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- Created 2012-02-26
(also called a
) is a collection of
in one or more specific
, often listed
radical and stroke
languages), with usage information,
, and other information; or a book of words in one language with their equivalents in another, also known as a
. According to
(2008) a dictionary may be regarded as a
product that is characterised by three significant features: (1) it has been prepared for one or more functions; (2) it contains data that have been selected for the purpose of fulfilling those functions; and (3) its lexicographic structures link and establish relationships between the data so that they can meet the needs of users and fulfill the functions of the dictionary.
A broad distinction is made between general and
. Specialized dictionaries do not contain information about words that are used in language for general purposes—words used by ordinary people in everyday situations. Lexical items that describe concepts in specific fields are usually called terms instead of words, although there is no consensus whether
are two different fields of study. In theory, general dictionaries are supposed to be
, mapping word to
, while specialized dictionaries are supposed to be
, first identifying
s and then establishing the terms used to designate them. In practice, the two approaches are used for both types. There are other types of dictionaries that don't fit neatly in the above distinction, for instance
bilingual (translation) dictionaries
, dictionaries of
dictionaries. The word dictionary (unqualified) is usually understood to refer to a monolingual general-purpose dictionary.
A different dimension on which dictionaries (usually just general-purpose ones) are sometimes distinguished is whether they are
, the latter being in theory largely based on
studies—this is the case of most modern dictionaries. However, this distinction cannot be upheld in the strictest sense. The choice of
s is considered itself of prescriptive nature; for instance, dictionaries avoid having too many taboo words in that position. Stylistic indications (e.g. ‘informal’ or ‘vulgar’) present in many modern dictionaries is considered less than objectively descriptive as well.
Although the first recorded dictionaries date back to Sumerian times (these were bilingual dictionaries), the systematic study of dictionaries as objects of scientific interest themselves is a 20th-century enterprise, called
, and largely initiated by
. The birth of the new discipline was not without controversy, the practical dictionary-makers being sometimes accused of "astonishing" lack of method and critical-self reflection.
from Wikipedia (last updated: 21 May), licensed under
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Glossary of dictionary terms
Advanced learner's dictionary
Comparison of English dictionaries
Centre for Lexicography
Monolingual learners' dictionaries
Dictionary Society of North America
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