Multilexical units and headword status. A problematic issue in recent Italian lexicography

By November 17, 2016,
AuthorCarla Marello
TitleMultilexical units and headword status. A problematic issue in recent Italian lexicography
AbstractThe paper will discuss the headword status of multilexical units in Italian monolingual dictionaries and will include a comparison of Italian and Spanish dictionaries. Twentieth century monolingual lexicographies of Romance languages recognized and registered multiword units, but did not promote them easily to headword status. Italian and Spanish monolingual lexicography in particular have very few multilexical units whereas French has a few more. The initial infiltrations through the ‘one-word headword’ wall came through Latin borrowings (alter ego ‘second self’, aut aut, ‘forced choice’, tabula rasa ‘blank sheet’), through two (or more for French) centuries of French and Anglo-American multiword borrowings entering gradually into the Italian language and then into monolingual dictionaries macrostructures (for instance ballon d'essai ‘trial balloon’, malgré lui, ‘despite him’, fair play, self-made man are XIX century borrowings; j’accuse, ‘denunciation’, au pair, best seller, on the road are XX century borrowings), and in recent decades through the macrostructures of bilingual English-Italian dictionaries where English multilexical headwords are registered and brought to the attention of Italian monolingual lexicographers as multiword units with headword status in English monolingual dictionaries. A status which might determine them becoming multilexical headwords also in Italian monolingual dictionaries. Nowadays most Italian multiwords still remain registered under oneword headwords, even adjectival or adverbial phrases which cannot occur as single words (as for instance alla carlona ‘carelessly’, a perdifiato ‘at the top of one's voice’ registered under the headword carlona, perdifiato, words with combinatorial usage only. Italian corpora can help define the confines of the multilexical unit and establish possible variations, such as widespread elliptical uses. Coherent corpus-based decisions are in turn extremely valuable not only for lexicographers, but also for POS tagging of corpora in which the multilexical units are recognized and entered as a whole in addition to the single parts.
SessionLexicological Issues of Lexicographical Relevance
author = {Carla Marello},
title = {Multilexical units and headword status. A problematic issue in recent Italian lexicography},
pages = {1347-1354},
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},