister of either gender. Use of either form remains controversial.