An Introduction to Lexicography
Lexicology and lexicography

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1.1 Lexicology and Lexicography
Both lexicology and lexicography are derived from the Greek work lexiko (adjective from lexis meaning 'speech', or 'way of speaking' or 'word'). The common concern of both of them is 'word' or the lexical unit of a language. Lexicology is derived from lexico 'word' plus logos 'learning or science' i.e. the science of words. Lexicography is lexico 'word' plus graph 'writing' i.e. the writing of words. The etymological meaning of these words speaks for itself the scope of these branches of linguistics. Lexicology is the science of the study of word whereas lexicography is the writing of the word in some concrete form i.e. in the form of dictionary. As we shall see later, lexicology and lexicography are very closely related, rather the latter is directly dependent on the former and may be called applied lexicology.

As already noted, both lexicology and lexicography have a common subject 'word'. The sum total of all the words of a language forms the vocabulary or lexical system of a language. The words of a language are like constellations of stars in the firmament. Every word although having its own independent entity is related to others both paradigmatically and syntagmatically. The paradigmatic relations are based on the interdependence of words within the lexical system. The syntagmatic relations show the relation of words in the patterns of arrangement. In other words the vocabulary of a language is not a chaos of diversified phenomena but consists of elements which, though independent, are related in some way. A word has a particular meaning, it has a particular group of sounds, and a particular grammatical function. As such it is a semantic, phonological and grammatical unit. Lexicology studies a word in all these aspects i.e. the patterns of semantic relationship of words as also their phonological, morphological and contextual behaviour. Words undergo constant change in their form and meaning and lexicology studies the vocabulary of a language in terms of its origin, development and current use. The study of the interrelationship of lexical units is done in terms of the contrasts and similarities existing between them.

As a word does not occur in isolation, lexicology studies it with its combinative possibilities. And thus the scope of lexicology includes the study of phraseological units, set combinations etc.

Like general linguistics, of which lexicology is a branch, lexicology can be both historical and descriptive, the former dealing with the origin and development of the form and meaning of the lexical units in a particular languages across time and the latter studying the vocabulary of a language as a system at a particular point of time. But there are many areas in lexicology, where one cannot be studied in isolation, without regard to the other. They are, thus, interdependent.

The lexicological studies can be of two types, viz., general and special. General lexicology is concerned with the general features of words common to all languages. It deals with something like universals in language. Special lexicology on the other hand studies the words with reference to one particular language.

Lexicological studies can be, further, of comparative and contrastive type wherein the lexical systems of two languages are studies from a contrastive point of view.

Lexicology fulfills the needs of different branches of applied linguistics, viz., lexicography, stylistics, language teaching, etc.

As the vocabulary or the lexical system of a language forms a system of the language as other systems, its study in lexicology should not be separated from the other constituents of the system. So lexicology is closely related to phonetics and grammar.

The relation between phonetics and lexicology is very important. Words consist of phonemes, which, although not having meaning of their own, serve in formation of morphemes, the level where meaning is expressed. So they serve to distinguish between meanings. Moreover, meaning itself is indispensable for phonemic analysis. The difference of meaning in /pIt/ and /pUt/ helps in the fixation of the phonemes /I/ and /U/. Historical phonetics helps in the study of polysemy, homonymy and synonymy.

The link between lexicology and grammar is also very close. Each word has a relation in the grammatical system of a language and belongs to some parts of speech. Lexicology studies this relationship in terms of the grammatical meanings as also their relationship with the lexical meaning. In the field of word formation, lexicology is still more closely related to grammar. Both study the patterns of word formation.

Language is a social phenomenon. The study of language cannot be divorced from the study of the social system and the development in society. The development and progress in the social, political and technological system is manifest in the vocabulary of a language. New words are introduced and old words die out. New meanings are added to words and old meanings are dropped out. Lexicology studies the vocabulary of a language from the sociological points also.

Lexicography also studies the lexicon as lexicology does but "whereas lexicology concentrates more on general properties and features that can be viewed as systematic, lexicography typically has the so to say individuality of each lexical unit in the focus of its interest". (Zgusta 1973, 14). Lexicography has been generally defined as the writing or compiling1 of a lexicon or dictionary, the art or practice of writing dictionaries or the science of methods of compiling dictionaries. The word was used as early as 1680. (Oxford English Dictionary/Lexicography).

