Reflections on the academic status of lexicography
CITATION: Tarp, S. 2010. Reflections on the academic status of lexicography. Lexikos, 20:450-465, doi:10.5788/20-0-152.
The original publication is available at http://lexikos.journals.ac.za
Two main camps have been formed with regard to the philosophical and academic status of lexicography: one considering lexicography an independent scientific discipline, and the other opposing such a scientific status. This article discusses some of the arguments from the second camp and argues that lexicography should be considered an independent scientific discipline. The argumentation is based on the fact that the subject field of lexicography is different from the subject fields of any other discipline, including linguistics. In this sense, the concept of a lexicographical work is broader than the more reduced concept of a dictionary. Lexicographical works, including dictionaries, are considered cultural artefacts and utility tools produced in order to meet punctual information needs detected in society. In this way, they have during the millenniums covered almost all spheres of human activity and knowledge. The theory and science of lexicography should not focus on the differences regarding the specific content of all these works, but on aspects that unite them and are common to all of them. In this regard, some of the core characteristics of lexicography as an independent discipline are discussed together with its complex relation to other disciplines. Lexicographical theory is understood as a systematic set of statements about its subject field. Finally, the article argues that the fact that this theory may seem too abstract and difficult to some working lexicographers does not in itself invalidate its independent scientific status, although a close relation between theory and practice is recommended.