An Introduction to Lexicography

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Criteria for classification:
The Oxford English Dictionary defines a dictionary as a "book dealing with the individual words of a language (or certain specified class of them) so as to set forth their orthography, pronunciation, signification and use, their synonyms, derivation and history, or al least some of these facts, for convenience of reference the words are arranged in some stated order, now in most languages, alphabetical, and in larger dictionaries the information given in illustrated by quotations from literature".

One of the components of the above definition "arranged in some stated order….. alphabetical"1 has been extended to cover other reference books giving information of different types in alphabetical order and the term dictionary can "apply quite loosely to any reference work arranged by words or names". (Malkiel 1967. 23). Thus we have dictionaries of national biography, dictionary of folklore, caritra kosa, abhidhaanakosa, dictionary of place names, etc.

The classification of dictionaries is a very important aspect of lexicography "bearing a direct practical significance" (Shcherba in Srivastaba 1968, 119) to the preparation of dictionaries. The entire work of dictionary making from the planning stage to the preparation of press copy, at its different stages, viz. collection of materials, selection and setting of entries and arrangement of entries and their meanings is largely governed on the basis of which the dictionary is classified.

Dictionaries can be classified into different types on the basis of several criteria, varying from the nature of the lexical entry to the prospective user of the dictionary. Below are presented some main criteria for the classification of dictionaries.2

(1) Density of entries: whether the word list is general or restricted and special? Does it also cover regional and social dialects, jargons and slangs and archaisms?
(2) The number of languages involved: monolingual, bilingual, multilingual etc.
(3) The nature of entries: whether lexical only or also encyclopaedic, the degree of concentration on strictly lexical data.
(4) Axis of time: whether diachronic (dynamic) or synchronic (static).
(5) Arrangement of entries: alphabetical or semantic or causal.
(6) Purpose: whether normative or referential.
(7) The prospective user: whether meant for the general reader to find out general linguistic information or for special users to know some special aspects of the lexical unit say etymology etc.? Is it meant for the general language or only for the language of literature, there too, the language of some author, here again the language of some of his works?

All these criteria can be applied, sometimes alone and sometimes with others, for the classification of dictionaries. For example when we talk of the Sanskrit Dictionary (Poona) we find that although its aim is to present history of the words, it treats two languages and is arranged in alphabetical order. An etymological dictionary presents the development of forms of the word, it has a very highly specialized audience. The Malayalam Lexicon and Tamil Lexicon combine in them several classificatory criteria.

Although a typological classification is essential and has been attempted by many writers, it is impossible to delimit the types into a strict water-tight frame work. When we analyse any entry from any dictionary we usually find that many characteristics of different types of dictionaries have been included in it. As we shall see later, there is a large amount of overlapping in different types of dictionaries.

But although there is no clear cut division between the scope and the coverage of the dictionaries, there are dictionaries with definite focus on some major aspect of the language.

We are presenting below the description of different types of dictionaries classified on the above criteria.

Encyclopaedic and linguistic Dictionaries:
we start with the degree of the inclusion of lexical (i.e. linguistic) and non-lexical (i.e. encyclopaedic) information in the dictionary as also the treatment of each individual item in it.

The lexical or linguistic information pertains to linguistic characteristics of the lexical unit viz., pronunciation, definition, etymology, grammatical category, etc. the encyclopaedic information has the following features.
(a) the inclusion of names of persons, places, and literary works,
(b) coverage of all branches of human knowledge,
(c) extensive treatment of facts.

The dictionaries, giving information of the former type, are called linguistic or general dictionaries and those giving information of the latter type, the encyclopaedic dictionaries. But before these are described it would be useful to make a distinction between an encyclopaedia and an encyclopaedic dictionary. The encyclopaedia are more concerned with the concepts and objects of extra linguistic would, that is the things and in a narrow sense they may be called 'thing books'. Information presented in them is under few general topics. Their aim is to present information, as noted earlier, on all aspects of human knowledge. The items presented are more of denotational character including names of plants, animals, diseases. They also give historical events, geographical features, biographical sketches of important personalities. Many items found in linguistic or general dictionaries do not find place in them. Such items are function words, verbal forms, and variety of other words e.g. Eng. he, she, Hindi jaanaa, 'go' agar 'if' Eng. father, mother etc. The information provided is more detailed and relates to the history and the description of the item.

