Characteristic features of English dictionaries
1) The pursuit of lexicography is divided into two related disciplines:
Practical lexicography is the art or craft of compiling, writing and editing dictionaries.
A person devoted to lexicography is called a lexicographer.
General lexicography focuses on the design, compilation, use and evaluation of general dictionaries, i.e. dictionaries that provide a description of the language in general use. Such a dictionary is usually called a general dictionary or LGP dictionary. Specialized lexicography focuses on the design, compilation, use and evaluation of specialized dictionaries, i.e. dictionaries that are devoted to a (relatively restricted) set of linguistic and factual elements of one or more specialist subject fields, e.g. legal lexicography. Such a dictionary is usually called a specialized dictionary or LSP dictionary.
There is some disagreement on the definition of lexicology, as distinct from lexicography. Some use "lexicology" as a synonym for theoretical lexicography; others use it to mean a branch of linguistics pertaining to the inventory of words in a particular language.
It is now widely accepted that lexicography is a scholarly discipline in its own right and not a sub-branch of linguistics, as the object of study in lexicography is the dictionary.
2) Main parameters of a dictionary.
Practical lexicographic work involves several activities, and it is important to note that the compilation of really crafted dictionaries require careful consideration of all or some of the following aspects:
Profiling the intended users (i.e. linguistic and non-linguistic competences) and identifying their needs
Defining the communicative and cognitive functions of the dictionary
Selecting and organizing the components of the dictionary
Choosing the appropriate structures for presenting the data in the dictionary (i.e. frame structure, distribution structure, macro-structure, micro-structure and cross-reference structure)
Selecting words and affixes for lemmatization as entries
Selecting collocations, phrases and examples
Specifying pronunciations of words
Labeling definitions and pronunciations for register and dialect, where appropriate
Selecting equivalents in bi- and polylingual dictionaries
Translating collocations, phrases and examples in bi- and polylingual dictionaries
Theoretical lexicography concerns the same aspects, but lead to the development of principles that can improve the quality of future dictionaries, for instance in terms of access to data and lexicographical information costs.
In linguistics a lemma (plural lemmas or lemmata) is the canonical form of a lexeme.
Specifically, in lexicography, "lemma" is a synonym for headword, q.v.
In morphology, a lemma is the canonical form of a lexeme. Lexeme, in this context, refers to the set of all the forms that have the same meaning, and lemma refers to the particular form that is chosen by convention to represent the lexeme.
Basic types of English dictionaries and their characteristic features
- Bilingual dictionary
- Monolingual learner's dictionary
Specialized dictionary (Picture dictionary, Multi-field_dictionary, Single-field dictionary, Sub-field dictionary, Maximizing dictionary, Minimizing dictionary, LSP dictionary)
Glossary (defining dictionary, Core glossary, of scientific and other special terms)
Dictionaries of abbreviations, antonyms, borrowings, new words, proverbs, synonyms, surnames, toponyms etc.
Etymological, frequency, phonetical, rhyming and thesaurus type of dictionaries
Dictionaries of American English, dialect and slang dictionaries
A bilingual dictionary is a dictionary that is usually used to translate words or phrases from one language to another. Bilingual dictionaries are sometimes used to understand texts read, often, in a foreign language. Bilingual dictionaries can be unidirectional, meaning that they list the meanings of words of one language in another, or can be bidirectional, allowing translation to and from both languages. Bidirectional bilingual dictionaries usually consist of two sections, each listing words and phrases of one language alphabetically with their translation. Other features sometimes present in bilingual dictionaries are definitions, lists of phrases, usage and style guides, verb tables and maps.
The most important challenge for practical and theoretical lexicographers is to define the function(s) of a bilingual dictionary. A bilingual dictionary may have as its function to help users translate texts form one language into another, or its function may be to help users understand foreign-language texts. In such situations users will require the dictionary to contain different types of data that have been specifically selected for the function in question. If the function is understanding foreign-language texts the dictionary will contain foreign-language entry words and native-language definitions, which have been written so that they can be understood by the intended user groups. If the dictionary is intended to help translate texts, it will need to include not only equivalents but also collocations and phrases translated into the relevant target language.
