Free «Lexicography» Essay Sample

According to Jackson (2002), A dictionary is a reference book about words defining things, people, places, and ideas, actually we can say dictionary is a book about the ‘real world’ (p. 21). Lexicography on the other hand is the process in which linguistic information is recorded, processed and compiled in a particular lexicographical system. The outcome of the lexicographical process is typically a wordlist, glossary, dictionary, thesaurus or electronic databank. This process involves recording of the words in the dictionary of the language into a precise standardized format for example alphabetically. Lexicography has two fundamental components which includes; first is the theoretical component which consists of the common principles of the applied science theoretical principles which are foundation for the general custom and expert principles; second is the practical component which deals with the applied science of collection and editing of dictionaries.

Richard Oliver Collins says in his paper “the politics of writing system” that while estimates vary, there are still perhaps five thousand separate and mutually unintelligible languages spoken in the world, although this number is falling dramatically as small languages are globalized into extinction by larger and more aggressive speech communities.

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Slightly linguists have been reacting against traditional philology, in which scholars drew their attention on written texts which were seen as “correct,” in contrast to the impropriety of speech (Coulmas 2000, p. 59). As Steven (1994), MIT’s Noam Chomsky has emphasized the primacy of spoken language, arguing that the capacity for speech is hard-wired into our brains, the essence of what makes us human (P.14).   He also has claimed, “… writing is clearly an optional accessory; the real engine of verbal communication is the spoken language we acquired as children” (p. 16).  According to Harris (2000) Linguists have observed that all human societies speak, but only some write Script is a relatively recent invention in historical terms, dating back perhaps a mere 5,000 years, and widespread literacy is today found primarily in economically-advanced societies (p. 11). Indeed, many linguists use the phrase “visible speech” to suggest that writing is nothing more than a transcription of what we say.

Many people are concerned about how new words gets into dictionary or what makes some words to be removed. Many users wonder are the rules that apply in editing the dictionary. As explained in “Dictionary dynamics” article when we discuss the logic that dictates which words should go in and which should stay out leads to a real understanding of the principles involved in compiling a dictionary. It also helps in appreciating of what is descriptive and what is prescriptive dictionary and determines condition which is most appropriate to either of these.

 Prescriptive dictionary are mostly referred to as educational dictionary because it give detailed dictation on number of grounds. It shapes the headword list to best suit to the needs of student according to their age and specific studies they are under taking. Prescriptive dictionary have legitimate function first in differentiating many words in dictionary from new word can be derived.  It is wisely advisable for student to look for these words from many various contexts. But the main question is how does a word get into the dictionary?

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In the process of adding new words editors first of all research to find whatever other evidence they can, for the existence of the word. This process has been known to be very slow and difficult because it involves reading of many texts by as many people as possible. There are several options available to the dictionary editor these days with many sources of text and they can be accessed easily online. These sources includes but not limited to; newspapers, books, sites devoted to different topics and activities, government records, and so on. With these examples student is in a position of writing the definition because it is usually easier to work out from an analysis of the word in context of what it means rather than relying on your own knowledge or understanding of the word.

Even after research is done enough citation is needed before a new word can be added to the dictionary. This is essential because it shows that such word is widely used and thus it is easily acceptable. However having a lot of citations is not only requirement; actually, a large number of citations might complicate things especially in defining the word. This is an issue due to the fact that many citations show too little about the meaning of a word to be helpful. When all citations come from a single source, the new word in most cases is not entered into the general dictionary. Also this might happen if all citations are from highly specialized publications that presents jargon from within the area of expertise.

Different words require different number of citation in order for them to be added to the dictionary. Though there are some rare cases in which a word jumps onto the scene and is both instantaneously established and likely to last, a good example of such words is the case of “AIDS” which was established in the 1980s. In such a situation, the editors agree on that the word has become definitely established in a relatively short time and it deserves to be entered in the dictionary, even if its citations may not span the wide range of years demonstrated by other words.

For the word to be generally accepted by everyone its use needs to be established over a period of time. For those words which have a short life in the community there are special dictionaries which deals such word to protect their interest This is due to the fact that historically these words often mark some fleeting interest. But general dictionaries are liable for reasons of space to bind themselves to words which have become a fundamental part of the language.

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Changes in existing content or words in the dictionary are also made. Some word and their usage are criticized and even some words end up being dropped from the dictionary. Finegan says in his book “Linguistic, Lexicography, and attitudes toward usage Usage During the last decade ” there is no need to rehearse the criticism accorded the treatment of usage in Webster’s Third new International Dictionary during the years following its publication in 1961 (p. 20). He continue to argue that it is instructive to recognize that the rash of desk dictionaries during very recent years may well represent a reaction to the treatment of usage in webster’s Third, widely stigmatized as too permissive.

The aim of selection and definition process is to establish not just the individual's idea of the word, but the community's use of it. It also determines that what is presented is what is held to be the word's meaning by the language community, it is essential to collect as much evidence as is needed to launch that use. The most remarkable variation between the earlier dictionaries and the Random house Dictionary of the English language of 1966 is presence of “usage Note” with the entry for each item on the standard roster of contentious usages.

According to Ackema & Neeleman (2004) regularities in word formation are the result of language learners being able to make inductive generalizations over sets of lexica items. Therefore Ackema & Neeleman (2004) stated that “this view proposes that morphology is a system that makes memorization of existing words more economical” (p. 18). They also researched that morphology can be used as a generative system that defines grammatical word structures. This generative system determines what new complex words can be added to the lexicon. Ackema & Neeleman (2004) further said that the modules of syntax, semantics and phonology each contain a sub-module that generates phrasal representations and a sub-module that generates word level representations. Ackema & Neeleman thus continue to say that the hypothesis that morphology and syntax compete has the consequence that if a merger of two elements results in a predictable semantics and neither of the elements is a affix then the merger of the two elements used will be syntactic rather than morphological (2004).

When the process of word formation does not involve root compounding then it is predicted to have unpredictable semantics, and if on the other hand the process of word formation is semantically transparent then it must involve affixation (Ackema & Neeleman, 2004). Ackema & Neeleman also said that “it must be possible to integrate the structures generated by the morphological syntactic sub-modules, given the obvious fact that sentences may contain complex words” (p. 10). At the same time they noted that it is important to note that the proposed model of grammar may at some times disallow certain kinds of interaction between morphology and syntax (Ackema & Neeleman, 2004).

Morphology can influence the syntax or syntax may influence morphology, but according to Ackema & Neeleman (2004) it can only do so indirectly, through the features that are matched in the insertion process. On the other hand if syntax cannot directly influence morphology, certain kinds of logically possible conditions on morphological rules are correctly excluded (Ackema & Neeleman, 2004). Kreidler (2001) said that the phonological system of a language contains the units that speakers of the language can distinguish, produce, and combine to express meaningful units, morphemes. He thus says lexical phonology is derived from generative phonology but uses an older distinction between word phonology and sentence phonology (Kreidler, 2001).

In conclusion we can generally agree that people often find words in dictionaries of their own language to get an precise definition or the spelling of the word. On the other hand speakers of foreign languages require definitions so that when they communicate can apply the words correctly. Some words have very close meanings but native speaker should use the correct words definition to distinguish it from any other similar meaning by another word. Also we can generally view the lexicography as mainly applied in identification of the meaning of words and basis the analysis of the word on the frequency. Eventually the framing is done and meaning decided which is represented in the dictionary.

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