The encyclopaedic dictionary is a combination of an encyclopaedia and a linguistic dictionary. It also includes items that are generally characteristic of an encyclopaedia in addition to the items of a linguistic dictionary. In the amount of the information and the manner of its presentation, again, it combines the features of both. As a matter of fact, there can be no division like a linguistic dictionary and non-linguistic dictionary equating the latter with encyclopaedic dictionary. As already stated any dictionary combines the features of both. The bigger dictionaries like The Century Dictionary, The Oxford English Dictionary, Malayalam Lexicon, Tamil Lexicon, Hindi Sabda Sagar etc., are encyclopaedic but all of them are linguistic dictionaries.

Even the abridged and concise dictionaries present encyclopaedic information in so far as they include proper names and explanation of culture items although it has been contended if proper names (realia) could be included in the purely linguistic dictionaries because it may make the dictionary encyclopaedic. (Zgusta 1971, 245-246). So, many dictionaries give them not in the main body of the dictionary but in appendices. An ordinary dictionary includes them only when they attain the status of the common words.

The linguistic dictionary deals with only the lexical stock i.e. words as speech material and may be roughly called 'word book'. The linguistic dictionary usually attains the status of the encyclopaedic dictionary in different ways, given below:-
(a) when a linguistic definition becomes inadequate to describe the lexical item, especially when it is a culture bound word, the lexicographer has to include encyclopaedic information e.g. Malto kud ko:la-n. 'an earthen pot in which the umbilical cord is preserved'. Hindi baghnakh, baghnakhaa n. ek aabhuuÀan?a jisme N baagh ke naakhuun caaNdii yaa sone meN mar?he hote hEN. 'a type of ornament in which the nails of a tiger are studded in gold or silver'.
(b) In the definition of certain words the encyclopaedic definition determines the underlying concept':
Coal n. 1. Hard opaque black or blackish mineral or vegetable matter found in seams or strata below earth's surface and used as fuel and in manufacture of gas, tar etc., (COD) cf. this definition with coal n. a black, hard substance that burns and gives off heat. (Ladder Dictionary)
(c) when we give different meanings of a polysemous word and mark them with labels, we give a hint that the meaning belongs to a particular branch of human knowledge like botany, astronomy, medicine etc,. impliedly indicating the encyclopaedic information there. The same thing happens to the quotations in illustrative examples with citations. Again, when we just refer to some work for further details about any type of cultural information, we give indirectly encyclopaedic information.

From the point of view of time the dictionaries can be either diachronic (dynamic) or synchronic (static), the former dealing with words across time and the latter at a particular point of time.

As a matter of fact, it is very difficult to draw a line between diachronic and synchronic dictionaries. Bigger dictionaries of synchronic/descriptive character, for that matter even the smaller ones, have to include at least some amount of historical information. When a dictionary gives the derivative source of a word in form of the origin tag, usually appended to the head word in the lemma, there is an attempt to give, however superficial it may be, the etymology of the word and in this way the dictionary presents elements of diachronic nature.

Larger dictionaries of many Indian language, meant for the understanding of the literature of the language, include some words from texts of the earlier period. In these cases the lexicographer has to arrange the different usages of the different senses of a lexical unit in some chronological order and thus the descriptive dictionary attains a historical colour. Again, when describing the lexical units of the language, the lexicographer finds some words of rare use or gradually going out of use he makes use of some labels, e.g. archaic, obsolete, obsolescent etc., to describe these words. In doing so he takes his dictionary to the domain of the diachronic one.

Historical and Etymological Dictionaries:
The diachronic or historical dictionary has a special class in it which can be called etymological. Although its focus is also to present the history of a lexical unit, its form and purpose are totally different from historical dictionary and it has a limited readership. Its word list is different from the general dictionaries, even from the historical dictionary and in this regard it comes under special type of dictionaries, described later.

The main function of both the historical dictionary and the etymological dictionary is to present the history of a lexical item. The difference lies in their approach. The historical dictionary records the development of a lexical item in terms of both the form and the meaning of the particular lexical unit, whereas the etymological dictionary presents the origin of words by tracing the present day words to their oldest forms.

