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LEXICOGRAPHY

LEXICOGRAPHY The procedure and profession of arranging and describing items of VOCABULARY in such works of reference as dictionaries, glossaries, thesauruses, synonym guides, usage guides, and concordances. Traditionally, lexicography has been of two kinds: alphabetic lexicography, the dominant form whose best-known product is the DICTIONARY properly so called, and thematic lexicography, which arranges words by themes or topics, usually accompanied by an index, of which such a ‘classified’ work of REFERENCE as Roget's Thesaurus is a leading example. By and large, however, lexicography is taken to be a process of describing words in an alphabetic list, and most lexicographers work on dictionaries of a relatively STANDARD kind. Equally traditionally, lexicography can be said to include the compilation not only of books about words (dictionaries, etc.), but also books about things (encyclopedias, etc.). Again, however, it is generally taken to centre on the making of wordbooks, which may be more encyclopedic (like many French and American works) or less encyclopedic (like many British works).

Products

The products of lexicography are varied. In terms of dictionaries proper, they range from the 20-volume OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY and such large (‘unabridged’) one-volume US works as the Webster's Third New International Dictionary and the Random House Dictionary of the English Language through the desk, family, or collegiate dictionary (such as Chambers English Dictionary and Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary), to the concise or compact (The Concise Oxford Dictionary), the pocket (The Pocket Oxford Dictionary), and even smaller works (the Collins Gem series). Lexicographic work may be monolingual, bilingual or multilingual, and may be undertaken for general purposes or for (among others) small children, school and college students, or other special-interest groups. Whatever form they take, however, their compilation rests on the amassing and sifting of evidence about words and other expressions (for example citations from texts), and editorial guidelines as to what should be included, how it should be organized, and what special features (such as phonetics, etymologies, pictures, etc.) should be added.

Sources and coverage

All types of linguistic evidence are available to lexicographers, including introspection and discussion, the examination of pre-existing works of reference and other sources, and the formal use of survey questionnaires and citation corpora (both traditional, kept on cards, and electronic, stored in computer databases). Some classes of vocabulary item are normally excluded from most general dictionaries, but may appear in encyclopedic and specialist dictionaries, such as the binomial nomenclature of biology, and proverbs and quotations. After systematic exclusions are dealt with for the purposes of a general dictionary, what remains of the vocabulary is assessed for potential entries. Where large dictionaries seek to cover as much as possible, smaller dictionaries aimed at certain kinds of user have (often as the result of adhoc decision-taking) lists judged appropriate to their level. Specialist dictionaries have lists appropriate to their core topic (for example, The Penguin Dictionary of Saints, and Partridge's Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, etc.).

Dictionary information

Dictionaries generally give some or all of the following types of information in an order appropriate to the work in question: (1) Headword and any variants, sometimes with syllabication marked and HOMOGRAPH status indicated. (2) Pronunciation in a system of RESPELLING or phonetic symbols. (3) Grammatical information and usage labels (often in the form of ABBREVIATIONS or codes). (4) Number of senses as necessary. (5) Explanations proper. (6) Possible illustrative phrases or sentences. (7) COMPOUNDS, DERIVATIVES, PHRASAL VERBS, AND IDIOMS (if not listed separately). (8) ETYMOLOGY. (9) Points of USAGE. (10) Information about SYNONYMS and ANTONYMS.

Conventions

In presenting their information, most lexicographical works of reference (dictionaries, thesauruses, etc.) have two columns of densely organized information in small type. They use contrastive typefaces for distinct purposes, such as bold-face type for headwords, roman for definitions, italics for abbreviated codes and specimen words and phrases, and small capitals for cross-references. Square brackets may enclose special information, such as etymologies at the beginning or end of entries, while round brackets (parentheses) may add ancillary information in the body of the explanations. By and large, even when schools and colleges give students guidance on what to expect in a dictionary, the differences of format and emphasis from dictionary to dictionary are seldom discussed. As a consequence, for many people the complex layout of standard dictionaries may be intimidating. Thus, compounds may be main entries in one dictionary but sub-entries in another; abbreviations, word elements, biographical information, etc., may be in appendices at the back in one book, and interspersed through the main text in another.

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Lexicography

406. Lexicography

  1. Johnson, Samuel (17091784) literary scholar, creator of first comprehensive lexicographical work of English. [Br. Hist.: EB, V: 591]
  2. Murray, James (18371915) renowned editor of the Oxford English Dictionary. [Br. Hist.: Caught in the Web of Words ]
  3. Oxford English Dictionary (OED ) great multi-volume historical dictionary of English. [Br. Hist.: Caught in the Web of Words ]
  4. Webster, Noah (17581843) philologist and compiler of popular comprehensive American dictionary. [Am. Hist.: Hart, 902]
  5. Websters now used generically, synonymous in U.S. with authoritativeness in a dictionary. [Am. Cult.: Misc.]

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LEXICOLOGY

LEXICOLOGY. An area of language study concerned with the nature, meaning, history, and use of words and word elements and often also with the critical description of LEXICOGRAPHY. Although formerly a branch of PHILOLOGY, lexicology is increasingly treated as a branch of LINGUISTICS, associated with such terms as LEXEME, lexical field, lexical item, LEXICON, LEXIS, on the premiss that they offer (or could offer, if tightly defined and widely adopted) a more precise and useful basis for the study of language than imprecise terms such as WORD and VOCABULARY.

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lexicography

lexicography, the applied study of the meaning, evolution, and function of the vocabulary units of a language for the purpose of compilation in book form—in short, the process of dictionary making. Early lexicography, practiced from the 7th cent. BC in Mesopotamia, Greece, and Rome, was reserved for abstruse words of specific disciplines. General lexicography originated in the 16th cent., and aspects of the modern dictionary, such as etymology, developed during the 17th and 18th cent.

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lexicography

lex·i·cog·ra·phy / ˌleksəˈkägrəfē/ • n. the practice of compiling dictionaries. DERIVATIVES: lex·i·co·graph·ic / -kəˈgrafik/ adj. lex·i·co·graph·i·cal / -kəˈgrafikəl/ adj. lex·i·co·graph·i·cal·ly / -kəˈgrafik(ə)lē/ adv.

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lexicology

lex·i·col·o·gy / ˌleksəˈkäləjē/ • n. the study of the form, meaning, and use of words. DERIVATIVES: lex·i·co·log·i·cal / -kəˈläjikəl/ adj. lex·i·co·log·i·cal·ly / -kəˈläjik(ə)lē/ adv.

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lexicography

lexicographydaffy, taffy •Amalfi •Cavafy, Gaddafi •Effie •beefy, Fifi, leafy •cliffy, iffy, jiffy, Liffey, niffy, sniffy, spiffy, squiffy, stiffy, whiffy •salsify •coffee, toffee •wharfie •Sophie, strophe, trophy •Dufy, goofy, Sufi •fluffy, huffy, puffy, roughie, roughy, scruffy, snuffy, stuffy, toughie •comfy • atrophy •anastrophe, catastrophe •calligraphy, epigraphy, tachygraphy •dystrophy, epistrophe •autobiography, bibliography, biography, cardiography, cartography, chirography, choreography, chromatography, cinematography, cosmography, cryptography, demography, discography, filmography, geography, hagiography, historiography, hydrography, iconography, lexicography, lithography, oceanography, orthography, palaeography (US paleography), photography, pornography, radiography, reprography, stenography, topography, typography •apostrophe •gymnosophy, philosophy, theosophy •furphy, murphy, scurfy, surfy, turfy

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