Niels O. Schiller and Rinus G. Verdonschot
This chapter describes how speakers access words from the mental lexicon. Lexical access is a crucial component in the process of transforming thoughts into speech. Some theories consider lexical access to be strictly serial and discrete, while others view this process as being cascading or even interactive, i.e. the different sub-levels influence each other. We discuss some of the evidence in favour and against these viewpoints, and also present arguments regarding the ongoing debate on how words are selected for production. Another important issue concerns the access to morphologically complex words such as derived and inflected words, as well as compounds. Are these accessed as whole entities from the mental lexicon or are the parts assembled online? This chapter tries to provide an answer to that question as well.
Pauliina Saarinen and Jennifer Hay
This chapter concerns factors influencing the order in which derivational affixes may attach to a word and reviews proposals that have been made to account for affix ordering in the world’s languages. There are a variety of factors which appear to influence affix-ordering each of which can be observed across multiple languages. However, as argued by Manova and Aronoff (2010), while there are observable cross-linguistic tendencies, there is certainly no existing recipe of factors that can be shown to dictate all languages’ affix-ordering behaviurs. The object of study is inherently different across different languages due to the frequency and productivity distributions of the affixes, the semantic notions expressed by them, the factors that lend themselves to parsing affixes in speech perception, the statistical (ir)regularities, and the degree of semantic and phonological transparency. Different languages their own solutions to the problem of balancing these tensions and establishing an “optimal” affix order.
The main characteristics of bilingual dictionaries are identified and described. The history and development of this genre of dictionary is sketched and analysed. Current issues confronting this kind of dictionary are identified. After briefly describing the origin of bilingual dictionaries, this chapter focuses on the four major functions of these dictionaries as well as on the significant changes bilingual lexicography has undergone over the last twenty years. It also describes some of the hot topics that are currently debated in lexicography circles today.
John N. Williams
Psycholinguistic research provides a wealth of evidence that when performing tasks in one language bilinguals and proficient second language learners cannot avoid activating orthographic, phonological, lemma, and semantic representations in their other languages. These other-language influences are evident in performance measures such as reaction time, eye movements, and brain potentials. Representations in a bilingual’s different languages continuously compete with each other for selection, suggesting that they are stored within compound systems. This is the case both for early simultaneous acquirers and adult second-language learners. With regard to mapping form onto meaning, less proficient second-language learners tend to rely on direct connections to L1 translations, while acquiring direct language-specific mappings from form to meaning requires a large amount of experience. Bilinguals rely on domain-general executive control mechanisms to manage the activation levels of their different languages.
This article discusses three basic paradigmatic models that Arabic lexicographers adopted over time: (I) al-Khaliil’s model in Kitaab al-ʕayn; (II) al-Jawharii’s model in alhaah; and (III) al-Bustaanii’s model in Kitaab muħiiṭ al-muħiiṭ. Though the three approaches are procedurally opposed, all account for the lexical data of Arabic, offer justifiable procedures of how to account for the complexity of the data, and are maximally different from each other. The article presents a biographical sketch of these selected lexicographers, followed by a discussion of the design and composition of their dictionaries and where they fit in the historical flow of Arabic linguistic activity of their time.
The lexicon is central to the concerns of disparate disciplines and has correspondingly elicited conflicting proposals about some of its foundational properties. Some suppose that word meanings and their associated concepts are largely universal, while others note that local cultural interests infiltrate every category in the lexicon. This chapter reviews research in two semantic domains—perception and the body—in order to illustrate crosslinguistic similarities and differences in semantic fields. Data is considered from a wide array of languages, especially those from small-scale indigenous communities which are often overlooked. In every lexical field we find considerable variation across cultures, raising the question of where this variation comes from. Is it the result of different ecological or environmental niches, cultural practices, or accidents of historical pasts? Current evidence suggests that diverse pressures differentially shape lexical fields.
Kenneth L. Rehg
Dictionaries play an essential role in documenting and conserving endangered languages. However, many such languages lack dictionaries, for a variety of reasons. A fundamental one is that relatively few linguists have had any training in lexicography. The purpose of this chapter, therefore, is to provide a preliminary guide to compiling a dictionary by envisioning that task as the production of a product. The creation of any successful product entails at least five steps—research, preliminary planning, design and construction, distribution, and support. Each of these steps is briefly discussed here, with an emphasis on dictionary design, described in terms of the dictionary’s macrostructure, microstructure, and megastructure. Legal and ethical issues are also briefly considered. The primary goal of this chapter is to urge researchers to undertake the creation of a dictionary, and to provide them with a conceptual framework to do so.
