Dictionary usage research in the Internet era

Authored by: Carolin Müller-Spitzer , Alexander Koplenig , Sascha Wolfer

The Routledge Handbook of Lexicography

Print publication date:  October  2017
Online publication date:  October  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138941601
eBook ISBN: 9781315104942
Adobe ISBN:


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Linguistic dictionaries are usually compiled to support communication between speakers and writers of different languages or language varieties as well as to provide information on linguistic phenomena that might be of general interest for potential users. Therefore, dictionaries are regarded as tools. Their genuine purpose is to help solve language-related tasks. The use of lexicographic tools, and – more generally – finding solutions to language related tasks with reference works, is the topic of dictionary usage research (see e.g. Lew 2015a, Tarp 2009, Müller-Spitzer 2014a). The purpose and intent of research into dictionary use is to find out in which situations, how and, with which degree of success, etc., lexicographic tools are used. Insights based on such empirical user studies can then serve as a basis for improving future dictionaries and better adapting them to the needs of potential users. In an even broader sense, these findings can supply us with empirical data on how users try to solve language-related tasks with lexicographic aids. There are a number of diverse possibilities to collect empirical data on the use of dictionaries. We can, to name but a few, address potential users via questionnaires, we can observe users of online dictionaries via protocol data (log files) or we can track the interaction of a user with a digital dictionary in the lab.

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