Inclusion strategies for multi-word units in monolingual dictionaries

Louw P. (2006)


This article focuses on inclusion strategies for different types of multi-word units, be it as part of the macrostructure or embedded as treatment units in the microstructure of a specific dictionary. The types of multi-word units discussed range from multi-word lexical items to collocations and multi-word compound lexical items. The general principles set out in this article are applied specifically to monolingual school dictionaries that target learners of English in the junior secondary phase. In order to discuss inclusion strategies adequately it is, however, necessary to make a cursory distinction between idioms and collocations, on the one hand, and between collocations and multiword compound lexical items, on the other. It is shown that current monolingual dictionaries often fail to distinguish between these types and therefore apply potentially confusing inclusion strategies. In the discussion of inclusion strategies for multi-word lexical items that follows, it is shown that, whereas loan groups and group prepositions require lemmatisation as full multilexical lemmas, the strategy for idioms is not as simple. The problems with a full lemmatisation of idioms are pointed out and an alternative system, whereby idioms are consistently included as sublemmas with full microsfructural treatment, is proposed. Next it is shown that collocations do not have lexical item status and can therefore not be treated in the same way as multi-word lexical items. However, provision must be made that some collocations may need additional microstructural treatment addressed to them. Lastly, inclusion strategies for multi-word compound lexical items, which frequently occur in English, are discussed. The practice of sublemmatising so-called "transparent" compound lexical items and giving them no or little microstructural treatment, is shown to be inappropriate for school dictionaries. Hopefully the guidelines provided in this article can be of some help in clearing up the muddled approaches currently followed in some South African monolingual school dictionaries.

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