The historical dictionary is concerned with a systematic study of changes affecting a lexical unit during its life i.e. within a period from which there is evidence. e.g. in OED from the days of King Alfred to the present time. In order to present these changes in the structure and meaning of a word the lexicographer traces it back to its earliest available occurrence in the literature of the languages and records its development in subsequent stages of the language. In order to do this the lexicographer makes use of all the available works of the language. All the occurrences of the lexical units in different contexts in all works are found out. These contexts are analysed and compared with each other. By doing this, the lexicographer finds out the different senses of a lexical unit and finer nuances of its meanings. Then these meanings and submeanings are arranged in chronological order. As for the forms, the changes in their shape is also recorded chronologically. But this is by no means a simple task. The number of words in a language is very large and changes in case of all the words are difficult to record in all their minor details. Moreover, the semantic changes of individual lexical items are arbitrary and cannot be generalized. As a result the lexicographer has to analyse a large amount of data to find out the semantic changes of a lexical unit.4

The problem arises as to whether a historical dictionary can cover all the works available in a language and give all citations for all the lexical items. No dictionary, whatever be its resources, can afford to give all this. The lexicographer has to choose some workable way for his dictionary. In order to do this, works are at first listed. Then a selection of works as to which of them would form the corpus of the dictionary is done. For selecting works for the dictionary, two considerations govern the decision of the lexicographer: (1) time and (2) the subject or theme. First, certain broad classifications can be made of the entire period. This classification is based on some criterion like some landmark in the history of the development of the language e.g. some outstanding author or some notable literary or other event. Works from all the periods are selected for the dictionary. The lexicographer has to see that all the periods in the history of a language are given due and even attention. No period should be left without proper representation, otherwise it would be impossible to find a coherent semantic development of a lexical item. It has been contended whether a dictionary like OED, which deals with all the periods of the history of the language, can be a true historical dictionary. It is suggested that it would provide more scientific and accurate account of the history of the words of a language if a particular period is taken up and a detailed analysis of all the works of that period is done, rather than taking total history and divide it into some periods and then making generalizations. For this Period Dictionaries dealing with some particular period may be prepared. A dictionary dealing with the entire period of the history of the language may not do justice in presenting full picture of the semantic history of the lexical stock of language.5

The second point a lexicographer has to keep in mind while selecting works for a historical dictionary is to see that all the subject fields are equally and evenly represented in the corpus of the dictionary. For this representative works of all the branches of human knowledge available in the language should be analysed. Variation of region, style and subject matter should be carefully marked and entered in the dictionary. The Sanskrit Dictionary (Poona) has used 1500 books as its source material. Malayalam Lexicon has utilized 7000 works in addition to manuscripts etc. besides these works, even the available dictionaries can be utilized. Kannada Dictionary (Bangalore) analysed 2000 books and all available inscriptional material.

The etymological dictionary, as stated earlier, traces the present word to its oldest form and gives the parent form. The interest of an etymological dictionary is primarily in the pre-history of the language. For arriving at the parent form the lexicographer takes recourse to historical comparative method, wherein on the basis of recurring correspondences of form and meaning of words in different cognate languages, the protoword form or etymon is reconstructed.

In some cased even when the dictionary does not give reconstructed protoforms it may be considered etymological. In these cases a particular point in the development of a language is fixed as a terminal point and the etymologies are traced back to that point. For Indo-Aryan languages this point may be Sanskrit hypothetical or reconstructed forms are given. Sometimes, though it is not scientific, the nearer attested forms are given as the source word. Some dictionaries give only the cognate forms e.g. Dravidian Etymological Dictionary.

The etymological dictionaries have been classified in several categories on the basis of the range of coverage, the number of languages covered etc. the most common is the one which classifies the dictionaries on the fact whether the focus of the dictionary is a single language or many languages. The dictionary with one language as focus deals with the lexical items of one language. The entry of the dictionary is given in that language. The origin of the words of this language is traced back to the proto language. In this process cognate forms form related languages are cited. Since the help of comparative method is taken by giving cognate words such dictionaries develop into comparative dictionaries.

In the dictionary which has many languages as its focus the entry word is given in the proto language. The developed forms in different languages are given in the description part of the entry.

