2. British English, American English and Australian English are variants of the same language, because they serve all spheres of verbal communication. Their structural peculiarities, especially morphology, syntax and word-formation, as well as their word-stock and phonetic system are essentially the same. American and Australian standards are slight modifications of the norms accepted in the British Isles. The status of Canadian English has not yet been established.
3. The main lexical differences between the variants are caused by the lack of equivalent lexical units in one of them, divergences in the semantic structures of polysemantic words and peculiarities of usage of some words on different territories.
4. The so-called local dialects in the British Isles and in the USA are used only by the rural population and only for the purposes of oral communication. In both variants local distinctions are more marked in pronunciation, less conspicuous in vocabulary and insignificant in grammar.
5. The British local dialects can be traced back to Old English dialects. Numerous and distinct, they are characterised by phonemic and structural peculiarities. The local dialects are being gradually replaced by regional variants of the literary language, i. e. by a literary standard with a proportion of local dialect features.
6. Local variations in the USA are relatively small. What is called by tradition American dialects is closer in nature to regional variants of the national literary language.
IX. Fundamentals of English Lexicography
Lexicography, the science, of dictionary-compiling, is closely connected with lexicology, both dealing with the same problems — the form, meaning, usage and origin of vocabulary units — and making use of each other’s achievements.
On the one hand, the enormous raw material collected in dictionaries is widely used by linguists in their research. On the other hand, the principles of dictionary-making are always based on linguistic fundamentals, and each individual entry is made up in accordance with the current knowledge and findings of scholars in the various fields of language study. The compiler’s approach to various lexicological problems (such as homonymy, phraseological units, etc.) always finds reflection in the selection and arrangement of the material.
MAIN TYPES OF ENGLISH DICTIONARIES
§ 1. Encyclopaedic and Linguistic Dictionaries
There are many different types of English dictionaries. First of all they may all be roughly divided into two groups — encyclopaedic and linguistic.
The two groups of reference books differ essentially in the choice of items included and in the sort of information given about them. Linguistic dictionaries are wоrd-books, their subject’ matter is lexical units and their linguistic properties such as pronunciation, meaning, peculiarities of use, etc. The encyclopaedic dictionaries, the biggest of which are sometimes called simply encyclopaedias are thing-books, that give information about the extra-linguistic world, they deal with concepts (objects and phenomena), their relations to other objects and phenomena, etc.
It follows that the encyclopaedic dictionaries will never enter items like father, go, that, be, if, black, but only those of designative character, such as names for substances, diseases, plants and animals, institutions, terms of science, some important events in history and also geographical and biographical entries.
Although some of the items included in encyclopaedic and linguistic dictionaries coincide, such as the names of some diseases, the information presented in them is altogether different. The former give much more extensive information on these subjects. For example, the entry influenza in a linguistic dictionary presents the word’s spelling and pronunciation, grammar characteristics, synonyms, etc. In an encyclopaedia the entry influenza discloses the causes, symptoms, characteristics and varieties of this disease, various treatments of and remedies for it, ways of infection, etc.
Though, strictly speaking, it is with linguistic dictionaries that lexicology is closely connected and in our further consideration we
shall be concerned with this type of reference books only, it may be useful for students of English to know that the most well-known encyclopaedias in English are The Encyclopaedia Britannica (in 24 volumes) and The Encyclopedia Americana (in 30 volumes). Very popular in Great Britain and the USA are also Collier’s Encyclopedia (in 24 vols) intended for students and school teachers, Chamber’s Encyclopaedia (in 15 vols) which is a family type reference book, and Everyman’s Encyclopaedia (in 12 vols) designed for all-round use.
Besides the general encyclopaedic dictionaries there are reference books that are confined to definite fields of knowledge, such as The Oxford Companion to English Literature, Oxford Companion to Theatre, Cassell's Encyclopaedia of World Literature, etc.
There are also numerous ‘dictionaries presenting information about notable persons (scientists, writers, kings, presidents, etc.) often called Who’s Who dictionaries.
As concept and word-meaning are closely bound up the encyclopaedic and linguistic dictionaries often overlap. Encyclopaedias sometimes indicate the origin of the word, which belongs to the domain of linguistics. On the other hand, there are elements of encyclopaedic character in many linguistic dictionaries. Some of these are unavoidable. With terms, for instance, a lexicographic definition of meaning will not differ greatly from a short logical definition of the respective concept in encyclopaedic dictionaries. Some dictionary-compilers include in their word-lists such elements of purely encyclopaedic nature as names of famous people together with their birth and death dates or the names of major cities and towns, giving not only their correct spelling and pronunciation, but also a brief description of their population, location, etc.
