The Different Ways of Describing Meaning in Monolingual Dictionaries
Seminar paper from the year 2014 in the subject English Language and Literature Studies - Linguistics, grade: 1,0, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg (Institut für Anglistik / Sprachwissenschaft), language: English, abstract: In his textbook 'Lexical Semantics', D. A. Cruse defines dictionaries as follows: 'An ordinary dictionary characterises a lexical item in three distinct, though intimately inter-connected, ways: first, its form (graphic and phonological); second, its grammatical function; and third, its meaning.' (1986: 1) The biggest challenge for dictionaries usually lies in the latter: the description of mean-ing. Readers of dictionaries may have different backgrounds of knowledge and a dis-tinct vocabulary, so their understanding of definitions may vary greatly. Bilingual dic-tionaries have an easier time facing this challenge. They simply state the translation for a lexical unit. Monolingual dictionaries, however, need to find ways to adequately and comprehensively describe meaning, with different target groups in mind. The following paper will discuss which methods dictionaries use to describe meaning. A special emphasis will be put on monolingual dictionaries and their approach to bringing meaning across to learners of English, who naturally draw on a limited vocabulary and thus may require innovative methods for the description of meaning.
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