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date: 24 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Dictionaries, those inventories of words which also often include definitions, pronunciations, histories, and usage labels, are often seen by their users as authoritative containers of lexical facts, while their creators view them as only tools which reflect language, rather than prescribe it. This chapter provides an overview of the history, function, and structure of dictionaries, with particular reference to the relationship between lexicography and words themselves. It highlights the issues with producing scholarly and commercial dictionaries, the relationship between lexicographers neutrally describing words and users wanting prescriptive rules for their use, and the ways in which modern artificial dictionary structures are rooted in natural language examples from electronic data.

Keywords: lexicography, dictionaries, lexicology, historical lexicography, prescriptive rules, electronic corpora

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