English Dictionaries for Foreign Learners: A History

By A. P. Cowie | Go to book overview

1987). For instance, the second, third, and fourth editions of ALD and the first of LDOCE had included tables comparing ranks in the various armed services-- information now likely to be of dwindling interest to overseas students. LDOCE 1 had also included a diagrammatic presentation of kinship terms. However, the most significant addition to this range was the 'lexical field', included in ALD 4 as a 'note on usage'.

The description of lexical fields in ALD 4 arose directly out of a programme of lexical research, funded by OUP, and conducted at the University of Leeds in the early 1980s ( Cowie 1989d). The project had as its particular aim the analysis of lexical fields, reflecting the strong interest being shown in hierarchical word-fields by such linguists as Nida ( 1975), Lyons ( 1977), and Lehrer ( 1974). Since the research focused chiefly on verbs, in their various senses, verbs played a large part in the notes on usage eventually compiled for the dictionary.

Members of one field which later formed the basis of a usage note in ALD 4-- it comprised verbs of cutting--were verbs with the same syntactic function, and with two semantic features in common ('removal' and 'with a sharp instrument'). Most of the verbs had a superordinate term in cut or cut off. Central to the general definition of the field was the notion that either the body being made smaller, or the parts being removed, could be realized as the grammatical direct object. Compare Have you finished clipping the hedge?--where the 'body' is object--and I want to clip that picture from the magazine--where the 'part' is object. These details were incorporated as follows in the note:

(56) NOTE ON USAGE: Compare clip, pare, prune, trim and shave. The verbs refer to cutting off an unwanted part to make an object smaller, tidier, etc. Note that with all except pare the direct object can be either (a) the main body that is made smaller, smoother etc or (b) the part that is cut off. . . . Clip can relate to cutting off an unwanted part or to removing a part in order to keep it: (a) Have you finished clipping the hedge? (b) I want to clip that picture from the magazine. We prune plants to make them stronger: (a) The roses need pruning. (b) I've pruned all the dead branches off the tree.


5.7. Conclusion

During the late 1980s, EFL lexicographers kept in balance the two long- established functions of the learner's dictionary--its role as a storehouse of meanings and its role as an activator of language use and vocabulary development. The refinement of the LDOCE controlled defining vocabulary and the emergence of a new definition style from COBUILD largely favoured decoding. But the encoding function was also strengthened during this period. Devoting additional space to related pairs or groupings of words, as distinct

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English Dictionaries for Foreign Learners: A History
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Publisher's Acknowledgement v
  • Acknowledgements vi
  • Contents vii
  • List of Figures ix
  • List of Tables x
  • Abbreviations xi
  • Chronological List of Dictionaries Analysed xiii
  • Introduction 1
  • Conclusion 12
  • 1 - The Genesis of the Learner's Dictionary 14
  • 1.5. Conclusion 51
  • 2 - Phraseology and the Learner's Dictionary 52
  • 2.8. Conclusion 80
  • 3 - The Second Generation of Learners' Dictionaries 82
  • 3.1. Introduction 82
  • 3.5. Conclusion 116
  • 4.1. Introduction 118
  • 4.7. Conclusion 143
  • 5 - The Third Generation of Learners' Dictionaries 144
  • 5.1. Introduction 144
  • 5.7. Conclusion 173
  • 6 - Focus on the Dictionary User 175
  • 6. 1. Introduction 175
  • Postscript 199
  • References 201
  • Index 217
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