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||1. n a book in which words are listed alphabetically and their meanings, either in the same language or in another language, and other information about them, are givena French- English/ English- French dictionarya dictionary of science Many dictionaries are now available on C D- R O M. If you want to know how a word is spelt, look it up in a dictionary. A dictionary can also be a book which gives information about a particular subject, in which the entries are given in alphabetical order. a biographical dictionarya dictionary of quotations
||2. reference book that lists words in order and gives their meanings. In dictionaries of Western languages, the words are given in alphabetical order. In addition to its basic function of defining words, a dictionary may provide information about their pronunciation, grammatical forms and functions, etymologies, syntactic peculiarities, variant spellings and antonyms. A dictionary may also provide quotations illustrating a word's use and these may be dated to show the earliest known uses of the word in specified senses. The word comes from the Latin dictio, the act of speaking and dictionarius, a collection of words. Although they are a different type of reference work, there are encyclopaedias that use the word dictionary in their name (e.g., biographical dictionaries). Basically, a dictionary lists a set of words with information about them. The list may attempt to be a complete inventory of a language or may be only a small segment of it. A short list, sometimes at the back of a book, is often called a glossary. When a word list is an index to a limited body of writing, with references to each passage, it is called a concordance. Theoretically, a good dictionary could be compiled by organizing into one list a large number of concordances. A word list that consists of geographic names only is called a gazetteer. The word lexicon designates a wordbook, but it also has a special abstract meaning among linguists, referring to the body of separable structural units of which the language is made up. In this sense, a preliterate culture has a lexicon long before its units are written in a dictionary. Scholars in England sometimes use lexis to designate this lexical element of language. The compilation of a dictionary is lexicography; lexicology is a branch of linguistics in which, with the utmost scientific rigour, the theories that lexicographers use in the solution of their problems are developed. The common phrase dictionary order takes for granted that the alphabetical order will be followed and yet the alphabetical order has been called a tyranny that makes dictionaries less useful than they might be if compiled in some other order. The assembling of words into groups related by some principle, as by their meanings, can be done and such a work is often called a thesaurus or synonymy. Such works, however, need an index for ease of reference and it is unlikely that alphabetical order will be superseded except in specialized works. The distinction between a dictionary and an encyclopaedia is easy to state but difficult to carry out in a practical way: a dictionary explains words, whereas an encyclopaedia explains things. Because words achieve their usefulness by reference to things, however, it is difficult to construct a dictionary without considerable attention to the objects and abstractions designated. A monolingual dictionary has both the word list and the explanations in the same language, whereas bilingual or multilingual (polyglot) dictionaries have the explanations in another language or different languages. The word dictionary is also extended, in a loose sense, to reference books with entries in alphabetical order, such as a dictionary of biography, a dictionary of heraldry or a dictionary of plastics. This article, after an account of the development of dictionaries from classical times to the recent past, treats the kinds of dictionaries and their features and problems. It concludes with a brief section on some of the major dictionaries that are available. Examples for the sections on the types of dictionaries and on their features and problems are drawn primarily from the products of English lexicographers. reference book that lists words in order and gives their meanings. In dictionaries of Western languages, the words are given in alphabetic order. In addition to its basic function of defining words, a dictionary may provide information about their pronunciation, grammatical forms and functions, etymologies, syntactic peculiarities, variant spellings, conventional abbreviations and synonyms and antonyms. A dictionary may also provide quotations illustrating a word's use and these may be dated to show the earliest known uses of the word in specified senses. The word dictionary itself comes from the Latin dictio, the act of speaking and dictionarius, a collection of words. It can be said that dictionaries define words while encyclopaedias define things, though there are many encyclopaedias that use the word dictionary in their name (e.g., biographical dictionaries). The initial impetus for making dictionaries differed slightly from current principles. The early emphasis was less on making inventories of current word usage than on explaining changes or differences of meaning over centuries and among languages. Greeks in the first century AD made dictionaries to explain obsolete words from their rich literary past. Latin also was preserved in dictionaries, which were of considerable value because most scholarly work in Europe during the Middle Ages was done in Latin. So influential was one such dictionary, compiled by Ambrogio Calipino in 1502, that the name calepin was often substituted for the word dictionary. The close juxtaposition of so many languages in Europe led to the appearance of many bilingual and polyglot (multilingual) dictionaries from the early Middle Ages. Examples of certain words in the 7th and 8th centuries are the earliest records of English and for a