Dictionary criticism

Authored by: Sandro Nielsen

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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Dictionary criticism is an activity that goes back many years and has been exercised by a wide range of different people. The criticism has thus come in many shapes and sizes with focuses that tend to reflect the personal interests of individual critics. In order to provide general guidance on critiquing dictionaries a limited number of lexicographers have discussed various issues relevant for writing critiques, for example, by proposing lists of features to look for in dictionaries or criteria to follow to express opinions about their qualities. Ripfel (1989) discusses in detail criteria for evaluating monolingual dictionaries with a focus on semantic features in German dictionaries, whereas Chan and Loong (1999) and Chan and Taylor (2001) discuss evaluation criteria for monolingual learner’s dictionaries with particular focus on morphological, phonological, syntactic, semantic and pragmatic data, and language of definitions. Pearsons and Nichols (2013) discuss a framework for evaluating online English dictionaries with a focus on usability issues and linguistic data, and Steiner (1979) provides guidelines for critiquing bilingual dictionaries mainly on the basis of their linguistic data. Despite several attempts to provide help to those who critique dictionaries, Swanepoel (2013: 594) concludes that “the whole topic of dictionary evaluation still requires extensive research.”

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