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§ 6. The Selection - Учебник предназначается для студентов институтов и факультетов иностранных языков. Ббк 81....

§ 6. The Selection
of Lexical Units
for Inclusion

It would be a mistake to think that there are big academic dictionaries that list everything and that the shorter variants are mere quantitative reductions from their basis. In reality only a dictionary of a dead language or a certain historical period of a living language or a word-book presenting the language of some author (called concordance) can be complete as

far as the repertory of the lexical units recorded in the preserved texts

goes. As to living languages with new texts constantly coming into existence, with an endless number of spoken utterances, no dictionary of reasonable size could possibly register all occasional applications of a lexical unit, nor is it possible to present all really occurring lexical items. There is, for instance, no possibility of recording all the technical terms because they are too numerous and their number increases practically every day (chemical terminology alone is said to consist of more than 400,000 terms). Therefore selection is obviously necessary for all dictionaries.
The choice of lexical units for inclusion in the prospective dictionary is one of the first problems the lexicographer faces.
First of all the type of lexical units to be chosen for inclusion is to be decided upon. Then the number of items to be recorded must be determined. Then there is the basic problem of what to select and what to leave out in the dictionary. Which form of the language, spoken or written or both, is the dictionary to reflect? Should the dictionary contain obsolete and archaic units, technical terms, dialectisms, colloquialisms, and so forth?
There is no general reply to any of these questions. The choice among the different possible answers depends upon the type to which the dictionary will belong, the aim the compilers pursue, the prospective user of the dictionary, its size, the linguistic conceptions of the dictionary-makers and some other considerations.
Explanatory and translation dictionaries usually record words and phraseological units, some of them also include affixes as separate entries. Synonym-books, pronouncing, etymological dictionaries and some others deal only with words. Frequency dictionaries differ in the type of units included. Most of them enter graphic units, thus failing to discriminate between homographs (such as






v) and listing inflected forms of the same words (such as

go, gone, going, goes)

as separate items; others enter words in accordance with the usual lexicographic practice; still others record morphemes or collocations.
The number of entries is usually reduced at the expense of some definite strata of the vocabulary, such as dialectisms, jargonisms, technical terms, foreign words and the less frequently used words (archaisms, obsolete words, etc.).
The policy settled on depends to a great extent on the aim of the dictionary. As to general explanatory dictionaries, for example, diachronic and synchronic word-books differ greatly in their approach to the problem. Since the former are concerned with furnishing an account of the historical development of lexical units, such dictionaries as NED and SOD embrace not only the vocabulary of oral and written English of the present day, together with such technical and scientific words as are most frequently met with, but also a considerable proportion of obsolete, archaic, and dialectal words and uses. Synchronic explanatory dictionaries include mainly common words in ordinary present-day use with only some more important archaic and technical words. Naturally the bigger the dictionary, the larger is the measure of peripheral words,
the greater the number of words that are so infrequently used as to be mere museum pieces.
In accordance with the compiler’s aim the units for inclusion are drawn either from other dictionaries or from some reading matter or from the spoken discourse. For example, the corpus from which the word frequencies are derived may be composed of different types of textual material: books of fiction, scientific and technical literature, newspapers and magazines, school textbooks, personal or business letters, interviews, telephone conversations, etc.
Because of the difference between spoken and written language it is to be remembered in dealing with word-books based on printed or written matter that they tend to undervalue the items used more frequently in oral speech and to overweight the purely literary items.

