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A. History of Dictionary
 The origin of dictionary can be traced back to the oldest known dictionaries
were Akkadian Empire cuneiform tablets with bilingual Sumerian–Akkadian
wordlists, discovered in Ebla (modern Syria) and dated roughly 2300 BCE
 The early 2nd millennium BCE Urra=hubullu glossary is the canonical
Babylonian version of such bilingual Sumerian wordlists.
 A Chinese dictionary, the c. 3rd century BCE Erya, was the earliest surviving
monolingual dictionary.
 The inventor of dictionary is unknown, but Samuel Johnson is most often
credited with the task of making dictionary, but it's not true - not even he
claimed it to be so.
 In 1604 Robert Cawdrey created the first English language dictionary and in
1656 Thomas Blount also published a dictionary. Johnson didn't crank his out
until 1755.
 In 1806 the Americans put the British to shame when Noah Webster compiled
his dictionary of the English language. It became a best seller and drove the
British Philological Society to begin compiling a comprehensive dictionary,
which would later become the Oxford English Dictionary. It took more than a
century and several different editors to get the thing published in full form. The
first edition was actually worked on from 1860 to 1952, though plans went back
earlier. The most famous editor was James Murray, a man of working-class
origins. However, he neither began the project nor saw it complete. He did,
however, create a successful methodology for getting the project done.

B. Kind of Dictionary and The Function

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 at
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" 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.

(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

In terms of system linguistics, the lexicon of a language is an ideal entity that comprises
the entire significative system of a language, under any aspect, to the extent that it is
idiosyncratic rather than regular. The same would be true for an ideal dictionary, a perceptible
representation of an ideal lexicon. Real dictionaries are limited in their purpose and scope.
Therefore, a dictionary is a representation of part of the lexicon of a language for a certain

Kind of Dictionary
1. Bilingual Dictionary: gives words in two languages. Each language is grouped alphabetically
in separate halves of the book, with translations into the other language.
2. Monolingual Dictionary: A monolingual dictionary uses the same language for the words
and their definitions.
3. Etymological Dictionary: An etymological dictionary traces a word's development over
time, giving historical examples to show changes.
4. Crosswords Dictionary: A crossword dictionary has words grouped together by the number
of letters in the word to help people find words of a certain length to complete their crossword
5. Rhyming Dictionary: A Rhyming Dictionary is one where words are grouped together by
their end sounds. When two words end with the same sound, they rhyme, used more frequently
in poetry than prose as an effect.
6. Mini Dictionaries: A mini-dictionary is a little dictionary, also called a pocket dictionary.
7. Pocket Dictionary: A pocket dictionary is a small portable dictionary designed to be carried
around. Consequently, they often have tough covers to withstand the perils of travelling.
8. Thesaurus: A thesaurus is a book that organises words by categories and concepts, so
synonyms and near-synonyms will be grouped together.
9. Glossary: A glossary is a list of words or phrases used in a particular field with their
definitions. Glossaries are often found at the back of a specialist or academic book as an
appendix to the text.
10. Valency Dictionary

A valency dictionary is one that uses the valency of the lemmas as the primary criterion both
in the macrostructure and in the microstructure. This usually has the following consequences:

 Each entry list comprises lemmas of one-word class, typically verbs, adjectives and
 The macrostructure may obey a structural criterion, viz. valency classes. If it is
alphabetical, valency class may be a criterion of lemmatization.
 In the microstructure, alternate valency frames in which the lemma may be used provide
the criterion of subdivision.

Some valency dictionaries are structurally oriented, i.e. they are based on distributional
properties of their lemmas. Others are more semantically oriented, i.e. they are based on
semantic role frames rather that grammatical valency frames.

For each of the uses of the lemma as defined by the respective valency frame, the valency
dictionary then indicates the meaning, either in the language of the monolingual dictionary or
in the user language of a bilingual dictionary.

A comprehensive general dictionary of the kind whose microstructure is described in detail in

the corresponding section comprises all the information that may be contained in a valency

11. Dictionary of Proper Names

A name is a noun that is used to refer to an individual object as such, i.e. without classifying
it. An onomastic dictionary is a dictionary whose lemmas are names. Normally, an onomastic
dictionary does not treat just any kind of name of the language, but one class of names. The
following classes of names commonly have dictionaries to them:

 first names (anthroponyms)

 family names
 place names (toponyms)
 waters (hydronyms)
 mountains (oreonyms)

Since names do not have meaning in the sense that common nouns have meaning, the purpose
of a name dictionary differs from that of a general dictionary, and its microstructure differs
accordingly. Commonly, the entry provides the following kinds of information:

 the lemma in a “citation form”, which may be the one closest to its etymological origin
or the one most frequently found,
 the region where the name is found frequently or where it originates,
 variant (phonological, orthographic, phonological) forms of the lemma, each with
diatopic, diastratic or diachronic marking or even details on written documentation,
 the etymology (language of origin, original word formation, original meaning) of the
Answering the interests of laymen and specialists alike, etymology plays a prominent role in
onomastic dictionaries, and to that extent they are almost a subtype of the etymological

12. Frequency Dictionary

A frequency dictionary (or word frequency book) is a set of word lists that provides each
lemma with statistical information of various kinds. It commonly comprises at least two lists
of entries:

 an alphabetical list that provides statistical information on each entry,

 a frequency list in which items are ordered according to some statistical value,
commonly just their frequency in the corpus.