For borrowings in the language, the etymological dictionary gives the immediate source of the borrowing, its original meaning and forms in cognate languages. If the borrowing is through some other language, the name of the intermediate language and the form therein are also given.

The dictionary of borrowed or foreign word in a language can be included in the class of etymological dictionary, because by giving the origin of these words the dictionary provides clue to the etymology of these words.

Although the focus of the etymological and historical dictionaries is different, they are not opposed to each other. Each one, on the other hand, can be helpful for the other to get more reliable results. For an etymological dictionary the reconstruction of proto forms gets greater authenticity if they are attested by forms in the earlier stage of the history of the language. This information is made available by the historical dictionary. Again, it is in the historical dictionary that we find what new words are derived form the original word and at what stage.

Most of the analytical and descriptive dictionaries contain some elements of an etymological dictionary is so far as they give what is the derivation or the origin of the word. In descriptive dictionaries, the etymological analysis helps in solving some of the basic problems of lexicography, Etymology helps in deciding the cases of homonymy and polysemy and in ordering the sequence of the meanings of the polysemous words by giving the original or basic meaning. Etymology also helps in solving the problem of unclear meanings of some lexical units.

The synchronic dictionaries are generally grouped into two classes, general and special. General dictionaries contain those words of the language which are of general use representing various spheres of life and presenting a complete picture of the general language. They are meant for the general user of the language. Special dictionaries either cover a specific part of the vocabulary or are prepared with some definite purpose. By general dictionary it should not be understood that it contains the entire lexical stock of the language. No dictionary, except the dictionary of dead languages wherein the possibility of creation of new words is severely restricted, can give all the words of a language. Although the general dictionaries contain general word list some of the special dictionaries with their focus on some particular purpose contain the general word lists. For example, the dictionaries of pronunciation, the reverse dictionaries, the frequency counts have special purpose but their word list is general.

Special Dictionaries:
The special dictionaries may be classed into the following groups on the basis of the nature of their word lists:-
(1) Their covering special geographical regions, social dialects or special spheres of human activity,
(2) Their formal shape,
(3) Their semantic aspect and their relational value in the lexical stock of the language
(4) Their collocational value,
(5) Special language units and others.

The first group includes the dictionaries of the following:
(a), dialects,
(b) technical terms - glossaries
(c) special professions, arts and crafts etc.,
(d) slangs, jargons and argot etc.

(a) Dialect dictionaries: dialect dictionaries present all the characteristic of a general dictionary in their description of the lexical units. But they deal with the word stock of a particular geographical region or social group. The dictionaries usually contain words not found in the standard language i.e. words which are variations of the standard form, or words whose meanings are restricted to a particular area or social group. The preparation of these dictionaries is generally associated with dialect surveys. The entries are selected form the data collected on the basis of extensive field work, preparation of linguistic atlases, recording of all the regional variations of the lexical units etc.

There are different methods of presentation. Sometimes one of the variants is selected as the head word on the basis of standard, frequency and universality of the variant, and all other variants are given in the entry. Such regional or social variations are labeled suitably. The other information provided is regarding the grammatical category, meaning and profuse examples illustrating the use of the lexical units.

In some dictionaries all the lexical units are given as head words and their distribution in different regions is shown. Examples are given form these regions. (Wright. 1898).

The dialect dictionary may either deal with only one dialect or may contain variations from many dialects.
Under the dialect dictionaries may be included the dictionaries of regionalisms. E.g. A Dictionary of Canadianisms.

(b) The dictionary of technical terms6 deals with technical terms in a language. Terminology is a major and vital part of the vocabulary of any language. These dictionaries are generally prepared by special bodies and commissions formed specially for the purpose. They contain either terms peculiar to a particular subject field or general words with special meanings for special fields.

(c) Closely related to the dictionaries of technical terms are those of different professions, trades, crafts, sports etc. These dictionaries present words peculiar to a particular professions e.g. Dictionary of fishing terms etc. Many dictionaries of agriculture terms have been compiled in India, Grieson's Behar Peasant Life is a good example of professional dictionary.