In lexicology the word is studied as a part of the system. In lexicography it is studied as an individual unit in respect of its meaning and use from the practical point of its use by the reader of the dictionary for learning the language or comprehending texts in it or for any other purpose like checking correct spelling, pronunciation etc. A word may have different and varied characteristic, all of which may not be needed by a lexicographer. His work is guided more by the purpose of the dictionary and the type of the audience. He presents the words of the lexical system in a way so as to make it more practically useable in real life situation i.e. in actual speech. For example lexicology may give the theoretical basis for enumerating different meanings of a polysemous word, but how these meanings are worded and presented in the dictionary is governed by the practical problems of utility of the dictionary for different types of readers. The aim of lexicology is to study the vocabulary of a language as a system, so the treatment of individual units may not claim to be complete because the number of units is very larger. Its goal is systematization in the study as a whole but not completeness as regards individual units. So it cannot claim to be a perfectly systematic treatment. Here, every entry is treated as an independent problem. Lexicologists present their material in sequence according to their view of the study of vocabulary. The lexicographers are mostly guided by the principle of convenience in retrieval of the data and arrange words usually in alphabetical order.

Lexicology provides the theoretical basis of lexicography. The lexicographer although knowing all the semantic details of a lexical unit might, at times, have to take such decisions and include such features in the definition which might be his own observations. In lexicology the study of words is objective, governed by the theories of semantics and word formation. There is no scope for individual aberrations. In lexicography, in spite of all the best attempts on the part of the lexicographer, many a definition become subjective, i.e. they are not free from the bias of the dictionary maker. (cf. the meaning of oats in Johnson's Dictionary.)

General lexicology deals with the universal features of the words of languages. In this sense lexicology is not language specific, whereas lexicography is more or less language specific in spite of its universal theoretical background. Its theories have no other validation except for practical applicability in the compilation of a dictionary.

Whereas lexicology is more theory oriented, lexicography is more concerned with concrete application (i.e. results) of these theories. So "in a certain sense lexicography may be considered a superior discipline to lexicology, for results are more important than intentions and the value of theoretical principles must be estimated according to results". (Doroszewski 1973, 36).

Lexicography is the science and art of compiling dictionary. The word 'dictionary' was first used as Dictionarius in this sense in the 13th century by an English man John Garland. The word Dictionarium was used in the 14th century. The first book published under the English title Dictionary was Latin-English Dictionary by Sir Thomas Elyot (1538). For a medieval scholar a dictionary was a collection of diction or phrases put together for the use of pupils studying Latin. One of the purposes of dictionary in medieval times was glossing texts and employing synonyms for them.

Dictionaries are prepared to serve different practical needs of the people. A reader looks at the dictionary mainly from the following points of view: -
(1) as a reference book for different types of information on words e.g. pronunciation, etymology, usage etc. this may be called the store house function of the dictionary.
(2) as a reference point for distinguishing the good or proper usage from the bad or wrong usage. This is the legislative or the court house function of the dictionary2.

Johnson (1755) described the lexicographer as "a writer of dictionaries. ……a harmless drudge that busies himself in tracing the original and detailing the signification of word". Little did he realize at that time that his dictionary would, for almost a century, serve as the 'Bible' of the English language, the second function noted above.

Besides these a dictionary also serves as a clearing house of information. In order that these functions be performed adequately, the information in the dictionaries should be collected from as many sources as possible, and should be authentic and easily retrievable. Lexicography in this way is an applied science.

1.2 Lexicography and Linguistics: as already noted, the basic concern of lexicography is 'word' which is studied in different branches of linguistics, viz, phonetics, grammar, stylistics etc. Lexicography is not only related to linguistics but is an applied discipline under it. The practical problems of lexicography are solved by the application of the researches of linguistic works. As we shall see below, in his entire work from the selection of entries, fixation of head words, the definition of words to the arrangement of meanings and entries, the lexicographer is helped by the work of different branches of linguistics.

One of the most widely accepted criteria for selection of entries in many dictionaries is usually frequency count. The frequency of head words the lexicographer usually chooses the canonical or the most frequently occurring form of a word. This is found out from the grammatical study of the language. For written languages and languages with established grammatical traditions the problem of selection of the head word is not so difficult as in the case of unwritten languages. Here the lexicographer has to be his own linguist and have recourse to the linguistic analysis of the language. For data collection he takes the help of field linguistics and for analysis, of descriptive linguistics. For giving definitions of flora and fauna as also of artifacts and other cultural items the lexicographer gives encyclopaedic information. For this the principle of the hierarchical structure of the vocabulary in terms of folk taxonomy is utilized by a lexicographer. Thus he enters the domain of ethnolinguistics.

