You are on page 1of 15

The art or craft of compiling, writing and editing dictionaries is an extremely crucial job done by lexicographers.

What is more, it is necessary for a lexicographer to mark any word or sense of a word when it diverges from its standard and conventional use. For this, she or he may use appropriate usage labels whenever they apply. There are six kinds of things that can be marked by usage labels: 1) 2) 3) 4) 5) 6) Currency: dated, old- fashioned, obsolete, ,. Regional variation: regional, dialect, etc. Specialized terminology: law, literature, astronomy, , etc. Attitude: approving, taboo, insulting, , etc. Style : formal, informal, spoken, , etc Slang/ : status label.

This paper examines usage labels assigned in the entries bastard and extracted from two monolingual dictionaries (LDOCE and OALD) and ( and ). The examination is supported by corpus examples (Sketchengine). Some corpus examples may be used for more than one senses.

BASTARD:
1) bastard [countable] 1 taboo a very offensive word for someone, especially a man, who you think is unpleasant. Do not use this word.: You lying bastard! 2 spoken informal not polite a man who you think is very lucky or very unlucky - often used humorously: He's gone straight to the top, the lucky bastard. The poor bastard fell off his horse. 3 British English spoken informal something that causes difficulties or problems: Life's a bastard sometimes. 4 old-fashioned someone who was born to parents who were not married (LDOCE online)

2)

(OALD) In both LDOCE and OALD there are four senses of bastard. These senses are exactly the same semantically. Thus, the senses and usage labels of LDOCE are going to be examined and evaluated along with those in OALD. Each sense in both dictionaries is marked by separate usage labels. The senses in both dictionaries are listed according their frequency (this is the reason why in both of them the beginning of the entry seems weird because of the offensive meaning of the first sense). The first sense in LDOCE is a very offensive word for someone, especially a man, who you think is unpleasant. and it is marked by the lexicographer as taboo which is a matter of attitude (towards the person it refers to). She or he also warns the user not to use this word (something like another usage label) in order to emphasize that this word is extremely offensive and he or she also points that it is offensive within the definition itself. Moreover, the lexicographer gives some examples in order to support his/her decisions. Thus, the lexicographer uses three warnings about the use of bastard. However, he or she did not mark the deliberate informality of the sense (as in OALD). The first sense in OALD is used to insult sb, especially a man, who has been rude, unpleasant or cruel. There are also some example phrases to show the usage of the sense. The lexicographer assigns the sense with the usage label slang, which is a status label and it is used for informal and nonstandard vocabulary. He or she aims at emphasizing the deliberate informality of the use of the sense. He or she did not mark the sense as offensive or insulting (as in LDOCE), however, the use of the exclamation mark is like marking that the sense is offensive. Furthermore, there is the word insult in the definition, where it becomes clear again that the sense is insulting. All the corpus examples below refer to a person who is unpleasant to the speaker, because of some actions of that person which are considered very inappropriate, cruel and often harmful. So the speaker intends to insult a person by referring to him as bastard and this can be achieved only by informal and nonstandard vocabulary. So, it is my firm belief that the usage labels assigned in the sense in OALD are more successful due to the fact that deliberate deviation from standard vocabulary (slang) is marked along with insult (because there is intention by the speaker). But both dictionaries have very successful usage labels because as corpus examples below prove, this word is very insulting to use and this is the crucial point to be illustrated. According to actual usage of this sense (extracted from corpus examples in Sketchengine) the above are proved: 1. 2. 3. 4. `You bastard ! Why didn't you do something!' I'm going to make sure that bastard marries you! `I'll kill you, you bastard ' - vaulted from the public gallery. Always at night those bastards do it. It's a dirty way of fightin'
4

5. `I'll kill the (See also Appendix 1)

