Grammatical information in dictionaries

By November 17, 2016,
AuthorEric Hoekstra
TitleGrammatical information in dictionaries
AbstractA dictionary is an encyclopaedia of linguistic information about words. It presents to a target group of laymen and professionals general information about words belonging to various disciplines of linguistics such as
· semantics (the meaning of words and phrases)
· phonology (the pronunciation of words)
· syntax (the syntactic category of words and the collocations in which they partake)
My contribution discusses the question whether (new) insights from these disciplines may change the content of dictionaries, seeing that an evaluation of these insights does not take place very often. It is a shortcoming of dictionaries that a paraphrase of the meaning of function words is often not very insightful with respect to their use (Coffey 2006).
· What is the meaning of Dutch er ‘there’?
· What is the meaning of articles like the?
· What is the meaning of the complementiser that?
Some Dutch dictionaries muddle the description of the various uses of er, ignoring the distinctions drawn by de Algemene Nederlandse Spraakkunst, the Standard Dutch Grammar (Haeseryn et al. 1997). Those distinctions are practical and well-motivated (Hoekstra 2000). It is proposed to use syntactic knowledge to structure articles about function words. In addition, dictionaries can covertly use example sentences to illustrate syntactic phenomena. Such measures strengthen the encyclopaedic character of a dictionary.
SessionHistorical and Scholarly Lexicography and Etymology
author = {Eric Hoekstra},
title = {Grammatical information in dictionaries},
pages = {1007-1012},
booktitle = {Proceedings of the 14th EURALEX International Congress},
year = {2010},
month = {jul},
date = {6-10},
address = {Leeuwarden/Ljouwert, The Netherlands},
editor = {Anne Dykstra and Tanneke Schoonheim},
publisher = {Fryske Akademy},
isbn = {978-90-6273-850-3},