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The theory and practice of compiling dictionaries is called lexicography. The history of compiling dictionaries for English comes as far back as the Old English period, where we can find glosses of religious books / interlinear translations from Latin into English. Regular bilingual dictionaries began to appear in the 15-th century /Anglo-Latin, Anglo-French, Anglo-German.
The first unilingual dictionary explaining difficult words appeared in 1604, the author was Robert Cawdry, a schoolmaster. He compiled his dictionary for schoolchildren. In 1721 an English scientist and writer Nathan Bailey published the first etymological dictionary which explained the origin of English words. It was the first scientific dictionary, it was compiled for philologists.
In 1775 an English scientist compiled a famous explanatory dictionary. Its author was Samuel Johnson. Every word in his dictionary was illustrated by examples from English literature; the meanings of words were clear from the contexts in which they were used. The dictionary was a great success and it influenced the development of lexicography in all countries. The dictionary influenced normalization of the English vocabulary. But at the same time it helped to preserve the English spelling in its conservative form.
In 1858 one of the members of the English philological society Dr. Trench raised the question of compiling a dictionary including all the words existing in the language. The philological society adopted the decision to compile the dictionary and the work started. More than a thousand people took part in collecting examples, and 26 years later in 1884 the first volume was published. It contained words beginning with «A» and «B». The last volume was published in 1928 that is 70 years after the decision to compile it was adopted. The dictionary was called NED and contained 12 volumes.
In 1933 the dictionary was republished under the title «The Oxford English Dictionary», because the work on the dictionary was conducted in Oxford. This dictionary contained 13 volumes. As the dictionary was very large and terribly expensive scientists continued their work and compiled shorter editions of the dictionary: «A Shorter Oxford Dictionary» consisting of two volumes. It had the same number of entries, but far less examples from literature. They also compiled «A Concise Oxford Dictionary» consisting of one volume and including only modern words and no examples from literature.
The American lexicography began to develop much later, at the end of the 18-th century. The most famous American English dictionary was compiled by Noah Webster. He was an active stateman and public man and he published his first dictionary in 1806. He went on with his work on the dictionary and in 1828 he published a two-volume dictionary. He tried to simplify the English spelling and transcription. He introduced the alphabetical system of transcription where he used letters and combinations of letters instead of transcription signs. He denoted vowels in closed syllables by the corresponding vowels, e.g. / a/, /e/, / i/, / o/, /u/. He denoted vowels in the open syllable by the same letters, but with a dash above them,e.g. / a/, /e/, /i/, /o/, /u/. He denoted vowels in the position before /r/ as the same letters with two dots above them, e.g. / a/, /o/ and by the l etter «e» with two dots above it for the combinations «er», «ir», «ur» because they are pronounced identically. The same tendency is preserved for other sounds: /u:/ is denoted by /oo/, /y/ is used for the sound /j/ etc.
All dictionaries are divided into linguistic and encyclopedic dictionaries. Encyclopedic dictionaries describe different objects, phenomena, people and give some data about them. Linguistic dictionaries describe vocabulary units, their semantic structure, their origin, their usage. Words are usually given in the alphabetical order.
Linguistic dictionaries are divided into general and specialized. To general dictionaries two most widely used dictionaries belong: explanatory and translation dictionaries. Specialized dictionaries include dictionaries of synonyms, antonyms, collocations, word-frequency, neologisms, slang, pronouncing, etymological, phraseological and others.
All types of dictionaries can be unilingual (excepting translation ones) if the explanation is given in the same language, bilingual if the explanation is given in another language and also they can be polylingual.
There are a lot of explanatory dictionaries (NED, SOD, COD, NID, N.G. Wyld’s «Universal Dictionary» and others). In explanatory dictionaries the entry consists of the spelling, transcription, grammatical forms, meanings, examples, phraseology. Pronunciation is given either by means of the International Transcription System or in British Phonetic Notation which is different in each large dictionary, e.g. /o:/ can be indicated as / aw/, /or/, /oh/, /o/, etc.
Translation dictionaries give words and their equivalents in the other language. There are English-Russian dictionaries by I.R. Galperin, by Y. Apresyan and others. Among general dictionaries we can also mention Learner’s dictionaries. They began to appear in the second half of the 20-th century. The most famous is «The Advanced Learner’s Dictionary» by A.S. Hornby. It is a unilingual dictionary based on COD, for advanced foreign learners and language teachers. It gives data about grammatical and lexical valency of words. Specialized dictionaries of synonyms are also widely used; one of them is «A Dictionary of English Synonyms and Synonymous Expressions» by R.Soule. Another famous one is «Webster’s Dictionary of Synonyms». These are unilingual dictionaries. The best known bilingual dictionary of synonyms is «English Synonyms» compiled by Y. Apresyan.
In 1981 «The Longman Lexicon of Contemporary English» was compiled, where words are given in 14 semantic groups of everyday nature. Each word is defined in detail, its usage is explained and illustrated, synonyms and antonyms are presented also. It describes 15000 items, and can be referred to dictionaries of synonyms and to explanatory dictionaries.
Phraseological dictionaries describe idioms and colloquial phrases, proverbs. Some of them have examples from literature. Some lexicographers include not only word-groups but also anomalies among words. In «The Oxford Dictionary of English Proverbs» each proverb is illustrated by a lot of examples, there are stylistic references as well. The dictionary by Vizetelli gives definitions and illustrations, but different meanings of polysemantic units are not given. The most famous bilingual dictionary of phraseology was compiled by A.V. Koonin. It is one of the best phraseological dictionaries.
Etymological dictionaries trace present-day words to the oldest forms of these words and forms of these words in other languages. One of the best etymological dictionaries was compiled by W. Skeat.
Pronouncing dictionaries record only pronunciation. The most famous is D. Jones’s «Pronouncing Dictionary».
Dictionaries of neologisms are: a four-volume «Supplement to NED» by Burchfield, «The Longman Register of New Words»/1990/, «Bloomsury Dictionary of New Words» /1996/.
|Taken from “English Language Practice” by B. Lebedinskaya||Билеты на самолет|
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