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The History And Principles Of Lexicography

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Language
Wordcount: 2442 words Published: 2nd May 2017

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Lexicography is separated into two types: Practical lexicography is the ability of accumulating, writing and editing dictionaries. The study or description of the vocabulary of a particular language, and the meaning that associates certain words to others in a dictionary, is recognized as Theotrical Lexicography. Theotrical Lexicography is particularly concerned with developing theories concerning the structural and semantic associations among words in the dictionary. As it involves theotrical analysis of the lexicon, Theotrical Lexicography is also identified as Metalexicography

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To gain a better understanding of lexicography, we should be familiar with lexicons. Lexicon is an expression used in linguistics to point out the archive of lexemes. Lexemes are abstract, smallest components in a language that connect interrelated forms of a word together. Lexemes, then, make up a lexicon which is the compilation of word meanings in a specified language. In a dictionary, the lexemes, sometimes loosely referred to as word stems, are given first and followed by variations of the base word. The lexicon also deals with semantics which is a field of linguistics. In addition to providing data on the morphology and semantics of a lexeme, the dictionary in addition offers structural information concerning the origin of the word, and chronological information about the development of the word into its present-day form. This is recognized as etymology.

Lexicology took form to meet the demands of many diverse branches of applied linguistics. Its significance is that assists to motivate a systematic approach to the facts of vocabulary and an organised judgment of the foreign and native language. It is mainly helpful in building up the learner’s terminology by a useful selection, grouping and study of new words.

The English Dictionary has not been created by a single man and not in one age. It has gradually developed through the ages. In the seventh and eighth centuries, Latin was the only language of books in Western Europe. Then, the education of Latin was the doorway to all the knowledge. Right about that time, a carrier of a Latin book came across difficult words which were not well known in Latin vocabulary. Upon discovering the meanings, he used to write them over the original text in easier Latin or a word in his own dialect. A

Word written in such manner is called a “gloss”. Many examples of glosses have been found in old Latin texts. Professor Napier collected all the unpublished glosses. An assortment of glosses which was copied and put together into a single list comprised a Glossarium or Glossary; it was the distant forerunner of the seventeenth-century ‘Table Alphabetical,’ or ‘Expositor of Hard Words.’ In cooperation grammar and vocables were most likely communicated by oral teaching, and were passed down by speech from generation to generation. Records of vocables, with their meaning were sometimes preserved down in a paper or parchment leaves and a compilation of these composed a Vocabularium or Vocabulary. [1] 

The Vocabulary and the Glossary satisfied alike offices and so they were frequently united. When these documents were copied and re-copied, it was observed that their effectiveness can be improved by putting the words and phrases into alphabetical order, all the words with the same first letter was brought together. All the words beginning with A were extracted, then with B and so on. This is known as the “first letter” order. Another scribe sometime later selected the A words that began with Aa, Ab and so on. Now the vocabulary was to the extent of the second letter of each word.

All these stages can be noticed in four of the earliest glossaries of English origin as the Leiden, the Epinal, the Erfurt, and the Corpus. The Leiden Glossary corresponds to the initial phase of such a work. Epinal Glossary, which uses part at least of the materials of the Leiden, adding in with them many others. This glossary has sophisticated to first-letter order. The third stage is characterized by the Corpus Glossary where the alphabetical arrangement second letters order. The MS. of the Corpus Glossary dates to the early part of the eighth century. The Leiden was created between 600 and 700 A.D. a lot of vocabularies were brought together between this time frame and the eleventh century. It is obvious that as time went by, these glossaries and vocabularies became more and it is noteworthy that those ancient glossaries and vocabularies not only became fuller and more systematic and more English. At first glosses were used to explain hard Latin words by easier Latin words. If an easier word was not known then the explanation was in Old English. In the Epinal Glossary the English words are therefore comparatively in a small amount. In the Corpus Glossary, and the glossaries that follow, the Latin explanations have become more eradicated and restored by English ones. In the tenth and eleventh centuries vocabularies were Latin-English. During the sixteenth century there were accumulated and published many important Latin-English and English-Latin vocabularies and dictionaries. In 1747, five or six London booksellers contracted with Johnson to create the preferred standard dictionary. From the first quarter of the nineteenth century, the lexicographical superiority of Johnson’s Dictionary was undoubted. Noah Webster and Dr. Charles Richardson contributed independent works towards the development of lexicology. Noah Webster believed that America must have a dictionary of its own form of English. Richardson believed that definitions are unnecessary in a dictionary, that quotations only are enough. He created a dictionary without definitions, but he exemplified each group of words by a large series of quotations.

In the middle of the nineteenth century, Dr. Trench, then Dean of Westminster, called upon the Philological Society to take on the compilation of resources to complete the work already done by Bailey, Johnson, Todd, Webster, Richardson, and others, and to prepare a supplement to all the dictionaries, which must catalog all absent words and senses, and provide all the chronological information in which these works were deficient. From this urge the movement started which has concluded in the preparation of the Oxford English Dictionary, ‘A new English Dictionary on Historical Principles, founded mainly on the materials collected by the Philological Society.’ Since then several large dictionaries have been accumulated. [2] 


What is the difference between a dictionary and an encyclopedia [·] ?