§ 7. Arrangement of Entries

The order of arrangement of the entries to be included is different in different types of dictionaries and even in the word-books of the same type. In most dictionaries of various types entries are given in a single alphabetical listing. In many others the units entered are arranged in nests, based on this or that principle.
In some explanatory and translation dictionaries, for example, entries are grouped in families of words of the same root. In this case the basic units are given as main entries that appear in alphabetical order while the derivatives and the phrases which the word enters are given either as subentries or in the same entry, as run-ons that are also alphabetised. The difference between subentries and run-ons is that the former do include definitions and usage labels, whereas run-on words are not defined as meaning is clear from the main entry (most often because they are built after productive patterns).
Compare, for example, how the words




are entered in the two dictionaries:


a. Vile, contemptible Hence — LY2 adv.


adj. that is or should be despised; contemptible.


adv. in a despicable manner
In synonym-books words are arranged in synonymic sets and its dominant member serves as the head-word of the entry.
In some phraseological dictionaries, e.g. in prof. Koonin’s dictionary, the phrases are arranged in accordance with their pivotal words which are defined as constant non-interchangeable elements of phrases.
A variation of the cluster-type arrangement can be found in the few frequency dictionaries in which the items included are not arranged alphabetically. In such dictionaries the entries follow each other in the descending order of their frequency, items of the same frequency value grouped together.
Each of the two modes of presentation, the alphabetical and the cluster-type, has its own advantages. The former provides for an easy finding of any word and establishing its meaning, frequency value, etc. The latter requires less space and presents a clearer picture of the
relations of each unit under consideration with some other units in the language system, since words of the same root, the same denotational meaning or close in their frequency value are grouped together.
Practically, however, most dictionaries are a combination of the two orders of arrangement. In most explanatory and translation dictionaries the main entries, both simple words and derivatives, appear in alphabetical order, with this or that measure of run-ons, thrown out of alphabetical order.
If the order of arrangement is not strictly alphabetical in synonym-books and phraseological dictionaries, very often an alphabetical index is supplied to ensure easy handling of the dictionary.
Some frequency dictionaries, among them nearly all those constructed in our country, contain two parts with both types of lists.

§ 8. Selection and Arrangement of Meanings

One of the most difficult problems nearly ‘ all lexicographers face is recording the word-meanings and arranging them in the
most rational way, in the order that is supposed to be of most help to those who will use the dictionary.
If one compares the general number of meanings of a word in different dictionaries even those of the same type, one will easily see that their number varies considerably.
Compare, for example, the number and choice of meanings in the entries for


taken from COD and WCD given below1. As we see, COD records only the meanings current at the present moment, whereas WCD also lists those that are now obsolete.
The number of meanings a word is given and their choice in this or that dictionary depend, mainly, on two factors: 1) on what aim the compilers set themselves and 2) what decisions they make concerning the extent to which obsolete, archaic, dialectal or highly specialised meanings should be recorded, how the problem of polysemy and homonymy is solved, how cases of conversion are treated, how the segmentation of different meanings of a polysemantic word is made, etc.
It is natural, for example, that diachronic dictionaries list many more meanings than synchronic dictionaries of current English, as they record not only the meanings in present-day use, but also those that have already become archaic or gone out of use. Thus SOD lists eight meanings of the word


(two of which are now obsolete and two are archaic), while COD gives five.
Students sometimes think that if the meaning is placed first in the entry, it must be the most important, the most frequent in present-day use. This is not always the case. It depends on the plan followed by the compilers.
There are at least three different ways in which the word meanings are arranged: in the sequence of their historical development (called historical order), in conformity with frequency of use that is with the most common meaning first (empirical or actual order), and in their logical connection (logical order).
1 See p. 223
In different dictionaries the problem of arrangement is solved in different ways. It is well-accepted practice in Soviet lexicography to follow the historical order in diachronic dictionaries and to adhere to the empirical and logical order in synchronic word-books.
As to dictionaries published in English-speaking countries, they are not so consistent in this respect. It is natural that diachronic dictionaries are based on the principle of historical sequence, but the same principle is also followed by some synchronic dictionaries as well (e.g. by NID and some other Webster’s dictionaries).
In many other dictionaries meanings are generally organised by frequency of use, but sometimes the primary meaning comes first if this is considered essential to a correct understanding of derived meanings. For example, in the ^ WCD entry for


given below1 it is the primary, etymological meaning that is given priority of place, though it is obsolete in our days.2

§ 9. Definition of Meanings

Meanings of words may be defined in different ways: 1) by means of definitions that are characterised as encyclopaedic, 2) by means of descriptive definitions or paraphrases, 3) with the help of synonymous words and expressions, 4) by means of cross-references.
Encyclopaedic definitions as distinct from descriptive definitions determine not only the word-meaning, but also the underlying concept.




