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date: 26 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

When treating a lexical form with different senses, a lexicographer must decide whether to separate some of these into a different dictionary entry. Splitting senses into different entries with identical headwords creates homonyms. The traditional distinction between homonymy and polysemy revolves around relatedness: the senses of a polyseme are related, whereas those of homonyms are not. That polysemy and homonymy exist is a matter of consensus among theoretical linguists. However, for the lexicographer, when to create homonymous lexical entries is by no means obvious. In addition to theoretical complexities, how homonymy is represented (and even whether it is represented at all) is a decision that impacts on the macrostructure of a dictionary. Such decisions must take into account dictionary function and the needs of its target audience. This chapter reviews how homonymy is represented in thirty-three monolingual English-language dictionaries that vary with respect to target audience, size, and range.

Keywords: homonymy, polysemy, general-purpose dictionaries, special-purpose dictionaries, learners' dictionaries, children's dictionaries, relatedness

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