Modern Lexicography: An Introduction

Modern Lexicography: An Introduction

Modern Lexicography: An Introduction

Modern Lexicography: An Introduction

Excerpt

Time was., not so long ago, when it was usual to start a book on lexicography or on lexis by lamenting the dearth of lexical studies and the disregard of most modern linguists for semantics in general and for words in particular. The complaints were never totally justified, at least as far as lexicography is concerned: Britain, France, and the United States have always been prolific in the production of dictionaries. It is true that lexicology has been the poor relation of linguistics, in the sense that linguists who were interested in lexis were often looked down upon by their colleagues. But the interest for lexis has always been alive, even when and where structuralist linguists were of the opinion that semantics was not part of lin- guistics. Whatever the situation was, it is clear that things have been improving consistently everywhere, and that the improvement is accelerating. The decade between 1975 and 1985 has been called 'a decade of the lexicon' (Nowakowski 1990: 3).

The last twenty years have been particularly rich for lexicography: never before have so many dictionaries been published, and never before has so much literature about dictionaries—what has come to be called 'metalexicography'—been produced. Several specialized journals of lexicography have been launched, a large number of specialized conferences organized, and some publishers even have special series of metalexicographical books. One manifestation of the new enthusiasm is the publication of a three-volume, three- language (German, English, and French) and 3,300-page Encyclopedia of Lexicography, which contains 340 contributions from 248 special- ists from all over the world (Hausmann et al. 1989,1990, and 1991).

Since 1989, when the first version of this book was written, the lexicographical scene may have become slightly more gloomy. Publishers have recently complained, at least in Britain, that dictio- naries no longer sell as well as they used to. But dictionaries are certainly not on their way out. Reference books in general still sell fairly well, mostly in their traditional paper versions that we are all . . .

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