Methodologically, a word frequency book differs from all other kinds of dictionaries in that it
is necessarily and exclusively corpus-based. Apart from lemmatization, most of its confection
is automatic.

Another difference between most frequency dictionaries and other kinds of dictionaries
consists in the nature of the lemmas. As explained in the section on lemmatization, the process
that relates text tokens to lemmas of a dictionary leads over various steps of abstraction. One
of the lowest of these is the word form (or inflected form). While most other dictionaries
proceed further in relating word forms to lexemes, most frequency dictionaries abide at the
level of word forms. An English frequency dictionary, e.g., would give the user the frequencies
of each of the forms am, are, is, was, were, be, been, being, but it would not tell one the
frequency of the lexeme be in the corpus; that the user would have to calculate for himself by
adding the component frequencies. As a consequence, one can easily compare the frequencies
of the forms is vs was; but it would be more cumbersome to compare the frequencies of the
lexemes be and have.

In former times, the separate appearance of inflected forms in frequency dictionaries

was doubtless due to the desire to automatize the compilation of the dictionary. Nowadays,
rather powerful lemmatization programs are available, which can assemble the different
inflected forms of a lexeme under one entry, paired with the individual and with the lump

Frequency dictionaries play a certain role in the elaboration of other kinds of

dictionaries: Lemma selection partly follows frequency, and the description of uses of words,
e.g. of senses, collocations, constructions, is also mostly restricted to the more frequent uses.
Last not least, the probability of a linguistic element is the basis of the calculus of its
information value, which has an interesting relationship with its meaning

13. Terminological Dictionary

A terminological dictionary is a dictionary whose entries are constituted by the elements of a

terminology. Thus, each lemma is a term.

The microstructure of a terminological dictionary usually comprises the following items:

 analysis of the term (language of origin, formation, meaning of the components); since
most contemporary technical terms are modern formations, this is not really an
 equivalent terms in other languages (many terminological dictionaries are, to that
extent, multilingual)
 major subdivision of the entry by different acceptations of the term in the history of the
discipline or in competing schools
 tracing back of the term to its first use in some work by some scientist
 explanation of the meaning (for each of the acceptations)
 cross-reference to systematically related terms
 bibliographical references.

Since a term has to be a common noun, the lemmas of a terminological dictionary are common
nouns. However, most professional fields have technical expressions that are verbs or
adjectives, like in linguistics the ones in the left column of the following table. In such cases,
the expression is lemmatized under the corresponding abstract noun, thus:

Abstract nouns as terms

non-noun abstract noun
Govern government
Agree agreement
Assimilate assimilation
synonymous synonymy
grammatical grammar/grammaticity/grammaticality
Recursive recursion

As the examples show, the abstract noun is in some cases derived from the non-noun base; in
other cases, both the noun and the non-noun are derived. Often, especially in the former case,
the meaning of the verb or adjective is conceptually simpler than the meaning of the abstract
noun. In such cases, one defines the simpler term, as in this example:

synonymy: A linguistic expression is synonymous with another linguistic expression if both

have the same meaning. This is operationalized as free variation, i.e. substitutability without
difference in all contexts.
Synonymy is the relation of being synonymous.

The last sentence of the example definition is normally superfluous, because the kind of
derivation involved in such pairs as synonymous – synonymy is mostly regular, so the user who
gets synonymous defined under the lemma synonymy can infer what the latter is.

While any dictionary has, by its very nature, some standardizing function, this is possibly most
prominent in a terminological dictionary. This is because science and technology are more in
need of standardization of their concepts than other domains.

A comprehensive treatment of the structure of a terminological network, applied to linguistics,

is found in Lehmann 1996 and on the website

14. Onomasiological Dictionary

The concept of the Onomasiological dictionary presupposes the converse relation between
onomasiology and semasiology, for which see the corresponding section. Although that
volume of a bilingual dictionary which leads from the user language to the foreign language is
essentially an Onomasiological dictionary, as explained elsewhere, the term ‘onomasiological
dictionary’ commonly designates a monolingual dictionary. Under that proviso, an
Onomasiological dictionary is a dictionary which is organized by semantic criteria and thus
leads the user from concepts to expressions.

There are two kinds of Onomasiological dictionaries as distinguished by their macrostructure:

 thesaurus (German Wörterbuch nach Sachgruppen ‘dictionary of subject matter’)

 synonym dictionary (German Synonymenwörterbuch)

C. How to make Dictionaries

How to make a dictionary

Survey of main steps
Lexicographer's instructions
Data, corpus, sample
Lexical database
Homonym numbers
Consistency in dictionary making
Lemma selection
Exporting a dictionary from the database
Dictionary layout
Polysemy in the dictionary entry
Converting a bilingual dictionary