Compound word formation is examined from the twin perspectives of comparative grammar and child language acquisition. Points of cross-linguistic variation addressed include the availability of bare-stem endocentric compounding as a “creative” process, head modifier order, the distribution of linking elements in Swedish and German compounds, the possibility of recursion, and the availability of synthetic compounding of the -ER (English dish washer) and bare-stem (French lave-vaisselle) types. Proposals discussed at length include Beard’s Generalization (which links head modifier order in compounds to the position of attributive adjectives), Snyder’s Compounding Parameter (linking syntactic availability of verb-particle constructions and adjectival resultatives to availability of creative endocentric compounding), and Gordon’s acquisitional studies of Kiparsky’s Generalization (concerning restrictions on regular plural-marking within compounds).
This chapter aims to answer questions generally relevant for the task of constructing a corpus that can serve as a sound empirical basis for the creation of dictionaries as well as for linguistic research. Starting from theoretical considerations of corpus design and representativeness, it also discusses practical issues, such as how the primary data in corpora can be enriched with other kinds of information, how raw data can be converted to corpora, how the necessary rights can be acquired, and in general, how to avoid possible pitfalls. In these considerations the construction of a corpus will be viewed primarily as a complex optimization task that should best be approached iteratively, for which typically no single optimal solution can be found, and in which costs are a crucial factor.
Monolingual dictionaries devote more time, money, and effort to the writing definitions than to anything else, but this does not translate into commensurate user benefits. Studies of dictionary use show that the main uses of monolingual dictionaries are for quick and superficial checks on spelling and approximate primary meaning, rather than for more elaborate and carefully constructed linguistic information and subtle sense distinctions as contained in most dictionary entries. This chapter surveys traditional approaches to definition in dictionaries from the eighteenth century to the present day, summarizes some of the most important discoveries by philosophers and anthropologists about the nature of word meaning during the twentieth century, and closes by asking how this is likely to affect dictionary writing in the future. Should lexicographers abandon the unachievable dream of defining word meaning in terms of necessary and sufficient conditions, and look instead at the facts of words in use?
Compounds are contrasted in structure and meaning with affixations. It is shown how affixes may develop historically from productive compound patterns when a productive core constituent can no longer be associated with its independent form. Meaning extension and separation is a common occurrence in compounds. Recent psycholinguistic findings indicate that frequent constituents of non-transparent compounds have separate entries in the mental lexicon as bound variants of their free counterparts. The so-called “lexical affixes” of certain noun incorporating languages present interesting borderline cases, as they contain a mix of lexeme-like semantics with formal properties of affixes. They too may have arisen via a grammaticalization process from (bound) roots to formatives. Synthetic compounds are argued to be genuine compounds with derived transitive heads. Finally, complex conversion structures, analogies, blends, and back-formations are differentiated on the basis of their restricted interpretation from productive compounds.
This chapter examines the extent of the digital migration of reference works from print to screen, and the effect this is having on dictionary publishers and dictionary users. It discusses the place of the human lexicographer, and possible new sources of e-dictionary revenue in the new ‘give-away’ internet environment. It also considers the automatic and collaborative generation of dictionary content, quality issues, and the needs and preferences of dictionary users around the world.
In linguistics, descriptivism and prescriptivism are commonly depicted as antonyms. Dyads of objectivity and subjectivity, evidence-based analysis vs. the pull of opinion, and impartial engagement vs. the idiosyncrasies of individual response recur repeatedly. Yet prescription and description can be placed in markedly asymmetric relation. Being descriptive is made part of the legitimate practice of linguistic response. Prescriptivism is both delegitimized and devalorized. Such demarcations prove interestingly complex in lexicography, where descriptive and prescriptive can co-exist within a single work (or even a single entry). The point at which descriptivism shades into prescriptivism can be difficult to locate. Descriptive processes of collection and evaluation of evidence can be accompanied by prescriptive (and proscriptive) reservation. While a historical trajectory from prescriptive to descriptive can be identified, this exhibits unexpected configurations, especially if moral and cultural prescriptivism are considered. These issues are examined as reflected in English dictionaries, especially the Oxford English Dictionary.