The main differences between a dictionary and an encyclopaedia are that a dictionary makes definitions of words available for us, which are arranged alphabetically, gives information on how to pronounce the word, lexicons. Whereas an encyclopaedia is a set of books that contain articles on different subjects in alphabetical order.

If we look at an example of the word “table”. The dictionary gives us different meanings of this word with sentences. When we look at an encyclopaedia for the same word, we get a range of articles that are related to the specific word with detailed information and even pictures.

What jobs should dictionaries do?

The following are some of the main jobs that dictionaries do:

look up the meaning of an English word

find the English translation of a word in your language

check the spelling of a word

check the plural of a noun or past tense of a verb

find out other grammatical information about a word

find the synonym or antonym of a word

look up the collocations of a word

check the part of speech of a word

find out how to say a word

find out about the register of a word

find examples of the use of a word in natural language

Dictionaries are used by people of different professions to help them at work. Below are some examples:

Teacher: The dictionary means that the teacher is not required to investigate each word to find out if each of the students is able to recognise the use of this word in the specific circumstance. The skill to make use of a somewhat more highly developed vocabulary without risk strengthens this vocabulary for people who are familiar with it and to let others rapidly get hold of the vocabulary, giving them the self-assurance to take on more difficult texts. Additional, by presenting more than a few senses, the process of choosing the accurate one commences the cognitive course of disambiguation that the person who reads even having a superior vocabulary requiures to obtain. Out of all the likely meanings, the learner ought to single out the accurate one, therefore moving from a lexical to a semantic understanding of the term inside the text.

Student: A thesaurus is a great tool if writing an essay. Teachers have a preference to writing where vocabulary is varied. Synonyms and related terms can be used for a particular meaning of the word.

English learners: A dictionary is a great companion to prolong a diminutive vocabulary. If you find a word that you are not aware the meaning of, use of a dictionary will assist in defining that word and by providing examples of its usage in a sentence. When you are trying to find a word, you also get a chance to learn other new words which are related to that word. The word might contain more than a few meanings. The more you teach English, the larger the number of resulting meanings you desire to search for. These are frequently in sequence to how often the sense is used. The more your are improved in your English, the more senses you would like to become well-known with. This will keep away from confusion in the future as you start reading more difficult documents. It is also helpful to look for for synonyms whilst you are there. Looking up synonyms is a excellent way of authenticating that you have in fact understood the word. Are the synonyms listed by the dictionary the same in a sentence with the word you are looking up? If not, you might have the incorrect sense of the word. Another great tool for learning is “related terms”. You can look up additional universal or more definite terms. Looking up more general terms is great for reading; it helps better understand the word but letting look at words that have somewhat different meanings and understanding why they are not synonyms. An additional way of using a dictionary is to understand a term into your language.

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Learning another language: An online dictionary is great for people who are learning a new language. If you don’t know a language at all, then you have probably tried one of the many online translators; these translators translate a page of a foreign language into English. You will not need to translate the matter if you have even a little understanding of that language. You can use a dictionary to find out the meanings of words that you are not familiar with.

When writing: A dictionary is an important tool for writers. This is because they have to be certain that the words are spelled correctly. An automatic spell checker will not give you the same results as a dictionary would. Editors will always tell you to differ your vocabulary. You can look up in the thesaurus to find similar words to the ones you wish to use.



Consider more recent developments in modelling lexical meaning such as network representations.

A Data-graphical Model of the Linguistic Sign.

The triangle is the vital graphical formula of the sign.

The semantic triangle is the first graphic model of the sign.

This triangle imitates the proposition which has been acknowledged since the Middle Ages, that the form of a linguistic expression (Symbol) denotes the “thing” (Referent) by virtue of “understanding” (Thought). This is the “logical triangle” by the German logician and mathematician G. Frege. In this triangle, the graphical image separates and brings together denotation (Bedeutung), concept (Sinn), and sign (Form).

The British linguist John Lyons in his model articulated the temperament of the word (Word) more accurately as a double-sided entity. He associates the meaning of a word with the concept (Concept) linked to the form of the word (Sing) in the minds of the speakers, thus continuing the medieval tradition.

All the models considered above are semantic models, since they are associated only with the semantic dimension of semiotics.


The value of this idea is that the meaning of a word is formed as an autonomous unit belonging to the system, and not identified either with concept (Concept) or with a thing (Referent).

Ferdinand de Saussure, the eminent twentieth-century Swiss linguist, warranted the sign character of language in his theory. The study of language as a system of signs articulating ideas holds an important place in his linguistic origin. For Saussure, the linguistic sign is “the signifier”.

In this model by Novikov, the triangle is replaced by a trapezoid and distinguishes the scientific notion of an object and lexical meaning of a word which calls this object, and also distinguishes the internal sign and the external sign.

The lexical meaning depends upon objective reality, thought (idea of an object), and the language system, which is reflected in the scheme as its relationship to the subject, scientific notion, and sign. Lexical meaning comprises of different characteristics, which are interrelated and work together among themselves. L.A. Novikov differentiates here the significative meaning, the structural, which in turn is subdivided into syntagmatic and paradigmatic, emotive, and denotative. Novikov projected however another model, which produces all the kinds of relationships that shape the structure of the sign: semantic, syntactic, pragmatic and sygmatic. Below is a modification of this model.


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