How does a Dictionary Describe a Language?

By November 17, 2016,
Page 1213-1218
Author Pius ten Hacken
Title How does a Dictionary Describe a Language?
Abstract It is common for monolingual dictionaries to state that they are a dictionary of the English (French, etc.) language. This raises the question as to what interpretation of language is meant in this context. Reference is often made to the use of a corpus. However, a corpus can never constitute the language being described. The lexicographer has to decide which occurrences in a corpus are errors and which reflect playful use of expressions not literally used in the text. The issue can be clarified by using Chomsky's distinctions between competence and performance and between I-language and E-language. Neither competence/I-language nor performance offer a viable notion of language that can be described in a dictionary of the English language. Although Chomsky considers E-language a problematic concept, it is shown that it can be used in the context of lexicography if we consider lexicography an instance of applied science.
author = {Pius ten Hacken},
title = {How does a Dictionary Describe a Language? },
pages = {1213-1218},
booktitle = {Proceedings of the 12th EURALEX International Congress},
year = {2006},
month = {sep},
date = {6-9},
address = {Torino, Italy},
editor = {Elisa Corino, Carla Marello, Cristina Onesti},
publisher = {Edizioni dell'Orso},
isbn = {88-7694-918-6},