long while, bilingual dictionaries provided the best explanations of English words. In the 16th and 17th centuries, works appeared combining French, English, Italian, Latin, Spanish and Welsh in assorted variations. These works reflect the interest in and traffic with continental European cultures and the Renaissance enthusiasm for classical literature. One result was the influx into English of many Greek- and Latin-derived words. The movement to produce an English dictionary was partly prompted by a desire for wider literacy, so that common people could read Scripture and partly by a frustration of the educated that no regularity in spelling existed for the English language. Robert Cawdrey borrowed heavily from several earlier sources to make his A Table Alphabetical (1604), a 3,000-word list considered to be the first purely English dictionary. Other notable works of the period were John Bullokar's An English Expositor (1610) and Henry Cockeram's The English Dictionarie (1623), which was the first to actually use the word in its title. Subsequent English dictionaries built on their predecessors and added innovations such as the inclusion of cant and dialect (Coles, 1676); stressing of word origins or etymology (Blount, 1656); an abridged dictionary (Kersey, 1708) and accents for pronunciation (Bailey, 1727). In general, English dictionaries were thought to be inferior to those on the continent. In 174647, with the backing of some prominent publishers, the poet and critic Samuel Johnson undertook the most ambitious English dictionary to that time and compiled a list of 43,500 words. The work was fastidious in discerning different senses for words and included 118,000 judiciously chosen illustrative quotations from the best literature of the language. Like many persons both before and after him, Johnson worried that changes in a language caused it to decay and hoped that a dictionary would check that decay. He realized as he worked that language is the work of man, of a being from whom permanence and stability cannot be derived. The makers of dictionaries, lexicographers, can only describe current and past language; they cannot prescribe its use. The spirit that recognized the changes and variations within language led to Noah Webster's dictionary of Americanisms in the early 19th century. Along the same lines was a dictionary of Scotland's language by John Jamieson that used as its source the everyday speech of common people. A further development in the 19th century was the work of philologists like Jacob Grimm and Franz Bopp, who found a systematic connection between most European languages and Sanskrit. The resulting discovery of the Indo-European family of languages changed the nature of etymology. By the end of the 19th century the immense Oxford English Dictionary (OED), meant to be a definitive inventory of the English language, was underway. Between 1879 and 1928, when it was finally finished, 15,000 pages, using 1, 827, 306 illustrative quotations, were compiled. Similar works have been completed in France, Italy and Germany. The monumental task posed by these immense inventories is updating them as the language changes. The modern dictionary remains a difficult undertaking, beginning with the task of choosing a word list that will serve its readers well. In the field of science, words are continually coming into existence and to name even all existing species of living creatures would be prohibitive (there are more than one million known insect species). Lexicographers have come to be regarded as the guardians of the language, which they are not. Language is, by nature, an ever-changing human phenomenon, but social and sometimes political pressures often force dictionary publishers to tailor word lists according to societal preferences. Pronunciation, for example, is enormously variable among speakers, but some guide is necessary because the phonetics of so many English words is variable. In general, the standard dictionary today will provide some uniformity in spelling, aid to pronunciation, a sense of a word's grammatical applications, sense meanings, illustrative quotations, a label that indicates a level of acceptability (for example, regional dialect or vulgar usage) and a word's etymology. There are various levels of dictionaries, general-purpose being most common. Scholarly dictionaries such as the second edition of the OED (1989; known as OED2) are more thorough and include exhaustive etymologies as well as obsolete words. Specialized dictionaries cover narrow fields of knowledge, though their contents are still arranged by alphabetic order. Additional reading General works Walford's Guide to Reference Material, 5th ed., vol. 3 (1991) and Eugene P. Sheehy et al., Guide to Reference Books, 10th ed (1986) and their supplements, both provide histories and scholarly evaluations of the principal current English- and foreign-language dictionaries. American Reference Books Annual, a reviewing service for reference books published in the United States, regularly includes overviews of dictionaries. Gert A. Zischka, Index Lexicorum: Bibliographie der Lexikalischen Nachschlagewerke (1959), contains an extensive bibliography of specialized dictionaries. Frances Neel Cheney and Wiley J. Williams, Fundamental Reference Sources, 2nd ed (1980), includes discussions of good dictionaries. Annie M. Brewer, Dictionaries, Encyclopedias and Other Word-Related Books, 4th ed., 2 vol (1988), is a classified catalog of about 38,000 dictionaries, encyclopaedias and similar works in English and all other languages. Tom McArthur, Worlds of Reference: Lexicography, Learning and Language from the Clay Tablet to the Computer (1986), is a readable history of reference book publishing. James Rettig (ed.), Distinguished Classics of Reference Publishing (1992), contains essays on the history and use of 32 reference books, including many mentioned in the article above. Robert L. Collison Warren E. Preece Allen Walker Read History and philosophy Historical and critical notes on English- and