For giving spellings and pronunciation of words in his dictionary the lexicographer is helped by the phonetic study of the language. For grammatical information he has to depend on the morphological analysis of the language.

In the determination of the central meaning of a polysemous word the lexicographer is helped by historical linguistics. Etymology gives him the clue to decide the basic meaning. In the fixation of the number of meanings and their interrelationship the lexicographer has to take recourse to the linguistic methods of set collocations, valency and selective restrictions etc.

Historical linguistics helps in tracing the origin and development of the form and meaning of the words in historical dictionaries. In descriptive dictionaries such labels as archaic, obsolete etc., denoting the temporal status of words, are decided with the help of historical linguistics. Historical linguistics, especially etymological study, helps in distinguishing between homonymy and polysemy. But where etymological consideration is not applicable for want of such studies it is the native speaker's intuition which is taken as the determining factor. In this the lexicographer is helped by psycholinguistics. Psycholinguistics also helps in providing material for vocabulary development which might be used for the preparation of the graded dictionaries.

Dictionaries give status labels like slang, jargon, taboo, figurative, formal, graamya (vulgar) etc. These labels are decided with the help of sociolinguistic and stylistic studies.

For dialect dictionaries dialectology is a necessary helpmate.

A basic prerequisite of bilingual dictionaries is a contrastive analysis of the linguistic systems of the two languages. This is provided by contrastive linguistics.

All this shows that in his work the lexicographer has, to a large extent, always to depend on the findings of different branches of linguistics. But this is not so in actual life. Lexicographical works had preceded grammatical works in many languages. It is not only the findings of linguistics which help in the solution of lexicographical problems, the lexicographical findings are equally utilized by the linguists for different purposes of authenticating their hypothesis, in helping standardization of the languages, especially in the fields of technical terminologies.

The problems of a lexicographer are practical and need based requiring at-the-moment solution. The lexicographer cannot wait for certain findings in the field of linguistics or other disciplines for the solution of his problems. It is here that linguistics might fail to meet the needs of a lexicographer. There are different schools of linguistics vying with each other in theoretical researches. The findings of one school are contradicted by the other. There are different studies on the same aspect of a language. Nothing is final. The lexicographer might not afford to wait for the final word to come. Moreover, many languages still remain uninvestigated. So the lexicographer has to find his own way. In his entire work, the lexicographer is guided by the practical considerations of a dictionary user. The linguistic theories are quite important for the lexicographer but practical utility is more basic for him. As rightly put forward by Urdang "Lexicography, in practice is a form of applied linguistics and although more theoreticians would be a welcome addition to the field, they must remember that their theories should be interpretable above all in terms of practicality." (Urdang, 1963, 594)

1.3 Lexicon and Grammar: the relation between lexicon and grammar has been discussed differently. Bloomfield considers grammar and lexicon (dictionary) as two parts of linguistic description and remarks "lexicon is really an appendix of the grammar, a list of basic irregularities". (Bloomfield 1933, 274)3. His statement seems to be inspired by the fact that grammar takes care of all the regular and predictable forms of the language whereas dictionary gives all the irregular and unpredictable forms as also forms with irregular and unpredictable meanings. In other words, it deals with the individual idiosyncracies of a language. The dictionary gives irregular plurals, irregular forms of verbs and other unpredictable forms in the paradigm of the lexical unit. It does not enter regular inflected forms but gives derivational forms. (See 5.4). it gives all the lexical units of a language because the relation between the form and the meaning is not predictable. It is arbitrary. It is in this sense that Bloomfield calls dictionary an appendix of grammar and a list of basic irregularities.

As a matter of fact, there can be no strict separation of the two in terms that the dictionary is concerned with words only, or the grammar is concerned with forms and the dictionary with meaning. (Gleason 1967, 90). Actually the grammatical rules also give or are supposed to include the meaning of constructions. The dictionary gives different grammatical categories of the lexical entry along with its meaning and use.