(d) Not very far removed form these dictionaries are the dictionaries of slangs, jargons, argot etc. These dictionaries contain closed set of words used by a particular class of people. These words are either newly coined words or general words with some new special and secret meaning attached to them. In both cases the secrecy of the word is strictly maintained and is considered a taken of group solidarity. Any violations in the norms results in the disowning of the person in the group.

2. Special dictionaries classified on the basis of the formal aspects of the lexical units are of the following types:
(a) Spelling or orthographical dictionaries,
(b) Pronouncing dictionaries,
(c) Word formation dictionaries (including dictionaries of roots, verbs etc.),
(d) Dictionaries of homonyms,
(e) Dictionaries of paronyms,
(f) Grammatical dictionaries,
(g) Reverse dictionaries
(h) Dictionaries of abbreviations, acronyms etc.

(a) Spelling or orthographical dictionaries give spelling of words with their phonetic variants. They give tones, stress and accents also, wherever relevant. To this group belong dictionaries which give information whether words would be written together or separately. These dictionaries are normative in character and are used as reference points for correct spelling. The general dictionaries are also refereed for correct spelling, especially by the foreigners. But the orthographical dictionaries differ from the general dictionaries in not giving any other information than spelling.

(b) Pronouncing dictionaries record contemporary pronunciation. They are also normative and are referred to for correct pronunciation. The information supplied in these dictionaries is different form the general dictionaries. They present variant pronunciation as well as the pronunciation of grammatical forms.
(c) Word formation or derivational dictionaries give different word forming elements viz., prefixes, suffixes etc. Some of the learner's dictionaries attain the nature of word formation dictionaries is so for as they give lists of prefixes and suffixes. To this class belong the dictionaries of roots, verbs etc. Whitney's Dictionary of Sanskrit verb root belongs to this class. The Dhatupaha of Panini is a dictionary of this group.

(d) Dictionaries of homonyms present the homonyms of a language. Some of them give illustrative examples.

(e) Dictionaries of paronyms give paronyms in the language.

(f) Grammatical dictionaries are prepared to serve as guide or help book for the understanding of (correct) grammatical system of the language. This is more helpful, when the grammatical system of the language is very difficult and complex. In a grammatical dictionary, the whole grammatical structure of the language is given in the introduction. The different grammatical categories and paradigms are numbered. These numbers are given for gender, type of declension etc. These dictionaries are very useful for teachers of the language.

(g) In Reverse dictionaries the entry words are arranged in the alphabetical order of their final letters. Their earlier counterparts are the Rhyming dictionaries which were prepared as tools of aid for the poets for composing poems as rhyming was very important for the purpose. The scope of these dictionaries has become very wide at present. In these dictionaries words with similar endings appear at one place which give a sort of grammatical specification. Indentical word forming suffixes and indentical compound forming components are put at one place. These are very useful for preparing teaching materials and manuals.

(h) Dictionaries of abbreviations and acronyms: they present the abbreviations and acronyms commonly used in a language. Many dictionaries give list of common abbreviations as appendices.

3. The dictionaries classified on the basis of their semantic aspect and their relational value in the lexical stock of the language are the following:
(a) Dictionary of synonyms,
(b) Dictionary of antonyms,
(c) Ideographical or ideological dictionary,
(d) Dictionary of frequency counts.

(a) The dictionaries of synonyms give the list of synonyms (near synonyms to be more specific). Sometimes this dictionary simply enumerates the different synonyms of particular lexical items but sometimes they are accompanied by illustrative examples of the occurrence of the synonyms. Needless to say that the second process is more useful. These dictionaries help in finding the finer distinctions of meaning of a particular lexical unit in terms of its relation to the other members of the group. They are useful for the writers to find out a proper word in writing. For learners these dictionaries are useful as they provide information on relation of words.

Indian languages have a rich tradition of the dictionaries of synonyms. Starting form nighan?u, through Amarakosa, Halayudha and Hemacandra to the present times there is long history of the compilation of dictionaries of synonyms in India. Most of the Indian languages have a number of dictionaries of synonyms.

(b) The dictionaries of antonyms give antonyms of a language and can be useful in finding out finer sense distinctions of polysemous and synonymous words.

(c) The Ideographic or ideological also called systemic dictionaries present words which are semantically related. They are grouped according to concept words or content words. "Lexical items in Ideographic Dictionaries are grouped into families where each one of them stands for one particular psychological dimension" (Srivastava 1968, 124). Dictionaries of synonyms are in one sense one of the sub-types of Ideographical Dictionaries.