Hard opaque black or blackish mineral or vegetable matter found in seams or strata below earth’s surface and used as fuel and in manufacture of gas, tar, etc. ANTHRACITE, BITUMINOUS COAL, LIGNITE; ...
Synonymous definitions consist of words or word-groups with nearly equivalent meaning, as distinct from descriptive definitions which are explanations with the help of words not synonymous with the word to be defined.
For example, in the two entries for


given above COD defines the word-meaning with the help of synonyms, while WNWD uses both descriptive and synonymous definitions.
Reference to other words as a means of semantisation can be illustrated with the following examples taken from COD:
defense. See defence


= diminuendo
It is the descriptive definitions that are used in an overwhelming majority of entries. While the general tendency is the same, words belonging to different parts of speech and to different groups within them have their own peculiarities. Encyclopaedic definitions are typical of nouns, especially proper nouns and terms. Synonyms are used most
1 See p. 223.
2 See also a detailed comparison of the entries for the word


in four dictionaries made by Mathews (Readings in English Lexicology, pp. 196-201).
often to define verbs and adjectives. Reference to other words is resorted to define some derivatives, abbreviations and variant forms.
Apart from the nature of the word to be defined the type of definitions given preference depends on the aim of the dictionary and its size. For instance encyclopaedic definitions play a very important role in unabridged dictionaries (especially those published in America); in middle-size dictionaries they are used for the most part to define ethnographic and historical concepts. Synonymous definitions play a secondary role in unabridged dictionaries where they are used as an addition to descriptive or encyclopaedic definitions, and are much more important in shorter dictionaries, probably because they are a convenient means to economise space.

§ 10. Illustrative Examples

It is common knowledge that all dictionaries save those of a narrowly restricted purpose, such as, e.g., frequency dictionaries, spelling books, etymological, pronouncing, ideographic or reverse dictionaries, provide illustrative examples.
• The purpose of these examples depends on the type of the dictionary and on the aim the compilers set themselves. They can illustrate the first and the last known occurrences of the entry word, the successive changes in its graphic and phonetic forms, as well as in its meaning, the typical patterns and collocations, the difference between synonymous words, they place words in a context to clarify their meanings and usage.
When are illustrative examples to be used? Which words may be listed without illustrations? Should illustrative sentences be made up, or should they always be quotations of some authors? How much space should be devoted to illustrative examples? Which examples should be chosen as typical?
Those are some of the questions to be considered.
In principle only some technical terms that are monosemantic can, if precisely defined, be presented without examples even in a large dictionary. In practice, however, because of space considerations this is not the case. It is natural that the bigger the dictionary the more examples it usually contains. Only very small dictionaries, usually of low quality, do not include examples at all.
As to the nature of examples, diachronic dictionaries make use of quotations drawn from literary sources, while in synchronic dictionaries quoted examples are preferred by big dictionaries, in middle-size dictionaries illustrative sentences and phrases drawn from classical and contemporary sources or those constructed by the compilers are employed.
The form of the illustrative quotations can differ in different dictionaries; the main variation can be observed in the length of the quotation and in the precision of the citation.
Some dictionaries indicate the author, the work, the page, verse, or line, and (in diachronic dictionaries) the precise date of the publication, some indicate only the author, because it gives at least basic orientation about the time when the word occurs and the type of text.
It is necessary to stress the fact that word-meanings can be explained
not only with the help of definitions and examples but also by means of showing their collocability (lexical and grammatical valency 1), especially their typical collocability.

2014-07-19 18:44
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