Lexicology of the English Language

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In 1933 the dictionary was republished under the title The Oxford English Dictionary, because the work on the dictionary was conducted in Oxford. This dictionary contained 13 volumes. As the dictionary was very large and terribly expensive scientists continued their work and compiled shorter editions of the dictionary: A Shorter Oxford Dictionary consisting of two volumes. It had the same number of entries, but far less examples from literature. They also compiled A Concise Oxford Dictionary consisting of one volume and including only modern words and no examples from literature.

The American lexicography began to develop much later, at the end of the 18-th century. The most famous American English dictionary was compiled by Noah Webster. He was an active stateman and public man and he published his first dictionary in 1806. He went on with his work on the dictionary and in 1828 he published a two-volume dictionary. He tried to simplify the English spelling and transcription. He introduced the alphabetical system of transcription where he used letters and combinations of letters instead of transcription signs. He denoted vowels in closed syllables by the corresponding vowels, e.g. / a/, /e/, / i/, / o/, /u/. He denoted vowels in the open syllable by the same letters, but with a dash above them,e.g. / a/, /e/, /i/, /o/, /u/. He denoted vowels in the position before /r/ as the same letters with two dots above them, e.g. / a/, /o/ and by the l etter e with two dots above it for the combinations er, ir, ur because they are pronounced identically. The same tendency is preserved for other sounds : /u:/ is denoted by /oo/, /y/ is used for the sound /j/ etc.

Classification of dictionaries

All dictionaries are divided into linguistic and encyclopedic dictionaries. Encyclopedic dictionaries describe different objects, phenomena, people and give some data about them. Linguistic dictionaries describe vocabulary units, their semantic structure, their origin, their usage. Words are usually given in the alphabetical order.

Linguistic dictionaries are divided into general and specialized . To general dictionries two most widely used dictionaries belong: explanatory and translation dictionaries. Specialized dictionaries include dictionaries of synonyms, antonyms, collocations, word-frequency, neologisms, slang, pronouncing, etymological, phraseological and others.

All types of dictionaries can be unilingual ( excepting translation ones) if the explanation is given in the same language, bilingual if the explanation is given in another language and also they can be polilingual.

There are a lot of explanatory dictionaries (NED, SOD, COD, NID, N.G. Wylds Universal Dictionary and others). In explanatory dictionaries the entry consists of the spelling, transcription, grammatical forms, meanings, examples, phraseology. Pronunciation is given either by means of the International Transcription System or in British Phonetic Notation which is different in each large dictionary, e.g. /o:/ can be indicated as / aw/, /or/, /oh/, /o/. etc.

Translation dictionaries give words and their equivalents in the other language. There are English-Russian dictionaries by I.R. Galperin, by Y.Apresyan and others. Among general dictionaries we can also mention Learners dictionaries. They began to appear in the second half of the 20-th century. The most famous is The Advanced Learners Dictionary by A.S. Hornby. It is a unilingual dictionary based on COD, for advanced foreign learners and language teachers. It gives data about grammatical and lexical valency of words. Specialized dictionaries of synonyms are also widely used, one of them is A Dictionary of English Synonyms and Synonymous Expressions by R.Soule. Another famous one is Websters Dictionary of Synonyms. These are unilingual dictionaries. The best known bilingual dictionary of synonyms is English Synonyms compiled by Y. Apresyan.

In 1981 The Longman Lexicon of Contemporary English was compiled, where words are given in 14 semantic groups of everyday nature. Each word is defined in detail, its usage is explained and illustrated, synonyms, antonyms are presented also. It describes 15000 items, and can be referred to dictionaries of synonyms and to explanatory dictionaries.

: 21/06/2009