Lexicography: An Introduction

Lexicography: An Introduction

Lexicography: An Introduction

Lexicography: An Introduction


This book is an accessible introduction to lexicography - the study of dictionaries.Dictionaries are used at home and at school, cited in law courts, sermons and parliament, and referred to by crossword addicts and scrabble players alike. Lexicography provides a detailed overview of the history, types and content of these essential references. Howard Jackson analyses a wide range of dictionaries, from those for native speakers to thematic dictionaries and those on CD-ROM, to reveal the ways in which dictionaries fulfil their dual function of describing the vocabulary of English and providing a useful and accessible reference resource.Beginning with an introduction to the terms used in lexicology to describe words and vocabulary, and offering summaries and suggestions for further reading, Lexicography: An Introduction is highly student-friendly. It is ideal for anyone with an interest in the development and use of dictionaries.


Much has happened, both in respect of the making of dictionaries and in respect of their academic study, in the twelve or so years since my previous book on dictionaries (Words and Their Meaning, Longman, 1988). Then, the ‘corpus revolution’ (Rundell and Stock 1992) had only just begun - Words and Their Meaning just managed to catch the first (1987) edition of the Collins COBUILD English Dictionary. Now virtually all dictionaries published in the UK make some claim to have used a computer corpus in their compilation. Not only have learners’ dictionaries developed by leaps and bounds - the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary was in its third edition then, now in its sixth, and the Cambridge International Dictionary of English was still a long way off - but native speaker dictionaries have also seen significant developments - the publication of the New Oxford Dictionary of English in 1998, as well as three editions of the Concise Oxford, not to mention the second edition of the great OED in 1989 and the beginning of the massive revision that will result in the third edition, planned for 2010.

Dictionaries have also appeared during the period in electronic format, notably as CD-ROMs, opening up new possibilities, not only in how dictionaries can be used and exploited, but also in how dictionary material can be organised and presented. Dictionaries are also accessible online, through the internet, including the OED, enabling subscribers to view the revisions that will constitute the third edition, as they are posted quarterly.

The study of lexicography has also developed and flourished during the last dozen years. They saw the launch of the highly successful International Journal of Lexicography in 1988, for the first ten years under the editorship of Robert Ilson, and latterly that of Tony Cowie. The mighty three-volume Encyclopedia of Lexicography (Hausmann et al. 1989-91) delineated the state of the art, and the Dictionary of Lexicography (Hartmann and James 1998) mapped the territory. More recently, Reinhard Hartmann’s Teaching and Researching Lexicography (2001) has set the agenda for the business of academic lexicography. And Sidney Landau has updated his readable Dictionaries: The Art and Craft of Lexicography (second edition, 2001) with its transatlantic perspective.

It is time for a new treatment of the subject in the UK. I am grateful to Louisa Semlyen and to Routledge for taking this on. The book is dedicated to all the

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