(d) The dictionaries of frequency county presents the frequency of the lexical units in a language. They usually represent a special corpus of reading material and are useful for the preparation of children's dictionaries, learner's dictionaries, teaching material etc.,

4. Special dictionaries classified on the basis of their collocational value are the following:

a. Dictionaries of collocations: these dictionaries give usual collocations of the lexical units. They give list of all the words that can be collocated with the head word. But such dictionaries are usually limited in their scope and present only words of a few grammatical categories viz. nouns, verbs and adjectives etc. They are useful for language teaching.
b. Dictionaries of Usages: these dictionaries generally aim at providing guidelines for the correct and standard use of words and are normative in character.

5. Dictionaries of special lexical units are generally the following:

(a) Dictionaries of phrases or phraseological dictionaries: these dictionaries present the phraseological units of the language and are usually accompanied with illustrative examples.

(b) Dictionaries of proverbs and idioms: they deal with proverbs and idioms of a language.

(c) Dictionaries of neologism: such dictionaries present new words introduced in the language and the new meanings acquired by the existing words. They provide good material for the revision of the dictionaries. The addenda given in some dictionaries is very much nearer to this type of dictionaries.

(d) Dictionaries of borrowed words: these dictionaries deal with words which are borrowed in the language from time to time. These dictionaries, in a limited sense, come under the class of etymological dictionaries.

Other dictionaries of this class are dictionaries of surname, toponyms, dictionary of false friends, common vocabularies, etc.

Other types of Special Dictionaries: -

1. Exegetic dictionaries: they deal with the text of some author or many authors and are prepared in different ways. A dictionary f this type may cover a particular work of an author e.g. Padmaavata Kosa, of Jayasi, Maanasakosa of Tulasi, Dictionary of the Autobiography of Gorky. Such dictionaries also cover all the works of a particular author. e.g. Dictionary of Shakespeare, Tulasikosa, The Dictionary of Pushkin etc.,

This dictionary contains all the words available in the text or texts. All the meanings of a lexical unit are given with illustrations and the actual places of their occurrence. Sometimes the total number of the occurrences of the lexical unit are also given to show the frequency of the lexical unit. In some dictionaries only the first and the last occurrences are noted. They not only give the lexicographic definitions but also encyclopaedic information and include proper names also. These dictionaries provide guidance for understanding the special usages of the lexical units by different authors. They also help in knowing the new words used by writers as also the new meanings attached to the present lexical units. They are useful in preparation of the historical dictionary of a language.

(2) Similar to exegetic dictionaries are what we call concordences wherein all the occurrences of a particular lexical unit are quoted systematically by giving the actual place of occurrence.

(3) Learner's Dictionaries: of late this type of dictionary has been attracting the attention of the lexicographers all over the world. These dictionaries are designed to act as an aid for the learners of languages, both native and foreign, from various angles. These dictionaries are broadly of two types: (1) dictionaries meant for the foreign learners, (2) Dictionaries meant for native learners. Generally, but not exclusively, the name is used for the first type of learners.

These dictionaries differ form general dictionaries and word books for the native speakers. The difference lies in the understanding of the problems and needs of the learners. An adult learner of a foreign language might find the use of many very common and simple words difficult. Many words for most commonly used things in daily life are not known to the foreign learners. The native speaker does not face this problem because although his word stock may be poor his language competence is quite sufficient.
The Compiler of learners' dictionary has the following two types of users: -
(1) The native speakers, who although having command of the language, need guidance about the correct usage of different words.
(2) The speaker of the other language whose word-stock is limited and the language competence is very weak. In this case the interference of the native language is kept in mind while preparing the dictionaries.

The chief characteristic features of the dictionaries marking them different from other dictionaries are the following: -
(1) The vocabulary is very limited. The selection of vocabulary items is very carefully done on different scientific principles.

(2) The emphasis is not on giving all the possible meanings of a lexical unit but its function and usage in the language.

These dictionaries may again be of different types depending upon the scope of the word lists contained in them and the nature of information with each lexical item. According to the scope of the word-list the dictionaries can be general and special. The general dictionary contains all the general words to be used by the learner of a language, e.g. Hornby's Advanced Learner's Dictionary.

