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Basic problems of dictionary-compiling

Lexicography, the science, of dictionary-compiling, is closely connected with lexicology, both dealing with the same problems — the form, meaning, usage and origin of vocabulary units — and making use of each other’s achievements.

Some basic problems of dictionary-compiling:

1) the selection of lexical units for inclusion,

2) their arrangement,

3) the setting of the entries,

4) the selection and arrangement (grouping) of word-meanings,

5) the definition of meanings,

6) illustrative material,

7) supplementary material.


1) The selection of lexical units for inclusion.

It is necessary to decide: a) what types of lexical units will be chosen for inclusion; b) the number of items; c) what to select and what to leave out in the dictionary; d) which form of the language, spoken or written or both, the dictionary is to reflect; e) whether the dictionary should contain obsolete units, technical terms, dialectisms, colloquialisms, and so forth.

The choice depends upon the type to which the dictionary will belong, the aim the compilers pursue, the prospective user of the dictionary, its size, the linguistic conceptions of the dictionary-makers and some other considerations.

2) Arrangement of entries.

There are two modes of presentation of entries: the alphabeticalorder and the cluster-type(arranged in nests, based on some principle – words of the same root).

3) The setting of the entries.

Since different types of dictionaries differ in their aim, in the information they provide, in their size, etc., they of necessity differ in the structure and content of the entry.

The most complicated type of entry is that found in general explanatory dictionaries of the synchronic type (the entry usually presents the following data: accepted spelling and pronunciation; grammatical characteristics including the indication of the part of speech of each entry word, whether nouns are countable or uncountable, the transitivity and intransitivity of verbs and irregular grammatical forms; definitions of meanings; modern currency; illustrative examples; derivatives; phraseology; etymology; sometimes also synonyms and antonyms.

4) The selection and arrangement (grouping) of word-meanings.

The number of meanings a word is given and their choice in this or that dictionary depend, mainly, on two factors: 1) on what aim the compilers set themselves and 2) what decisions they make concerning the extent to which obsolete, archaic, dialectal or highly specialised meanings should be recorded, how the problem of polysemy and homonymy is solved, how cases of conversion are treated, how the segmentation of different meanings of a polysemantic word is made, etc.

There are at least three different ways in which the word meanings are arranged: a) in the sequence of their historical development (called historical order), b) in conformity with frequency of use that is with the most common meaning first (empirical or actual order), c) in their logical connection (logical order).

5) The definition of meanings.

Meanings of words may be defined in different ways: 1) by means of linguistic definitions that are only concerned with words as speech material, 2) by means of encyclopaedic definitions that are concerned with things for which the words are names (nouns, proper nouns and terms), 3) be means of synonymous words and expressions (verbs, adjectives), 4) by means of cross-references (derivatives, abbreviations, variant forms). The choice depends on the nature of the word (the part of speech, the aim and size of the dictionary).

6)Illustrative material.

It depends on the type of the dictionary and on the aim the compliers set themselves.

Date: 2016-01-14; view: 8238

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