Архитектура Аудит Военная наука Иностранные языки Медицина Металлургия Метрология
Образование Политология Производство Психология Стандартизация Технологии 

Learner's dictionaries: their characteristics and problems of their compilation.

1. Лексикология английского языка: учебник для ин-тов и фак-тов иностр. яз. / Р.З. Гинзбург [и др.]; под общ. ред. Р.З. Гинзбург. — 2-е изд., испр. и доп. — М.: Высш. школа, 1979. — С. 226—233.

2. Лещева, Л.М. Слова в английском языке. Курс лексикологии современного английского языка: учебник для студ. фак-в и отдел. английского языка (на англ. яз.) / Л.М. Лещева. — Минск: Академия управления при Президенте Республики Беларусь, 2001. — С. 150—153.

Key terms: lexicography, dictionary, linguistic dictionary, encyclopedic dictionary, thesaurus, general dictionary, restricted dictionary, explanatory dictionary, specialized dictionary.

Compulsory tasks and exercises:

1. Consider your answers to the following questions:

1. How do you estimate the role of lexicography among linguistic disciplines?

2. What are the relations between lexicography and lexicology?

3. How do different linguists understand the subject matter of lexicography?

4. What are the main problems of lexicography?

5. What lexicological problems have a direct influence on the work of a lexicographer?

6. What is the role of lexicography in language teaching and language learning?

7. What are the main types of dictionaries?

8. What information do encyclopedic dictionaries include?

9. What is the difference between linguistic and encyclopedic dictionaries?

10. By what criteria can linguistic dictionaries be classified?

11. What specialized dictionaries do you know?

12. What are the characteristic features of learner's dictionaries?

13. How is one to know what plan has been followed by the dictionary compilers in selecting the words, arranging the meanings, etc.?

14. What is the role of the preface?

15. How is the semantic structure of the lexicon reflected in dictionaries?

16. Is thematic ordering an alternative to alphabetical ordering in word books?

17. What advances, if any, have been made in modern dictionaries, especially the learner's dictionaries?

18. Why do students need guidance in the use of dictionaries?

2. Read the following text and answer the questions:

1. How do different lexicographers solve the problem of arranging the meanings of words?

2. How is one to know what plan has been followed in arranging the meanings by the dictionary he consults?

3. What does the author consider the most fruitful way to approach the meanings? How does he prove his point?

4. What information does the entry anecdote in the College Edition of Webster's New World Dictionary contain?

5. What new features are to be found in the entry anecdote from Webster's New International Dictionary, Second Edition?

6. What is of interest in the treatment of the same word by the Century Dictionary?

7. What are the peculiarities of the Oxford English Dictionary entry?

Mitford M. Mathews

Meanings and Etymologies

[...] One of the most important things a lexicographer has to do is to record the meanings of words. He has the task of arranging these meanings in the order he thinks will be of most help to those who use his work.

Different editors solve this problem of arrangement in different ways. In the prefatory part of your dictionary you will find some indication of the plan that has been followed in arranging the meanings. In the Merriam-Webster dictionaries the meanings are arranged, as far as possible, in the order in which they arose. In those dictionaries, the first meanings given are the earliest a word is known to have had, and the more modern meanings come later.

The arrangement of meanings is difficult, no matter what plan is used. Students not instructed about this aspect of dictionaries sometimes suppose that the first meaning given for a word is the most common one, but that is not always the case. The only safe course is to examine the forematter of your dictionary to see what plan has been followed.

Many of those who consult a dictionary search through the meanings, often in haste, hoping to find the one in which they are interested or one that will satisfy their immediate need. Such a method is not to be recommended. Such flutterings about leave only a meager residue of information and interest in the mind of the searcher. The most fruitful way to approach the meanings is by way of etymologies. Many times the etymology will illuminate not only a particular meaning but all the meanings a word has, and will show the way to related words and their meanings. [...]

Clinic is from a Greek word meaning a bed, and the meanings of the word and those of its derivatives and combinations stem from this significance. [...]

Sometimes the original meaning of a word is markedly different from some of its later ones. Scene started out in classical Greek meaning a tent and later a booth before which actors played and into which they retired to change their costumes. As the art of acting became more elaborate, the scene of a Greek theater became the permanent structure forming the background of the stage (cf. our expression 'to look behind the scene'). The extension of the meaning of the word has continued until it now means anything that lies open to view. The idea of a tent is not felt at all. [...]