To the second type belong the dictionaries of selected lexical items presenting a part of the total vocabulary, e.g. Dictionary of adjectives, verbs, nouns, etc.

As for the nature of the information given in these dictionaries they may be of different types, e.g. presenting semantic or syntactic or grammatical information and emphasizing any of these aspects. Notable among them are the collocation dictionaries in different languages.

These dictionaries deal with the current and the common usage. Obsolete, archaic and dialectal words are not included in them. These dictionaries do not give certain derivatives which can be easily predictable. Variations in spelling and pronunciation are avoided as far as possible. The entries are selected on the principle of frequency. Usually more frequently used words are included in these dictionaries. The order of meanings in the learner's dictionary is empiric. The primary meaning is given first, the secondary meanings afterwards. The number of meanings is restricted to only very important ones. All possible meanings are not given. The emphasis is more on usage and collocations.

The language of the definition is kept as simple as possible. For this common and more familiar words are used for defining the words.

The learner's dictionaries give illustrative examples for all types of collocations. Illustrative pictures find greater place in the learner's dictionaries than general dictionaries.

General Dictionaries:
the general dictionary, as stated earlier, covers the total language. The dictionary of any size may be a general dictionary. It contains words from all spheres of human activities and all areas of the life of the speakers of the language.

The general dictionaries are of two types:
(a) Academic or normative dictionary,
(b) Referential or overall descriptive dictionary.

The academic dictionary gives the lexical stock of the standard language. The aim of this dictionary is to present the language as it is expected to be and stop it from decay. It has an eye on the future usage of the language. The selection of entries is done from the works of the creative writers, may be both earlier and contemporary, literature of science, arts etc., newspapers, magazines and other materials which are considered representative of the standard language. These dictionaries do not contain words of local or regional variation. Such words are included in the dictionaries only when they have been used by some writers and have been standardized in the language. Archaic and obsolete words used by creative writers are also included in them. The whole data in the dictionary represents a self contained and homogenous system. The chief feature of such dictionaries is their inclusion of profuse illustrative examples form the corpus with or without citations. Different types of dictionaries including dictionaries of technical terms, grammatical dictionary, the spelling dictionary etc., come under this group.

The referential or overall descriptive dictionary does not have any normative aim. The word stock of this dictionary is selected from different heterogeneous speech groups. The corpus includes not only literary texts but also oral literature. It contains words of regional, social and stylistic variations.

According to Shcherba a reference dictionary is "one behind which does not lie any unified language consciousness. The collected words may belong to heterogeneous speech groups of different periods and which do not in the least form a system' (Srivastaba 1968. 120).

From the point of view of coverage of languages dictionaries can be monolingual (or explanatory), bilingual and multilingual. But any type of dictionary described earlier can be either monolingual or bilingual.

In a monolingual dictionary both the entry words and their definitions or meanings are given in the same language. They may also be called explanatory dictionaries, although the latter term has assumed a special signification. The term monolingual refers to the language only irrespective of the information given in it. Some dictionaries may just give word lists and their meanings and may be monolingual dictionary. The explanatory dictionary, on the contrary, gives more information about different aspects of the lexical unit-script, pronunciation, grammar, meaning, etymology and profuse illustrations. These dictionaries are meant for the native speakers and "the target set for creating Explanatory Dictionary aims at native speakers with a view to explain one or the other lexical items which might be half known or totally unknown to them" (Srivastava 1968. 124) Most of the bigger dictionaries in all the well known languages are explanatory in nature.

In a bilingual dictionary, the aim of which is to make a foreign speaker understand the language, words of one language are explained or defined in another language 7


1. The Tamil word akaqraati, meaning in alphabetical order of a, aa etc. for dictionary, is quite significant here.

2. Based on Malkiel 1967 with slight modification.

3. Whitney, W.D. ed. The Century Dictionary, the articles on encyclopaedia and encyclopaedic.

4. See An Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Sanskrit p. XI for difficulties in the field.

5. This is the view of Shcherba (Srivastava 1968, 126).

6. Term: Any word or word group used to name a notion characteristic of some special field of knowledge.

7. For details see chapter 8.