Perhaps the most difficult aspect of creating a bilingual dictionary is the fact that lexemes or words cover more than one area of meaning, but these multiple meanings don't correspond to a single word in the target language. For example, in English, a ticket can get you into the movie theater, or can be given to you by a police officer for exceeding the posted speed limit. In Spanish these two meanings are not covered by one word as in English, but rather there are several options: boleto or entrada and infracción.
Monolingual learner's dictionaries are written for learners of a foreign language. Most such dictionaries are aimed at advanced learners, but in English there are ones for elementary and intermediate users too. These tools of language education are based on the supposition that learners must move from a bilingual dictionary to a monolingual one as they advance in their study of the target language, but that general purpose dictionaries compiled for native speakers are too complex and indeed confusing for their needs. Learners' (or learner's) dictionaries include a lot of information on grammar, usage, common errors, false friends, collocations, and so on, which a native speaker knows intuitively. Conversely, these dictionaries leave out etymology and quotations, while they include example sentences.
The first English monolingual learner's dictionary was The Idiomatic and Syntactic Dictionary of English by A. S. Hornby published in 1942. This was republished as A Learner's Dictionary of Current English by Oxford University Press in 1948. The second edition came in 1963, the third in 1974, both in several impressions. The dictionary was a huge financial success. This unparalleled success was, of course, the result of the boom in the English language teaching industry worldwide. It is now in its seventh edition as the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary.
The Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English was published in 1978. The editors, led by Paul Proctor, introduced several innovations. The most striking was the use of a restricted defining vocabulary, which has now become a standard feature of learners' dictionaries. Almost a decade later another new player, the Collins Cobuild English Dictionary, came out, a significant milestone in corpus-based lexicography.
1995 was the 'year of the dictionaries': Oxford published its fifth edition, Longman its third, Cobuild its second, and yet another player appeared, the Cambridge International Dictionary of English. 2002 saw the entrance of yet another competitor: the Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners.
The current editions in 2006 are the seventh for OUP, the fourth for Longman, the fourth for Collins Cobuild, and the second for CUP. In May 2007, Macmillan released its new edition of advanced learner's dictionary.
Both bilingual and monolingual dictionaries can be general and special. General dictionaries represent the vocabulary as a whole with a degree of completeness depending on the scope and bulk of the book in question (e.g. Oxford Dictionary consisting of 13 volumes). Some general dictionaries may have very specific aims and still be considered general due to their coverage.
A specialized dictionary is a dictionary that covers a relatively restricted set of phenomena. The typical type of specialized dictionary is that which in English is often referred to as a technical dictionary and in German as a Fachwörterbuch.
Specialized dictionaries can be classified in various ways. A dictionary that covers more than one subject field is called a multi-field dictionary; one that covers one subject field is called a single-field dictionary; and one that covers a limited part of a subject field is called a sub-field dictionary.
A specialized dictionary that attempts to cover as much of the relevant terminology as possible is called a maximizing dictionary, whereas one that attempts to cover only a limited part of the relevant terminology is called a minimizing dictionary.
Specialized dictionaries can have various functions, i.e. they can help users in different types of situation. Monolingual dictionaries can help users understand and produce texts, whereas bilingual dictionaries can help users understand texts, translate texts and produce texts.
A glossary is a list of terms in a particular domain of knowledge with the definitions for those terms. Traditionally, a glossary appears at the end of a book and includes terms within that book which are either newly introduced or at least uncommon.
A bilingual glossary is a list of terms in one language which are defined in a second language or glossed by synonyms (or at least near-synonyms) in another language.
In a more general sense, a glossary contains explanations of concepts relevant to a certain field of study or action. In this sense, the term is contemporaneously related to ontology.
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