bastards

However, the lexicographers may be criticized even for having introduced this specific sense of bastard because it is considered very insulting. In my opinion, a lexicographer should not be criticized for something like that because every word that is used in the real world should be included in a dictionary no matter how offensive is, since it is marked as offensive. Thus, by including every word and sense, no matter how offensive, users and especially learners of a language would be able to recognize each word, use it appropriately or not use it at all. Regarding sense number two in LDOCE, it is: a man who you think is very lucky or very unlucky - often used humorously. This sense is marked by three usage labels: spoken informal not polite and is accompanied by some examples. The first two of them (spoken and informal) have to do with style and register (appropriate for the specific context). This sense is marked by both spoken and informal because for these two labels there is no objective basis for their distinction, so the lexicographer has decided to mark the sense by both of them. Thus, he or she points that this sense is normally used only in informal and spoken contexts. Nowadays, the usage labels spoken and informal sometimes tend to replace the term slang, used to describe exactly the same contexts although slang is vocabulary used by somebody who wants to deliberately diverge from standard use. Therefore, there is no deliberate deviation from standard use illustrated here (as in OALD). The next usage label (not polite) is a matter of attitude (towards the person it refers to). The lexicographer points that the use of this sense of bastard may be not polite, if not insulting. Furthermore, the lexicographer refers, within the definition itself, to this sense as being often used humorously. In OALD, the second sense is a word that some people use about or to sb, especially a man, who they feel very jealous of or sorry for. This sense is semantically the same as in LDOCE and is marked by two usage labels: BrE, slang. The first one (BrE) is a matter of regional variation (comes from a specific geographical area) and the lexicographer marks this sense as coming from Britain. However, this regional usage label is not assigned to the sense in LDOCE. The second usage label (slang) is a status label and is used for informal and nonstandard vocabulary. The lexicographer here aims at emphasizing the deliberate informality of the use of the sense. Last but not least, there is not any kind of labeling for humorous usage or for politeness and attitude in general as in LDOCE. As corpus examples below prove, this sense is used in very informal contexts (there is a general colloquial style) and sometimes between friends in a humorous way (example 3). But, when the sense is used to refer to a third person, it is actually not
5

polite towards him or her, yet it remains humorous and signifies either jealousy or pity: 1. Gone right to the top, the lucky bastard . 2. `The poor bastard was thrown by his horse and had to walk. 3. `Anyway, Piper, you lucky bastard , you had an hour's kip, I've had nothing. 4. He just put it to the poor bastard . I do like him, mind.' 5. At least you lucky bastards are getting off this ship of rats.

(See also Appendix 1) In conclusion, usage labels in both dictionaries illustrate successfully the informal context in which the sense is used (spoken informal in LDOCE and slang in OALD). However, usage labeling in OALD is less successful, in my opinion, because the sense is not marked by the humorous and impolite attitude shown in corpus examples, whereas in LDOCE these attitudes are marked and by doing this the lexicographer makes the sense more context specific. Regional variation (BrE) in OALD cannot be proved by corpus examples (apart from the fact that they are extracted from British National Corpora in Sketchengine). Regarding the third sense in LDOCE, it is something that causes difficulties or problems. This sense contains examples and is marked by three usage labels: British English spoken informal. The first one is a matter of regional variation, which means that this sense of bastard is mostly used in Britain. The other two usage labels (spoken informal) have to do with style and register (appropriate for the specific context). This sense is marked by both spoken and informal because for these two labels there is no objective basis for their distinction, so the lexicographer has decided to mark the sense by both of them. Thus, he or she points that this sense is normally used only in informal and spoken contexts. Sometimes, informal and spoken replace the term slang. In OALD, sense number three is used about sth that causes difficulties or problems. The senses in both dictionaries are exactly the same semantically. In OALD this sense is accompanied by examples and is marked by two usage labels: BrE slang. The first usage label is a matter of regional variation. This sense is mostly used in Britain (exactly the same usage label as in LDOCE). The second usage label slang is a status label and is used for informal and nonstandard vocabulary deliberately used to diverge from standard use. Corpus examples for this sense are: 1. `All I know is the bastard things are good enough not to need much. 2. out of bath long I says don't knock on my bastard door again I said, I'll wring your neck. 3. `Paul Weller' is a decent record for a bastard hot sticky day.
6