For practical purposes it is important to know that American dictionaries are characterised by encyclopaedic inclusion of scientific, technical, geographical and bibliographical items whereas it is common practice with British lexicographers to exclude from their dictionaries information of this kind to devote maximum space to the linguistic properties of words.
§ 2. Classification of Linguistic Dictionaries
Thus a linguistic dictionary is a book of words in a language, usually listed alphabetically, with definitions, pronunciations, etymologies and other linguistic information or with their equivalents in another language (or other languages).
Linguistic dictionaries may be divided into different categories by different criteria. According to the nature of their word-list we may speak about general diсtiоnaries, on the one hand, and restriсted, on the other. The terms general and restricted do not refer to the size of the dictionary or to the number of items listed. What is meant is that the former contain lexical units in ordinary use with this or that proportion of items from various spheres of life, while the latter make their choice only from a certain part of the word-stock, the restriction being based on any principle determined by the compiler. To restricted dictionaries belong
terminological, phraseological, dialectal word-books, dictionaries of new words, of foreign words, of abbreviations, etc.
As to the information they provide all linguistic dictionaries fall into those presenting a wide range of data, especially with regard to the ’semantic aspect of the vocabulary items entered (they are called explanatory) and those dealing with lexical units only in relation to some of their characteristics, e.g. only in relation to their etymology or frequency or pronunciation. These are termed specialised dictionaries.
Dictionaries with the same nature of word-lists may differ widely in the kind of information they afford, and the other way round, dictionaries providing data of similar nature may have a different kind of word-list. For example, dictionaries of unrestricted word-lists may be quite different in the type of information they contain (explanatory, pronouncing, etymological, ideographic, etc.), terminological dictionaries can also be explanatory, parallel, ideographic, presenting the frequency value of the items entered, etc. On the other hand, translation dictionaries may be general in their word-list, or terminological, phraseological, etc. Frequency dictionaries may have general and terminological word-lists.
All types of dictionaries, save the translation ones, may be mоnolingualor bilingual, i.e. the information about the items entered may be given in the same language or in another one.
Care should be taken not to mix up the terms monolingual and explanatory, on the one hand, and bilingual and translation dictionaries on the other. The two pairs of terms reflect different dimensions of dictionaries. The terms monolingual and bilingual* pertain to the language in which the information about the words dealt with is couched. The terms explanatory and translation dictionaries characterise the kind of information itself.
Thus among dictionaries of th3 same type, say phraseological or terminological, we may find both monolingual and bilingual word-books. For example, Kluge’s Etymologisches Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache is bilingual, but it is not its purpose to supply translation of the items entered.
It is important to realise that no dictionary, even the most general one, can be a general-purpose word-book, each one pursues a certain aim, each is designed for a certain set of users. Therefore the selection of material and its presentation, the language in which it is couched depend very much upon the supposed users, i.e. whether the dictionary is planned to serve scholarly users or students or the general public.
Thus to characterise a dictionary one must qualify it at least from the four angles mentioned above: 1) the nature of the word-list, 2) the information supplied, 3) the language of the explanations, 4) the prospective user.
Below we shall give a brief survey of the most important types of English dictionaries, both published in English-speaking countries and at home. We shall first dwell on the dictionaries that are unrestriсt-ed in their word-lists and general in the information they contain, —
on explanatory and translation dictionaries, — presented by the greatest number of word-books, then deal with word-books of restricted word-lists and with specialised dictionaries and after that with a special group of reference books, the so-called learner's dictionaries.
§ 3. Explanatory Dictionaries
Out of the great abundance of linguistic dictionaries of the English language a large group is made up of the so-called explanatory dictionaries,1 big and small, compiled in English-speaking countries. These dictionaries provide information on all aspects of the lexical units entered: graphical, phonetical, grammatical, semantic, stylistic, etymological, etc.