Let us now look carefully at some dictionary entries in an effort to secure from them all the information they contain. We shall begin by looking closely at the entry anecdote in the College Edition of Webster's New World Dictionary.

an-ec-dote(an'ik-dot'), n. [Fr.; ML. anecdota; Gr. anekdota, neut. pl. of anecdotos, unpublished; an-, not + ekdotos < < ekdidonai; ek-, out + didonai, to give]. 1. pl. originally, little-known, entertaining facts of history or biography; hence, 2. a short, entertaining account of some happening, usually personal or biographical. — SYN.,see story.

This dictionary makes etymology one of its strong features and so serves exceptionally well for our purpose. The following things about this entry are of interest:

1. The entry word, printed in boldface to give it more prominence, is divided by periods into its three syllables. This form of division not only helps out with the pronunciation of a word, but it also gives assistance to one who has to divide a word at the end of a line of writing or printing. In such cases, words should be divided with respect to their syllables.

2. Then, within curves, the word is rewritten, this time in symbols that show pronunciation. A heavy accent mark ' immediately follows the syllable which receives most stress, and a lighter mark indicates the syllable getting minor stress. A syllable, here ik, which gets no stress is followed by a hyphen.

Following the indication of pronunciation comes the abbreviation of the part of speech to which the word belongs.

3. It is well-accepted dictionary procedure to place etymologies in square brackets just after the indication of the part of speech of the word involved. [...]

To show in a simpler way what it means, let us write the etymology in a much more expanded form, making no use of the abbreviations with which it is generously provided [...]. It may make this expanded version of the ety­mology easier to follow if we begin at the very end of it and proceed back to its beginning [...].

In Greek there was a verb, didonai, meaning to give. A common prefix, ek-, was often used before this verb and it then became ekdidonai to give out. From this expanded form of the verb, Greek formed an adjective, ekdotos, given out. In Greek it was customary to prefix an-to adjectives beginning with a vowel and thus reverse or negate their meanings. So the Greeks formed anekdotos, not given out.

Greek adjectives had masculine, feminine, and neuter forms. The neuter plural of anekdotos was anekdota, unpublished things, that is, things not given out. Latin, during the medieval period, borrowed anekdota in the form anecdota. This Latin term passed into French, where it was spelled anecdote. From French the word, unchanged in form, passed into English.

[...] Anyone who considers this etymology thoughtfully may well be puzzled over the fact that anecdote began its career with such an odd meaning. A fuller account of the word is needed before this puzzle can be cleared up.

4. [...] The meanings are given in the order of their ages, the oldest meaning being given first. Observe how the original meaning led on to sense 2, the one which nowadays the word usually has.

5. At the very end of the entry there is a reference to story, for a presentation of the synonyms of anecdote. Dic­tionaries perform a useful service by distinguishing between such terms as anecdote, narrative, tale, story.

Of course, the larger a dictionary is, the more infor­mation one can obtain from it. Here is the entry anecdote as it appears in the current large unabridged Webster's New International Dictionary, Second Edition.

an'ec-dote (аn'ek-dot; an'ik-), n. [Fr., fr. Gr. anekdotos not published, fr. an-not + ekdotos given out, fr. ekdidonai to give out, to publish, fr. ek-out + didonai to give. See DATE point of time] 1. pl. Literally, unpublished items; narratives of secret or private details of history; — often in book titles. Now rare.

2. A narrative, usually brief, of a separable incident or event of curious interest, told without malice and usually with intent to amuse or please, often biographical and characteristic of some notable person, esp. of his likable foibles.

Some modern anecdotes aver, he nodded in his elbow chair. Prior.

Syn. — See STORY.

an'ec-dote, v. i. To tell anecdotes. — v. t. To use as a subject for anecdotes. Both rare.

[...] Notice that the etymology here ends with a reference to the entry DATE, meaning a point of time. An inspection of the etymology given of that entry reveals that anecdote belongs to a group of words that are related because they all trace their ancestry, in whole or in part, back to the same Indo-Euripean root that is seen in the Greek verb didonai, meaning to give. Here is the list of words Webster cites as being related in the manner indicated: anecdote, condone, dado, damn, dative, datum, die, п., donate, dose, dower, edit, pardon, render, sacerdotal. [...]

One of the unique and highly valuable features of the unabridged Merriam-Webster is that it often groups words basically related because they, or parts of them, go back to a common ancestor word. No other English dictionary gives so much of this kind of information. Some of the commonest words in the language have a surprisingly large number of relatives. [...]

