Making a Thesaurus for Learners of English

By November 17, 2016,
Page 543-550
Author Diana Lea
Title Making a Thesaurus for Learners of English
Abstract This paper explains the principles and methodology behind the selection and presentation of synonyms in the Oxford Learner's Thesaurus-a dictionary of synonyms (April 2008). The needs of learners when consulting a thesaurus are different from those of native speakers: so different, in fact, that they need a completely different kind of thesaurus to consult. Native speakers have a large bank of language stored in their brains; the thesaurus, for them, is simply a means of accessing this information. It reminds them of words that they already know but cannot bring to mind. For language learners, the traditional thesaurus contains far too many words, and not nearly enough information about any of them. They need a thesaurus that will not only enable them to access information, but will also teach them things they did not know before. The first task was to decide which words to include. A conceptual framework was established, dividing the language into areas of thought and experience. Words under each heading were sorted into groups of near-synonyms. A system of frequency counting was used to order the synonyms and eliminate the less frequent. The resulting entry list was checked against a core vocabulary for learners. Then the entries had to be written. Here, the list of synonymsforming pretty much a complete entry in a traditional thesaurus-was just the beginning. Each synonym was defined and exemplified. Careful thought was given to register, usage and collocation. Notes contrast the meaning and usage of pairs or groups of words that are particularly hard to tease apart. The aim of the learner's thesaurus is to expand the learner's word bank. It both adds words to the bank, words that the learner did not even know before, and helps learners choose more effectively between words that they have met before, where their knowledge of the exact meaning and usage of the words was previously incomplete.
Session 2. The Dictionary-Making Process
author = {Diana Lea},
title = {Making a Thesaurus for Learners of English},
pages = {543-550},
booktitle = {Proceedings of the 13th EURALEX International Congress},
year = {2008},
month = {jul},
date = {15-19},
address = {Barcelona, Spain},
editor = {Elisenda Bernal, Janet DeCesaris},
publisher = {Institut Universitari de Linguistica Aplicada, Universitat Pompeu Fabra},
isbn = {978-84-96742-67-3},