Most of these dictionaries deal with the form, usage and meaning of lexical units in Modern English, regarding it as a stabilised system and taking no account of its past development. They are synchronic in their presentation of words as distinct from diachronic, those concerned with the development of words occurring within the written history of the language. For instance, the New English Dictionary on Historical Principles commonly abbreviated in NED and its abridgement The Shorter Oxford Dictionary on Historical Principles (SOD) coyer the history of the English vocabulary from the days of King Alfred down to the present time; they are diachronic, whereas another abridgement of the NED — the Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English (COD) as well as H. C. Wyld's Universal Dictionary of the English Language are synchronic. Other series of authoritative synchronic explanatory dictionaries are Webster dictionaries, the Funk and Wagnalls (or Standard) dictionaries and the Century dictionaries.
It should be noted that brief remarks of historical and etymological nature inserted in dictionaries like the COD do not make them diachronic. Moreover, dictionaries of a separate historical period, such as Anglo-Saxon Dictionary by J. Bosworth and T. N. Toller, Stratmann's Middle English Dictionary by H. Bradley, which are sometimes called historical, cannot be strictly speaking referred to diachronic wordbooks. They do not trace the evolution of the language, but study a synchronic cross-section, i.e. the words of a historical period are regarded from a synchronic angle.
§ 4. Translation Dictionaries
Translation dictionaries (sometimes also called parallel) are wordbooks containing vocabulary items in one language and their equivalents in another language. Many English-Russian and Russian-English dictionaries have been made in our country to meet the demands of language students and those who use English in their work. The most representative translation dictionaries for English are the New English-Russian Dictionary edited by Prof. I. R. Galperin, the English-Russian Dictionary by Prof. V. K. Müller and The Russian-English Dictionary under prof. A. I. Smirnitsky's general direction.
1 It is common practice to call such word-books English-English dictionaries. But this label cannot be accepted as a term for it only points out that the English words treated are explained in the same language, which is typical not only of this type of dictionaries (cf. synonym-books).
§ 5. Specialised Dictionaries
Phraseological dictionaries in England and America have accumulated vast collections of idiomatic or colloquial phrases, proverbs and other, usually image-bearing word-groups with profuse illustrations. But the compilers’ approach is in most cases purely empiric. By phraseology many of them mean all forms of linguistic anomalies which transgress the laws of grammar or logic and which are approved by usage. Therefore alongside set-phrases they enter free phrases and even separate words.1 The choice of items is arbitrary, based on intuition and not on any objective criteria. Different meanings of polysemantic units are not singled out, homonyms are not discriminated, no variant phrases are listed.
An Anglo-Russian Phraseological Dictionary by A. V. Koonin published in our country has many advantages over the reference books published abroad and can be considered the first dictionary of English phraseology proper. To ensure the highest possible cognitive value and quick finding of necessary phrases the dictionary enters phrase variants and structural synonyms, distinguishes between polysemantic and homonymic phrases, shows word- and form-building abilities of phraseological units and illustrates their use by quotations.
New Words dictionaries have it as their aim adequate reflection of the continuous growth of the English language.
There are three dictionaries of neologisms for Modern English. Two of these (Berg P. A Dictionary of New Words in English, 1953; Reifer M. Dictionary of New Words, N. Y., 1955) came out in the middle of the 50s and are somewhat out-of-date. The third (A Dictionary of New English. A Barnhart Dictionary, L., 1973) is more up-to-date.
The Barnhart Dictionary of New English covers words, phrases, meanings and abbreviations which came into the vocabulary of the English language during the period 1963 — 1972. The new items were collected from the reading of over half a million running words from US, British and Canadian sources — newspapers, magazines and books.
Dictionaries of slang contain elements from areas of substandard speech such as vulgarisms, jargonisms, taboo words, curse-words, colloquialisms, etc.
The most well-known dictionaries of the type are Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English by E. Partridge, Dictionary of the Underworld: British and American, The American Thesaurus of Slang by L. V. Berry & M. Den Bork, The Dictionary of American Slang by H. Wentworth and S. B. Flexner.
Usage dictionaries make it their business to pass judgement on usage problems of all kinds, on what is right or wrong. Designed for native speakers they supply much various information on such usage problems as, e.g., the difference in meaning between words like comedy, farce and burlesque, illusionand delusion, formalityand formalism, the proper pronunciation of words like foyer, yolk, nonchalant,the plural forms of the nouns flamingo, radix,
1 E. g. A Desk-Book of Idioms and Idiomatic Phrases by F. N. Vizetelly and L. G. De Bekker includes such words as cinematograph, dear, (to) fly, halfbaked,etc.
commander-in-chief,the meaning of such foreign words as quorum, quadroon, quattrocento,and of such archaic words as yon, yclept, and so forth. They also explain what is meant by neologisms, archaisms, colloquial and slang words and how one is to handle them, etc.