The next dictionary in which we shall examine the word anecdote is the Century in which the entry is as follows:

anecdote(an'ek-dot), n. [< F. anecdote, first in pl. anecdotes, M. L. anecdota, < Gr., pl., things unpublished applied by Procopius to his memoirs of Justinian, which consisted chiefly of gossip about the private life of the court; prop. neut. pl., unpublished, not given out, < Gr. an-= priv. + ekdotos, given out, verbal adj. of ekdidonai, give out, publish, < ex, out (= L. ex.: see ex-), + didonai, give, = L dare, give: see dose and date.)1. pl. Secret history; facts relating to secret or private affairs, as of governments or of individuals: often used (commonly in the form anecdota) as the title of works treating of such matters. 2. A short narrative of a particular or detached incident or occurrence of an interesting nature; a biographical incident; a single passage of private life. = Syn.

Anectote, Story. An anecdote is the relation of an interesting or amusing incident, generally of a private nature, and is always reported as true. A story may be true or fictitious, and generally has reference to a series of incidents so arranged and related as to be entertaining.

In this treatment of the word there are some things not observed before:

1. As is often done in dictionaries, the sign < is used freely in the sense of 'from'. One instance of its use is seen in the etymology above.

2. According to the etymology given here, the form which anecdote had in French was the plural, a form to be expected from the words being derived from a plural in Latin and in Greek. With this information, it is easier to understand why it was in its plural form that the word made its first appearance in English. [...]

4. The remainder of the Century entry is easily understood with the possible exception of the abbreviation "priv." for privative, a word used in grammar in connection with those prefixes which change the sense of a word from a positive to a negative one, as do un-, il-, in-, ir-, in English. (Compare such words as lawful, unlawful; legal, illegal; tolerant, intolerant; regular, irregular. [...] Greek made use of a prefix of this kind, a-, which might also appear as an-. In Greek grammar this prefix is referred to as "alpha privative".

It may appear to the beginner that by this time we have certainly found out all there is to know about anec­dote, but we have not. Here is how the entry looks in the Oxford English Dictionary.

Anecdote (æ-nekdout). [а. Fr. anecdote, or ad. its source, med. L. anecdota (see sense 1), a. Gr., anecdota things unpublished, f. an-priv. + ekdotos, published, f. ekdidonai to give out, publish: applied by Procopius to his 'Unpublished Memoirs' of the Emperor Justinian, which consisted chiefly of tales of the private life of the court; whence the application of the name to short stories or particulars.]

1. pl. Secret, private, or hitherto unpublished narratives or details of history. (At first, and now again occas. used in L form anecdota.

1676 MARVELL Mr. Smirke Wks. 1875 IV. 71 A man ... might make a pleasant story of the anecdota of that meeting. [...] 1727 SWIFT Gulliver III. viii. 230 Those who pretend to write anecdotes, or secret history. 1727-51 CHAMBERS C vol., Anecdotes, Anecdota, a term used by some authors, for the titles of Secret Histories; that is, of such as relate the secret affairs and transactions of princes; speaking with too much freedom, or too much sincerity, of the manner and conduct of persons in authority, to allow of their being made public. [...]

2. The narrative of a detached incident, or of a single event, told as being in itself interesting or striking. (At first, An item of gossip.)

1761 YORKE in Ellis Orig. Lett. 11.483 IV, 429 Monsieur Coccel will tell you all the anecdotes of London better than I can. [...] 1789 BOSWELL Lett. (1857) 311 It [life of Johnson) will certainly be ... full of literary and characteristical anecdotes (which word, by the way, Johnson always condemned, as used in the same sense that the French, and we from them, use it, as signifying particulars). [...] 1832 Ht. MARTINEAU Demerara i. 12 He told some anecdotes of Alfred's childhood. Mod. An after-dinner anecdote.


1828 DISRAELI Viv. Grey III.ii.95 A companion who knew everything, everyone, full of wit and anecdote.

3.Comb., as anecdote-book, -loving; anecdote-monger a retailer of anecdotes. [...]

1. With the information already given, it is easy to understand the etymology of this entry. It should be observed that according to it, anecdote may not have come into English from French, but directly from medieval Latin. That this source is likely is suggested by the spelling the word has in the earliest example found of its use in English. Had it come from French anecdotes, it is not easy to see why Marvel in 1676 spelled it anecdota. Of course, it may have come into English both from French and from Latin.

2. The most noteworthy feature of this entry, and of the dictionary from which it comes, is that the definitions are followed by examples of the use of the word in the senses given. These examples all follow the same pattern. First comes the date, then the author's name in small capitals, then the title of the work cited, usually, abbreviated, followed by the number of the page. The use of illustrative quotations is a marked feature of historical dic­tionaries. They are given generously in the OED, there being about 1,827,306 of them in that great work.