The basic difference between the lexicon and the grammar lies in respect of their being open-ended and close-ended. The grammatical rules of a language are internalized by an individual by the age of five or six years. Practically little is added to the grammatical structure afterwards. On the contrary, the acquisition of vocabulary is an ongoing and continuous process and lasts only at the time of death. Every day a new lexical item is added to the lexicon (the inbuilt dictionary - the lexical stock of a language an individual speaker of a language has in himself.) the lexicon is constantly changing. New words are added, some old words are dropped while some others are modified in their signification.

Gleason 1967, 93-94) describes the relationship between grammar and lexicon as that of class and member. Grammar sets up classes and studies relationship between them. Dictionary deals with individual isolated items, words and morphemes called members and identifies the class to which a member belongs.

1.4 Practical and theoretical dictionaries: distinction should be made here between the practical and the theoretical (generative) dictionaries. The practical dictionary is the flesh and blood dictionary compiled by the lexicographer and consulted by the readers for different purposes. The description of this dictionary is the subject matter of this book. The theoretical dictionary is the inbuilt dictionary of an individual speaker of a language. It represents the semantic competence of the person and comprises the total stock of the words a person has acquired in his life. The speaker has this dictionary as an equipment enabling him to chose and use appropriate words in different structures and contexts. The theoretical dictionary or the lexicon of an individual is always changing. Either new words are added, or some words are dropped or some new meanings are added to the existing words because of the needs of communication. It is in this sense that the lexicon is called an open-ended set.

Another difference between the practical and the theoretical dictionary lies in the system of the 'arrangement' of lexical entries. Whereas in the practical dictionary the entries are 'arranged' in some ordered form, in the theoretical dictionary the entries are in an unordered set.

Each lexical entry in the theoretical dictionary is realized in actual speech by virtue of its three properties or characteristics viz., morphological, syntactical and semantic. The morphological characteristics specify the break up of the entry in terms of its different both inflectional and derivational. The morphemic break shows the pronunciation and spelling of the entry.

The syntactic features are describable in terms of the collocational and combinational possibilities of a word in larger constructions like sentences. These features are marked by such specific parts of speech as noun, adjective or the secondary grammatical categories like transitive, intransitive (of verbs), count, mass (of noun) etc.

The semantic characteristics relate to the bundle of semantic features of a lexical unit in terms of their oppositeness and contrastiveness.

On the basis of these specifications of the lexical entry, the speaker is able to 'create' or produce new words or derive new meanings from the existing words with the help of what is called lexical rules. The lexical rules also explain the interrelationship between different lexical units in a language.

The lexical rules account for the formation of new words in terms of the predictability of their acceptability or otherwise. The acceptability can be of three types:-

(1) Actual acceptability, which has been universally accepted as well formed according to rules of word formation and the word has also the social acceptability.
(2) Potential acceptability, which can be produced by word formation rules but are not established in the society.
(3) Total unacceptability, such word formation are neither permissible by word formation rules nor do they have the acceptability of the society.

The lexical rules provide the background information about the actual acceptance of lexical units by giving clues for such acceptability. Even among the actual accepted lexical units there are degrees of acceptedness. Some units are more commonly accepted whereas others are less commonly accepted. The practical dictionary records the most commonly accepted units, the less acceptable are either nor recorded or recorded with some delimiting labels.

The lexical rules are of different types viz., rules of morphological derivation, rules of conversion, rules of semantic transfer etc. The rules of morphological derivation relate to the change in morphological structure by addition of some suffixes or affixes to stems e.g. Hindi ghod?aa 'horse' ghod?ewaalaa 'one who owns a horse' or by the method of compounding etc.

The rules of conversion relate to change in the syntactic function without affecting the morphological structure. E.g. cut noun, drop noun: drop verb.

The rules for semantic transfer involve change in the semantic structure of a word. Metaphorical extensions, metonymy and other forms of semantic change are covered by this rule. This rule accounts for the connotational and stylistic meanings of the lexical units which in course of time are systemized, institutionalized and established in the language.

The lexical rules are of diverse nature. Large number of lexical rules can be applied to one lexical unit e.g. boy, boyish, boyhood etc. the same rule can be applied to different words, e.g. boyhood, girlhood, manhood, womanhood etc. The lexical rules explaining the relationship between different lexical units are related to polysemy, synonymy, hyponymy etc.

1."Creating" according to Shcherba (Srivastava 1968, 113).
2. For details see Annamalai, E. (1978)
3. Cf. Jesperson, O. "Grammar deals with general facts of language and lexicology with special facts". Philosophy of Grammar, p. 32
4. For details see Leech 1974, pp. 210 ff.