(See also Appendix 1) In all three corpus examples, bastard is used to describe things that cause problems to the speakers. It also becomes obvious that the contexts are very informal and spoken by the general colloquial style. Thus, usage labels in both LDOCE and OALD are very successful, despite the fact that deliberate divergence from standard use is not illustrated in LDOCE. Usage labels having to do with regional variation cannot be proved by corpus examples (apart from the fact that they are extracted from British National Corpora in Sketchengine). The fourth sense in LDOCE is someone who was born to parents who were not married. The lexicographer uses some examples in order to support his decisions and has assigned only one usage label: old-fashioned. This usage label is a matter of currency. This sense is no longer in use and this currency label is attributed to the word/sense not to the concept signified by the sense. In OALD, the fourth sense is a person whose parents were not married to each other when she or he was born. In this sense in OALD the lexicographer marks the sense by two usage labels: old-fashioned disapproving. The first one is a matter of currency and this means that this sense is somehow non-current and no longer in use. The second one is a matter of attitude (towards the person the sense refers to). The lexicographer illustrates that this sense of bastard shows dislike, derogation and even humiliation towards the person it refers to. This attitude label is not assigned in the sense in LDOCE. Below are some corpus examples of this sense: 1. And he was the father of her bastard child.' 2. Another woman was awarded relief for her bastard child," upon their appearing and not showing 3. He had bastards by at least two of his mistresses, Marion 4. You might also think about that otherbastard son, Philip, in King John, a merry, pranking (See also Appendix 1) It becomes obvious from the corpus examples that bastard is used for illegitimate children. The most obvious fact is that the use of this sense of bastard is very derogatory, thus, usage labeling in OALD is much more successful than in LDOCE, in my opinion. And this fact often presupposes a somehow informal context, since in formal contexts the speaker usually does not want to express connotations of humiliation etc. However, in my opinion, this is not always the case, that is why lexicographers have not marked the sense as informal, for example. The currency label (old-fashioned) illustrated in both LDOCE and OALD, cannot actually be proved by corpus examples, but by actual everyday usage (which is decreased as time passes). However, the fact that there were very few examples found in Sketchengine, may be a clue of non-currency.
7

MA: 1)

()

In there are five senses of , each one marked by different usage labels by the lexicographer. The first sense is , ( , , ) . .. The sense is followed by both examples and example phrases or collocations and their exact meanings ( , ). This sense is marked by the usage label: . which stands for . It is a matter of attitude (towards the person the sense refers to). The entry begins with the offensive sense but this is just according to the frequency of senses. Below are some corpus examples of this sense: 1. ... 2. 3. ! 4. (See also Appendix 2) In these corpus examples, the speaker uses ( ) in order to offend or disapprove a person. There are also some collocations which are also illustrated in the sense: , (when somebody behaves very violently and inappropriately in order to impose what he wants or behaves with exaggerated audacity). Consequently, the usage label is very successful. However, because of the informal and spoken language and the colloquial style shown in corpus examples, it is my firm belief that the sense should be labeled as spoken or slang ( ). Sense number two in is . . , , . The sense is followed by example phrases and it is marked by the attitude label and the speaker uses this sense in order to approve someones abilities. Below are some corpus examples of this sense: 1. , 2. 3. 4. ., ...... ?
9

5. ! , (See also Appendix 2) In these corpus examples, is used for people who have abilities and are brave. Thus, the attitude label is very successful. But, because of the colloquial style shown in corpus examples, it is my firm belief that the sense should also be labeled as spoken or slang ( ). Sense number three in is o , (, , , , ), , , , . This sense is followed by example phrases. At the beginning of this sense the lexicographer has marked it by the currency label . which stands for . This sense is not used by the majority of speakers nowadays, but of course the concept signified still exists. Furthermore, the lexicographer has assigned another usage label next to the example phrases: . . which stands for . This a very specific context usage label that has to do with lyrics of songs of the Greek language. These lyrics describe people with the same characteristics as those in the definition of the sense. Below are some corpus examples of this sense: 1. , ... 2. , (this is the Greek song used in the examples of the sense) 3. . 4. , (See also Appendix 2) These corpus examples extracted from Sketchengine describe people of the past just like the definition of the sense. However, it is important to clarify that, nowadays, people usually use this sense only to describe the concept signified and that they do not call a person in this sense, because there are no such people nowadays. There is also a corpus example of the song used in the dictionary. Thus, usage labeling in this sense is very successful. The fourth sense is , . The sense is followed by some examples and is marked by the style label . which stands for . This means that the use of this
10

sense presupposes an informal context and contexts with familiar style, and is used specifically as a compliment towards a person. Below are some corpus examples of this sense: 1. , ,... ......... 2. !!! 3. ". 4. ; (See also Appendix 2) As corpus examples prove, this sense is used by a speaker who acknowledges the value of some people and compliments them. There is also a very informal and familiar style where the sense is used. Last but not least, this sense resembles and is very close semantically to sense number two. The fifth and last sense of (not an actual sense since there is no definition) in is very specific and the word is used in order to address directly to a person. Grammatically, the noun is formed in the vocative case ( . ). There are also examples illustrated and the sense is marked by two usage labels .- . which stand for . he first usage label is a matter of style/ register and represents words or senses that are produced mainly by rural people and their style is spoken. The second usage label is also a matter of style/register. This means that the use of this sense presupposes an informal context and contexts with familiar style. Below are some corpus examples of this sense: 1. 2. .. ? ? 3. , (See also Appendix 2) In the corpus examples above, the vocative is used to address directly to a person. Usage labeling is successful in the sense that corpus examples prove the familiar and informal context. However there is no proof that the sense is produced mainly by people in rural areas. This is very controversial and causes some problems. Thus, the general point is that this form and sense is used in a more colloquial way by every person either coming from a rural or from an urban area.