The most widely used usage guide is the classic Dictionary of Modern English Usage by N. W. Fowler. Based on it are Usage and Abusage, and Guide to Good English by E. Partridge, A Dictionary of American English Usage by M. Nicholson, and others. Perhaps the best usage dictionary is A Dictionary of Contemporary American Usage by B. Evans and C. Evans. (N. Y., 1957).
Dictionaries of word-frequency inform the user as to the frequency of occurrence of lexical units in speech, to be more exact in the “corpus of the reading matter or in the stretch of oral speech on which the word-counts are based.
Most frequency dictionaries and tables of word frequencies published in English-speaking countries were constructed to make up lists of words considered suitable as the basis for teaching English as a foreign language, the so-called basic vocabulary. Such are, e.g., the E. Throndike dictionaries and M. West’s General Service List.
Other frequency dictionaries were designed for spelling reforming, for psycholinguistic studies, for an all-round synchronic analysis of modern English, etc.
In the 50s — 70s there appeared a number of frequency dictionaries of English made up by Soviet linguo-statisticians for the purposes of automatic analysis of scientific and technical texts and for teaching-purposes (in non-language institutions).
A Reverse dictionary is a list of words in which the entry words are arranged in alphabetical order starting with their final letters.
The original aim of such dictionaries was to indicate words which form rhymes (in those days the composition of verse was popular as a very delicate pastime). It is for this reason that one of the most well-known reverse dictionaries of the English language, that compiled by John Walker, is called Rhyming Dictionary of the English Language. Nowadays the fields of application of the dictionaries based on the reverse order (back-to-front dictionaries) have become much wider. These word-books are indispensable for those studying the frequency and productivity of certain word-forming elements and other problems of word-formation, since they record, in systematic and successive arrangement, all words with the same suffixes and all compounds with the same terminal components. Teachers of English and textbook compilers will find them useful for making vocabulary exercises of various kinds. Those working in the fields of language and information processing will be supplied with important initial material for automatic translation and programmed instruction using computers.
Pronouncing dictionaries record contemporary pronunciation. As compared with the phonetic characteristics of words given by other dictionaries the information provided by pronouncing dictionaries is much more detailed: they indicate variant pronunciations
(which are numerous in some cases), as well as the pronunciation of different grammatical forms.
The world famous English Pronouncing Dictionary by Daniel Jones, is considered to provide the most expert guidance on British English pronunciation. The most popular dictionary for the American variant is A Pronouncing Dictionary of American English by J. S. Kenyon and T. A. Knott.
Etymological dictionaries trace present-day words to the oldest forms available, establish their primary meanings and give the parent form reconstructed by means of the comparative-historical method. In case of borrowings they point out the immediate source of borrowing, its origin, and parallel forms in cognate languages.
The most authoritative of these is nowadays the newly-published Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology edited by С. Т. Onions.
Quite popular is the famous Etymological English Dictionary by W. W. Skeat compiled at the beginning of the century and published many times.
Ideographic dictionaries designed for English-speaking writers, orators or translators seeking to express their ideas adequately contain words grouped by the concepts expressed.
The world famous ideographic dictionary of English is P. M. Roget’s Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases.
Besides the most important and widely used types of English dictionaries discussed above there are some others, of which no account can be taken in a brief treatment like this (such as synonym-books, spelling reference books, hard-words dictionaries, etc.).
SOME BASIC PROBLEMS OF DICTIONARY-COMPILING
To get maximum efficiency from dictionaries, to secure all the information afforded by them it is useful to have an insight into the experience of lexicographers and some of the main problems underlying their work.
The work at a dictionary consists of the following main stages: the collection of material, the selection of entries and their arrangement, the setting of each entry.
At different stages of his work the lexicographer is confronted with different problems. Some of these refer to any type of dictionary, others are specific of only some or even one type. The most important of the former are 1) the selection of lexical units for inclusion, 2) their arrangement, 3) the setting of the entries, 4) the selection and arrangement (grouping) of word-meanings, 5) the definition of meanings, 6) illustrative material, 7) supplementary material.