Marc Alexander and Christian Kay
The semantically-arranged thesaurus is the oldest recorded form of lexicography, and such works combine facts about the language with facts about the world in which the language is used. This article outlines the principles behind thesauruses, focusing mainly on Roget’s Thesaurus and more modern works such as the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary, and describes their internal structure, major types, history, and uses. In particular, it discusses and illustrates the evolution, major functions, and advantages of these thesauruses, with reference to both their overall structuring frameworks and their future potentials.
The main characteristics of dictionaries for general users are identified and described. The history and development of this genre of dictionary is summarized and analysed. Current issues confronting this kind of dictionary are identified, in particular its relationship with rapidly developing online resources. Central questions addressed include how and why this particular type of dictionary has come to play such an important role in the public consciousness and has figured so largely in the output of commercial publishers, while often being regarded dismissively by linguists and generally being accorded little academic prestige.
To the user, typically a reader, of a ‘dead’ language, a dictionary is arguably indispensable for enabling understanding of a language for which live interactive discourse with native speakers is impossible. This is also inextricably allied to issues in its compilation, arising from the absence of possible interaction with native speakers. Thus such dictionaries exhibit significant differences from dictionaries of living languages. Differences in the range of items included (‘extent’) and the types of information provided about them (‘content’) are key results of the linguistic discontinuity. They reflect adaptation of the processes of preparing the dictionary—both research and presentation—to address the challenges of the limited surviving evidence and the needs of users. This chapter examines of some of the major dictionaries of Latin and ancient Greek, and how they negotiate the surviving linguistic evidence to meet the needs and expectations of readers.
This chapter about etymological dictionaries covers mainly two topics. First, it provides, based mostly on examples from European languages, a broad analysis of contemporary practices in etymographical work concerning turn in turn inherited lexicon, borrowings, and internal creations, that is, the three grand etymological classes which make their own different demands of an etymologist. Then it tackles some issues the author considers of particular interest in current etymography: the dictionary’s underlying definition of etymology, the wordlist, what should be considered the etymological (and etymographical) unit, etimologia prossima vs. etimologia remota, the degree of formalization, and the prickly question of completing etymological dictionaries.
The key defining characteristic of a historical dictionary is that it presents the histories of individual words over time, grouping together material that shows a shared or common historical development, and presenting in separate entries material that shows a distinct history. This apparently simple criterion for the division and structuring of material in a historical dictionary in fact brings with it many challenges, and judgement calls for the lexicographer, some of the main categories of which are identified and illustrated in this chapter. Test cases investigated include: a large set of homonyms from the Oxford English Dictionary; words that show multiple inputs; and words that show lexical merger or split.
When people consult a bilingual dictionary, they usually do so because they want to find out what the word means. Bilingual dictionaries have arisen in response to people’s need to establish meaning correspondences between languages. It is only after a dictionary user has identified such provisional correspondences that they can proceed with translating, producing their own utterances in the foreign language, or any other activity which prompted them to consult a bilingual dictionary. Depending on the headword, semantic information in the dictionary can be conveyed in different ways. The most important meaning-elucidating strategy is the provision of lexicographic equivalents, which form an internally diversified category. In good bilingual dictionaries, equivalents are routinely complemented by glosses, labels, notes, and, increasingly often, examples of usage. Special emphasis is given to the typology of equivalence (cognitive, translational, explanatory, and functional) developed by the author on the basis of the work of Ladislav Zgusta.
This chapter looks at the special case of definitions in monolingual dictionaries for non-native speakers of English, and ways in which definitions are constructed or modified to meet the needs of the target users: since the primary purpose of these dictionaries is pedagogical, the lexicographical aim is to explain word usage rather than delimit semantics more formally. The chapter begins by examining general principles, the language of explanations including defining vocabularies, and explanatory techniques. Later sections discuss the roles of pictorial illustrations and examples; the relationship between phraseology, meaning, and explanation; and the special issues raised in explaining very high-frequency words, evaluative and cultural meanings, pragmatic function, and technical vocabulary. The final section looks briefly at meaning in bilingualized and online dictionaries for learners.