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Unilingual dictionaries




The most important unilingual dictionary of the English language is The OxfordEnglish Dictionary. It appeared in thirteen volumes in 1933. The first part of the Dictionary appeared in 1884. Its prestige is enormous. It is considered superior to corresponding major dictionaries for other languages. It keeps to all the main principles of historical presentation and covers literary and colloquial English. Words are both defined and illustrated with key quotations.

The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionaryis the world bestseller recommended by learners of English and their teachers. It happens that the publication of this, the seventh edition of Dictionary, comes 250 years after the appearance of the first comprehensive dictionary of the English language, compiled by Samuel Johnson. Since then, the English has dispersed and diversified, has been adopted and adapted as an international means of communication by communities all over the globe. This obviously poses a problem for the dictionary maker: which words are to be included in a dictionary? This dictionary has more words and more help with British and American English than any other dictionary. It includes 183,500 British and American words, phrases and meanings, 85,000 example sentences, 7,000 synonyms and opposites. It has the Compass CD-ROM.

The Macmillan English Dictionaryis a major new dictionary based on a 200 million word corpus of real spoken and written text. It includes over 100,000 references with 30,000 idioms and phrases. Its clear, simple definitions are written using 2,500 of the most common and familiar words, which are listed at the back of the dictionary.

The father of American lexicography was Noah Webster. His great work, The American Dictionary of the English Language,appearedin two volumes in 1828 and later sustained numerous revised and enlarged editions. He devoted his energy to giving the American English the status of an independent language, distinct from British English.

Webster’s dictionary enjoyed great popularity from its first editions. This popularity was due not only to the accuracy and clarity of definitions but also to the richness of additional information of encyclopaedic character, which had become a tradition in American lexicography. As a dictionary it provides definitions, pronunciation and etymology. As an encyclopaedia it gives explanations about things named, including scientific and technical subjects.

Soon after N.Webster’s death two printers and booksellers of Massachusetts, George and Charles Merriam, secured the rights of his dictionary from his family and started the publication of revised single volume editions under the name Merriam-Webster. The staff working for the modern editions is a big institution numbering hundreds of specialists in different branches of human activity.

The latest completely revised edition is Webster’s Third New InternationalDictionary, Unabridged,published by Merriam-Webster Inc. in 1961. It is America’s most comprehensive dictionary of the English Language.

There are some other fine dictionaries in the Merriam-Webster line and the very latest in that series is Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition, 1993. The 1600 pages of this Collegiate make it the most comprehensive. The information given is based on the collection of 14,500,000 citations used in a wide range of printed sources. More than 215,000 definitions deliver extensive coverage of the words. Special sections offer up-to-date information and include: Biographical Names, Geographical Names, Abbreviations, Foreign Words and Phrases, Signs and Symbols.

Some general dictionaries may have very specific aims and still be considered general due to their coverage. And so is a Thesaurus in spite of its unusual arrangement. The Latin word thesaurusmeans ‘treasury’. Roget’s Thesaurus ofEnglish Words and Phraseswas first published in 1852. About 80 succeeding revised editions have appeared since. This type of dictionary is called ideographic.In the ideographic dictionaries the main body is arranged according to a logical classificationof notions expressed. But dictionaries of this type always have an alphabetical index attached to facilitate the search for the necessary word.

The ideographic type of dictionary is in a way the converse of the usual type: the purpose of the latter is to explain the meaning when the word is given. The Thesaurus, on the contrary, supplies the words or words by which a given idea may be expressed. The book is meant for readers (either native or foreign) having a good knowledge of English, and enables them to pick up an adequite expression and avoid overuse of the same words.

 







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