foreign-language works are provided in the following bibliographies: Robert L. Collison, Dictionaries of English and Foreign Languages, 2nd ed (1971): A.J. Walford and J.E.O. Screen, A Guide to Foreign Language Courses and Dictionaries, 3rd ed., rev and enlarged (1977); Wolfram Zaunmller, Bibliographisches Handbuch der Sprachwrterbcher (1958), covering the years 14601958; Library of Congress, General Reference and Bibliography Division, Foreign Language-English Dictionaries, rev. ed., 2 vol (1955) and Helga Lengenfelder (ed.), International Bibliography of Specialized Dictionaries, 6th ed (1979). The history of classical dictionaries receives an extended treatment in John Edwin Sandys, A History of Classical Scholarship, vol. 1 (1903, reissued 1967). DeWitt T. Starnes, Renaissance Dictionaries: English-Latin and Latin-English (1954), is an excellent scholarly survey.Surveys of English-language dictionaries include James A.H. Murray, The Evolution of English Lexicography (1900, reprinted 1970); Jrgen Schfer, Early Modern English Lexicography, 2 vol (1989), which comprises a survey of the period 14751640 (vol. 1) and additions and corrections to the Oxford English Dictionary (vol. 2); M.M. Mathews, A Survey of English Dictionaries (1933, reissued 1966), from the earliest times to the 19th century; James Root Hulbert, Dictionaries: British and American, rev. ed (1968), which includes material on etymology and slang and DeWitt T. Starnes and Gertrude E. Noyes, The English Dictionary from Cawdrey to Johnson, 16041755 (1946, reissued 1991). Samuel Johnson's work is specifically studied in James H. Sledd and Gwin J. Kolb, Dr. Johnson's Dictionary: Essays in the Biography of a Book (1955, reprinted 1974) and Allen Reddick, The Making of Johnson's Dictionary, 17461773 (1990). The history of the Oxford English Dictionary is traced in The History of the Oxford English Dictionary, The Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed., vol. 1 (1989), pp. xxxvlvi and Robert W. Burchfield and Hans Aarsleff, The Oxford English Dictionary and the State of the Language (1988). American dictionaries in particular are noted in Joseph H. Friend, The Development of American Lexicography, 17981864 (1967) and Eva Mae Burkett, American Dictionaries of the English Language Before 1861 (1979), covering the same period. The documents on the controversy over the Merriam-Webster Third New International Dictionary are collected by James Sledd and Wilma R. Ebbitt, Dictionaries and That Dictionary (1962). Discussions of the technical problems arising in lexicography include Fred W. Householder and Sol Saporta, Problems in Lexicography, 2nd rev. ed (1967), papers of a conference held in 1960especially practical is the paper by Clarence L. Barnhart, Problems in Editing Commercial Monolingual Dictionaries, pp. 161181; Ladislav Zgusta, Manual of Lexicography (1971); Allen Walker Read, Approaches to Lexicography and Semantics, in Thomas A. Sebeok (ed.), Current Trends in Linguistics, vol. 10, pp. 145205 (1972); the proceedings of an International Conference on Lexicography in English, published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences (1973); R.R.K. Hartmann (ed.), Lexicography: Principles and Practice (1983), a collection of papers concerned with the making of dictionaries; Ronald A. Wells, Dictionaries and the Authoritarian Tradition: A Study in English Usage and Lexicography (1973); Sidney I. Landau, Dictionaries: The Art and Craft of Lexicography (1984) and Robert Burchfield, Unlocking the English Language (1989), which discusses, among other topics, the handling by dictionary makers of religious, ethnic and racial epithets and the growing dicontinuity between American and British English. Current discussions and reviews can be found in Dictionaries (annual) and International Journal of Lexicography (quarterly). Evaluative studies Kenneth F. Kister, Kister's Best Dictionaries for Adults & Young People (1992), is an annotated, comparative guide to American and British works; while Brendan Loughridge, Which Dictionary? (1990), reviews only British dictionaries, thesauri and language guides; both contain lists of evaluation criteria.
||3. Definitive historical dictionary of the English language. It was conceived by London's Philological Society in 1857 and sustained editorial work began in 1879 under James Murray. Published in 10 volumes between 1884 and 1928, it first appeared under its current name in 1933. Its definitions are arranged mostly in order of historical occurrence and illustrated with dated quotations from English-language literature and records. Its second edition was published in 20 volumes in 1989.
||4. Reference work that lists words, usually in alphabetical order and gives their meanings and often other information such as pronunciations, etymologies and variant spellings. The earliest dictionaries, such as those created by Greeks of the 1st century AD, emphasized changes that had occurred in the meanings of words over time. The close juxtaposition of languages in Europe led to the appearance, from the early Middle Ages on, of many bilingual and multilingual dictionaries. The movement to produce an English dictionary was partly prompted by a desire for wider literacy, so that common people could read Scripture and partly by a frustration that no regularity in spelling existed in the language. The first purely English dictionary was Robert Cawdrey's A Table Alphabetical (1604), treating some 3,000 words. In 1746–47 Samuel Johnson undertook the most ambitious English dictionary to that time, a list of 43,500 words. Noah Webster's dictionary of Americanisms in the early 19th century sprang from a recognition of the changes and variations within language. The immense Oxford English Dictionary was begun in the late 19th century. Today there are various levels of dictionaries, general-purpose dictionaries being most common. Modern lexicographers (dictionary makers) describe current and past language but rarely prescribe its use.
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