It would be a mistake, however, to conclude that the earliest example given in the OED for a word in a particular sense is really the first time the word occurs in print. The OED is a remarkable dictionary, but it would be much more so if those who collected material for it had been able to find the very first printed uses of all the words with which the dictionary deals. It is extremely useful to have such dates as are given, but they should not be misinterpreted.

3. Under 3 in the above entry there are given combinations into which anecdote has entered. The first two of these, anecdote-book and anecdote-loving, are illustrated by only one example each. Neither of the expressions appears to have been much used. The same may be said of anecdote-monger, which is treated slightly differently because two examples of its use were available. [...]

3. Pay attention to some widely used abbreviations:

ACD American College Dictionary

AHD American Heritage Dictionary

ALD (OALD) Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary of Current English

CED Collins English Dictionary

Chambers Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

COD Concise Oxford Dictionary

GID Reader's Digest Great Illustrated Dictionary

LASDE Longman Active Study Dictionary of English

LDAE Longman Dictionary of American English

LDEL Longman Dictionary of the English Language

LDOCE Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English

LNUD Longman New Universal Dictionary

OAD Oxford American Dictionary

OED Oxford English Dictionary; New English Dictionary

OPD Oxford Paperback Dictionary

POD Pocket Oxford Dictionary

SOD The Shorter Oxford Dictionary on Historical Principles

W3 Webster's Third New International Dictionary

W8 Webster's Eighth New Collegiate Dictionary

W9 Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary

WNWD Webster's New World Dictionary

4. State the type of the following dictionaries:

1. Англо-русский словарь: около 30000 слов / редкол.: В.Д. Аракин [и др.]. — М.: Госуд. изд-во иностр. и нац. словарей, 1952. — 964 с.

2. Маккей, А. Словарь американских идиом: 8000 единиц / А. Маккей. — СПб.: Изд-во Лань, 1997. — 464 с.

3. Мюллер, В.К. Англо-русский словарь / В.К. Мюллер, С. Боянус. — М.: ЛОКИД-ПРЕСС; Минск: Соврем. слово, 2005. — 687 с.

4. Хокинс, Дж.М. The Oxford Dictionary of the English Language = Оксфордский толковый словарь английского языка: 40000 слов / Дж.М. Хокинс. — М.: АСТ: Астрель, 2002. — 828 с.

5. Dictionary of Idioms. — Glasgow: Omnia Books LTD, 2001.

5. Characterize the dictionaries (ex. 3) according to the model:

1. the type of the dictionary;

2. the size of the dictionary;

3. the structure of the dictionary;

4. the nature of the word list;

5. the arrangement of the entries;

6. the arrangement of derivatives;

7. the arrangement of compounds;

8. the arrangement of phrasal verbs;

9. the arrangement of idioms;

10. the arrangement of the meanings of the word;

11. the information supplied about the word:

· pronunciation (International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) or phonetic respelling);

· part of speech notation,

· etymology;

· subject field labels (astronomy, botany, chemistry, etc.);

· style labels (formal, informal, etc.);

· usage labels and pragmatics (taboo, rude, derogatory, etc.);

· temporal labels (archaic, obsolete, etc.);

· territorial variants (American, British, etc.);

12. the language in which the information about the words is given;

13. the prospective user.

6. Compare the dictionary entries of English-English (Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, Collins English Dictionary, Oxford English Dictionary, etc.) and English-Russian dictionaries (Мюллер, В.К. Англо-русский словарь, etc.). Say whether you see the difference between the dictionaries and what it consists in.

Additional exercises:

1. Characterize the given dictionaries according to the model (Compulsory tasks and exercises, ex. 5):

1. Алехина, А.И. Краткий русско-английский и англо-русский фразеологический словарь / А.И. Алехина. — Минск: Изд-во БГУ, 1980. — 400 с.

2. Англо-русский синонимический словарь / редкол.: Ю.Д. Апресян [и др.]. — М.: Русский язык, 1999. — 544 с.

3. Англо-русский словарь сокращений / сост. Г.К. Левчук. — Минск: Бел. Энцыкл., 2001. — 526 с.

4. Малаховский, Л.В. Словарь английских омонимов и омоформ / Л.В. Малаховский. — М.: Русский язык, 1995. — 624 с.

5. Новый большой англо-русский словарь: в 3 т. / редкол.: Ю.Д. Апресян [и др.]. — М.: Русский язык, 1999.

6. Collins Сobuild Advanced Dictionary: New Edition. − Harper Collins, 2006. − 345 p.

7. Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English. — Longman Group Ltd., 2001. — 1668 p.

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