Session 17English Dictionaries

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Session 17English Dictionaries



    授课 授课 2 Lecture Chapter 13 English Dictionaries 时数 类型 To introduce and expound four types of dictionaries, their contents, scope and

     characteristics, and discuss how to choose and use dictionaries.

    1. Types of Dictionaries: mono-lingual & bilingual dictionaries; linguistic &

    encyclopedic dictionaries, unabridged, desk and pocket dictionaries, specialized dictionaries 2. Use of Dictionaries: choice of dictionaries, content of the dictionary, use of

    the dictionary

     Choice of appropriate dictionaries

    1. Development of English Dictionaries 2. Types of Dictionaries: mono-lingual & bilingual dictionaries; linguistic &

    encyclopedic dictionaries, unabridged, desk and pocket dictionaries, specialized

    dictionaries 3. Use of Dictionaries: choice of dictionaries, content of the dictionary, use of the



     Teaching Materials: Chapter 13

     Teaching Steps:

     Step 1 Warming-up activities 教学说明

     Step 2 Presentation

     I. Definition of Dictionary It is a book which represents in alphabetic order the words of the English

     language, with information as to its spelling, pronunciation, meaning and its etymology.

II. The development of dictionaries

    1. Origin: began in Anglo-Saxon times, printed in Latin

    2. First English dictionaries: appeared in the 17th century;

     defined “hard words” in terms of other English words; (Why?)

     trying to convert English into a hybrid language mainly of Latin, with some

    Greek and French words

    Robert Cawdrey: Table Alphabetical of Hard Words (1604)

    Henry Cockeram: The English Dictionary (1623)

    Three parts:

    hard words with definition in simple language

    ordinary, vulgar words with elegant equivalents

    names of mythological heroes, various flora and fauna

    3. Modern English Dictionary


     2 1) Nathaniel Bailey’s dictionary (1721):

    A Universal Etymological English Dictionary

    A new emphasis on the origins of words; attempt to include all the words in the

    language (40,000 words); incorporated into his book many features of

    modern dictionary: current usage, etymology, syllabification, correct

    pronunciation; served as a model

    2) Samuel Johnson: A Dictionary of the English Language (1755)

    The 18th century was an age of dictionaries and the encyclopedic and

    lexicographical tendencies of the time received their fullest expression in this

    book; Identified as a matter of national pride and defense, a symbol of British

    individualism and strength


    his method not substantially changed; a paradigm for all lexicographers since Wheatley’s summary: a. the first to be considered as a standard; b. the meaning of words fully illustrated by well- selected authorities; c. full and clear definitions, with illustration of the meanings 3) Noah Webster: An American Dictionary of the English Language Reason? the American language was changing from that of the British: new words, new meanings for old words, different pronunciations, and new usages

    basic information:

    70,000 entries; many words of American origin; illustrative quotations of Americans; Changed American spelling

    A great success: Webster is synonymous for dictionary

    4) The Oxford English Dictionary

     Early name: A New English Dictionary On Historical Principles By James A. H. Murray, etc

    The Oxford English Dictionary, often just called the OED, is a unique source of

    scholarly information on meaning, history, and pronunciation of words both past and present. It is the accepted authority on the evolution of the English

    language over the last millennium.

     What is the coverage of the OED?

     The OED includes:

    ; The meaning, history, and pronunciation of over half a million words; ; The usage of words through 2.5 million quotations from a wide range of

    international English language sources, from classic literature and

    specialist periodicals to film scripts and cookery books;

    ; Etymological analysis, lists of variant spellings, and pronunciation using

    the International Phonetic Alphabet;

    ; Words from across the English-speaking world, from North America to

    South Africa, from Australia and New Zealand to the Caribbean.




    one of the greatest achievements of the human intellect;

    a historical dictionary, informed by the Science of historical linguistics

    re-established England as the center for the language and its role in the world.

III. Types of dictionaries

    1. Monolingual dictionaries vs. bilingual dictionaries

    Monolingual dictionaries are written in one language, while bilingual dictionaries are written in two languages.

    Bilingual dictionaries are of the two types. One is that the entries are defined and explained in the same language with translations. The other is that the

    entries are defined in one language and given their foreign equivalents.

2. Linguistic and encyclopedic dictionaries

    Linguistic dictionaries aim at providing linguistic information about the head

    words, such as pronunciation, spelling, meaning, part of speech,…

    Encyclopedic dictionaries are of the two kinds: one is encyclopedia, which aims at providing encyclopedic information about the headwords. The other is

    encyclopedic dictionary, which shares the characteristics of both a linguistic

    dictionary and an encyclopedia.

3. General-purpose dictionaries

    Unabridged: An unabridged dictionary is compiled for general use---to look for

    spelling, meaning, pronunciation, usage, etc. It is, theoretically, a complete

    record of all the words in use, though in fact, it is not.

    Desk: A desk dictionary is a medium-sized dictionary which usually has a vocabulary of about 50,000 to 150,000.

    Pocket Dictionaries: A pocket dictionary usually contains a vocabulary of less than 50,000 words. A pocket dictionary usually provides only the information related to pronunciation and spelling.

4. Specialized dictionaries

    Specialized dictionaries usually focus on one area of knowledge. They provide

    detailed information in a particular subject.

IV. Use of dictionaries

    1. Choice of dictionaries

     The following factors should be considered:

     (1) the dictionary users' level of English;

    Generally speaking, a monolingual dictionary is appropriate for those

    learners well above the intermediate level. For one who is below that level, a

    bilingual dictionary is the proper choice.


     4 (2) the kind of information that dictionary users want to consult a dictionary for

     If a learner wants to know more background information about an event, or a

    person, etc. encyclopedia is appropriate choice. If he wants to know the

    language uses, a linguistic dictionary is recommended.

    If the learner wants to know the detailed information in a particular discipline,

     then a specialized dictionary is advisable.

     If a learner simply wants to check the spelling or pronunciation of a word

    occasionally, then a pocket dictionary is enough.

    If the learner wants to know the meaning of technical term, or the word

    indicating a plant, etc., a bilingual dictionary is preferred.

    (3) the varieties of English

     What is regarded as correct in one variety of English may be regarded as

    wrong in another variety of English. If a learner wants to know the meaning

    or the use of a word of, say, American English, he might as well consult an

    American dictionary.

    (4) the date of publication

    Language is in constant change, so the publication date of a dictionary is

    important. When reading late modern English, you can not consult a

    dictionary which was published well before late modern English period. If you

    want to know the present use of a word, it is advisable you use a dictionary of

    the latest publication.

2. the use of dictionary

    a. spelling

    b. pronunciation

    c. parts of speech and inflected forms

    d. labels

    e. the definition

    f. etymology

    g. Synonyms

    h. Frequency

    i. illustration

Step 3 Exercises





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