On recent proposals to abolish polysemy and homonymy in lexicography

Beyer, Herman L. (2018)

CITATION: Beyer, H. L. 2018. On recent proposals to abolish polysemy and homonymy in lexicography. Lexikos, 28:1-31, doi:10.5788/28-1-1456.

The original publication is available at http://lexikos.journals.ac.za


Two articles appeared recently in Lexikos that propose the abolishment of homonymy and polysemy in lexicography, particularly in dictionaries with a text reception function only. This contribution identifies two main theoretical premises of the proposal in these articles and chal-lenges them. They are: (i) a theory of the lemma as linguistic sign; and (ii) the results of dictionary criticism. Under examination, it is found that both premises fail to support the proposal with regard to polysemy. With regard to homonymy, the first premise is proven invalid, and the second is found to be valid. This implies that the theoretical basis for the proposal should either be reviewed (for which the lexicographical communication theory is offered), or the proposal should rely on the sole practical and unproven argument of data accessibility. The contribution simultane-ously develops a potential broad framework for the lexicographical communication theory. The framework constitutes a lexicographical text grammar, which is presented as a parallel communi-cation code to elements of the lexicographic text theory and linguistic grammars. It is argued that dictionary articles constitute texts in which these two grammars overlap to varying degrees, repre-senting a hybrid form of textual communication.

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