2)
11

[mgas] 2 ( . .) : 1. (, , , .) : , K. ~ . || (.) : ~ / / . Z ~.K , : M . K , . (.) ~, , . . : , ! , , ! K, , . 2. (.) , (. ): ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . A ~, . YK.

( online)

In online there are two senses of , each one marked by different usage labels by the lexicographer. The first sense is 1. (, , , .) , (.) , , . . . There are subcategories of senses within the same definition, each one followed by examples and collocations. Unlike , in the lexicographer has incorporated some senses which are presented separately in . There is also another important point to be mentioned: The first sense here is not clearly marked by usage labels. The lexicographer either marks the sense with some labels within the definition ( ) or believes that the use of the sense becomes obvious by the definition itself. Nevertheless, below are some corpus examples: 1. A , , . 2. , , . 3. () 4.
12

5. , . () 6. . (See also Appendix 2) These corpus examples present as it is defined in the first sense of . wever, as stated before, there are no explicit usage labels assigned, despite the fact that there are some spare words in the definition (for instance ). Thus, the lexicographer should have clearly labeled either the informality or the negative/positive connotations (attitude or style labels), for the user to be able to make decisions about this word. In my opinion, using just some descriptions is not a successful way to deal with senses definitions. Nevertheless, in the second sense in N there is the style label . which stands for . he second sense is , . This usage label means that the use of this sense presupposes an informal context and contexts with familiar tone. Below are some corpus examples: 2. , . 3. MAXI " " . 4. !!! 1. (See also Appendix 2) M is used to address to a persons abilities that are approved by the speaker. Corpus examples also prove the familiar and informal tone marked. Thus, the lexicographer has successfully assigned the style label (.). On the whole, the entries of in and in N, are not organized by the lexicographers in a similar way. The senses and definitions are organized in a different way, yet semantically all meanings are covered by both dictionaries. Thus, usage labels between these dictionaries cannot be compared successfully, but, in my opinion, has more successful usage labels because the senses are better organized and distinguished. Furthermore, in the first sense of there are not usage labels assigned explicitly.

Usage labels assigned to both bastard and by lexicographers in two dictionaries were analyzed and commented, with the guidance of corpus examples extracted from Sketchengine. Regarding bastard, because of the resemblance and
13

similarity of the senses semantically and their similar organization in the two dictionaries, usage labels of LDOCE were analyzed in comparison with those is OALD. Regarding , usage labels were first analyzed in and then in , due to their organizational differences. In conclusion, it is the job of a lexicographer to record the way a language is used and this can be achieved by assigning usage labels. The process of deciding about usage labels is not always a standard process. Some labels should be assigned without second thoughts, whereas some others are depended on what the lexicographer feels, and on what he or she has observed. Yet, these observations might be the lexicographers personal view. Thus, a lexicographer should be very careful with the treatment of usage labels since the use of some of them creates controversy, because some of them involve sensitive social attitudes and parameters. This is because the lexicographer, by assigning labels to words, makes prescriptive decisions on moral issues which function like instructions for the user of the dictionary, and especially for a learner of language. Learners do not possess the knowledge of usage of words subconsciously as native speakers do. Of course, there are many more problems arousing with the treatment and the decision-making process of usage labels: labeling a word as informal or spoken, written or formal, whether assigning usage labels to terminology words or not, since the fact that they belong to a domain becomes obvious just by reading the definition, whether marking a word as slang or spoken, how sure is the lexicographer about a word not being used mainly in a specific geographical area, whether a negative or a positive aspect is also obvious by the definition itself in a sense which is marked by an attitude label etc. Another kind of problem that cannot be predicted is the sues that some lexicographers may deal with when including some insulting words to their work, let alone when not even having marked these words by the appropriate usage labels. Finally, a lexicographer should be careful with assigning labels to the correct senses which is a matter of organization.

14

15