§ 6. The Selection
of Lexical Units
It would be a mistake to think that there are big academic dictionaries that list everything and that the shorter variants are mere quantitative reductions from their basis. In reality only a dictionary of a dead language or a certain historical period of a living language or a word-book presenting the language of some author (called concordance) can be complete as
far as the repertory of the lexical units recorded in the preserved textsgoes. As to living languages with new texts constantly coming into existence, with an endless number of spoken utterances, no dictionary of reasonable size could possibly register all occasional applications of a lexical unit, nor is it possible to present all really occurring lexical items. There is, for instance, no possibility of recording all the technical terms because they are too numerous and their number increases practically every day (chemical terminology alone is said to consist of more than 400,000 terms). Therefore selection is obviously necessary for all dictionaries.
The choice of lexical units for inclusion in the prospective dictionary is one of the first problems the lexicographer faces.
First of all the type of lexical units to be chosen for inclusion is to be decided upon. Then the number of items to be recorded must be determined. Then there is the basic problem of what to select and what to leave out in the dictionary. Which form of the language, spoken or written or both, is the dictionary to reflect? Should the dictionary contain obsolete and archaic units, technical terms, dialectisms, colloquialisms, and so forth?
There is no general reply to any of these questions. The choice among the different possible answers depends upon the type to which the dictionary will belong, the aim the compilers pursue, the prospective user of the dictionary, its size, the linguistic conceptions of the dictionary-makers and some other considerations.
Explanatory and translation dictionaries usually record words and phraseological units, some of them also include affixes as separate entries. Synonym-books, pronouncing, etymological dictionaries and some others deal only with words. Frequency dictionaries differ in the type of units included. Most of them enter graphic units, thus failing to discriminate between homographs (such as backn,backadv, backv) and listing inflected forms of the same words (such as go, gone, going, goes)as separate items; others enter words in accordance with the usual lexicographic practice; still others record morphemes or collocations.
The number of entries is usually reduced at the expense of some definite strata of the vocabulary, such as dialectisms, jargonisms, technical terms, foreign words and the less frequently used words (archaisms, obsolete words, etc.).
The policy settled on depends to a great extent on the aim of the dictionary. As to general explanatory dictionaries, for example, diachronic and synchronic word-books differ greatly in their approach to the problem. Since the former are concerned with furnishing an account of the historical development of lexical units, such dictionaries as NED and SOD embrace not only the vocabulary of oral and written English of the present day, together with such technical and scientific words as are most frequently met with, but also a considerable proportion of obsolete, archaic, and dialectal words and uses. Synchronic explanatory dictionaries include mainly common words in ordinary present-day use with only some more important archaic and technical words. Naturally the bigger the dictionary, the larger is the measure of peripheral words,
the greater the number of words that are so infrequently used as to be mere museum pieces.
In accordance with the compiler’s aim the units for inclusion are drawn either from other dictionaries or from some reading matter or from the spoken discourse. For example, the corpus from which the word frequencies are derived may be composed of different types of textual material: books of fiction, scientific and technical literature, newspapers and magazines, school textbooks, personal or business letters, interviews, telephone conversations, etc.
Because of the difference between spoken and written language it is to be remembered in dealing with word-books based on printed or written matter that they tend to undervalue the items used more frequently in oral speech and to overweight the purely literary items.
§ 7. Arrangement of Entries
The order of arrangement of the entries to be included is different in different types of dictionaries and even in the word-books of the same type. In most dictionaries of various types entries are given in a single alphabetical listing. In many others the units entered are arranged in nests, based on this or that principle.
In some explanatory and translation dictionaries, for example, entries are grouped in families of words of the same root. In this case the basic units are given as main entries that appear in alphabetical order while the derivatives and the phrases which the word enters are given either as subentries or in the same entry, as run-ons that are also alphabetised. The difference between subentries and run-ons is that the former do include definitions and usage labels, whereas run-on words are not defined as meaning is clear from the main entry (most often because they are built after productive patterns).
Compare, for example, how the words despicableand despicablyare entered in the two dictionaries:
WNWD despicableadj. that is or should be despised; contemptible. despicablyadv. in a despicable manner
In synonym-books words are arranged in synonymic sets and its dominant member serves as the head-word of the entry.
In some phraseological dictionaries, e.g. in prof. Koonin’s dictionary, the phrases are arranged in accordance with their pivotal words which are defined as constant non-interchangeable elements of phrases.