|Title||Dictionary, lexicon, glossary, wordbook or thesaurus? The usefulness of OALDCE7 and OLT for choosing the right word|
|Abstract||Monolingual English learners’ dictionaries (MLDs) published in recent years have many features which make them better suited to the needs of the target user group. Among others, onomasiology has slipped into their design. Today, MLDs typically list synonyms and antonyms, or even offer synonym notes, where words close in meaning are compared and contrasted. On the other hand, thesauri have also changed. The year 2008 witnessed the publication of the Oxford Learner’s Thesaurus: A Dictionary of Synonyms, which goes beyond clustering words close in meaning. It defines each synonym, exemplifies its usage, and even juxtaposes selected synonyms in special notes.
The aim of the present study is to investigate the usefulness of the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English (7th edition, OALDCE7) and the Oxford Learner’s Thesaurus (OLT) for discriminating between synonyms. The paper is underpinned by empirical research, in which 73 advanced learners of English took part. In the experiment, words appropriate for given contexts had to be indicated in different synonym sets. The results reveal that neither dictionary significantly shortened the time needed to complete the task. Nonetheless, the use of OLT much more often resulted in successful synonym selection. Interestingly, synonym notes, present in both dictionaries, did not affect the subjects’ choices. Besides, different information was usually referred to in the two dictionaries. In OALDCE7 the subjects paid attention most often to definitions, while in OLT – to examples. The results of the supplementary questionnaire suggest that the students’ familiarity with the two dictionary types could not have affected their performance. They were nonetheless more satisfied with their results when they had OLT at their disposal rather than OALDCE7. Yet, they were critical of the arrangement of synonyms in the OLT synonym clusters, where the alphabetical order, rather than frequency, would be a better solution.