Developing The Presentation of Word Formation in General Monolingual Dictionaries

Henning Bergenholtz, Rufus H. Gouws


Word formation in the dictionary belongs, at the latest since the contribution of Mug­dan (1984), to the topics frequently discussed by lexicographers. Unfortunately the results have not always been satisfactory. This applies both to the formulation of lexicographic theory and to the lexicographic practice because the lexicographic terms have the linguistic terms as point of depar­ture and questions are put as to how these phenomena should be presented in dictionaries. Instead, one should rather ask which information needs dictionary users experience in which types of user situations and then decide where and how items giving word formation can be presented in order to benefit the envisaged target user of a given dictionary.

The lexicographic practice is also in an unsatisfactory position with regard to items giving word formation because the typical polyfunctional dictionaries have too many items giving word formation for text reception problems and far too few for text production problems or for the real general knowledge needs regarding word formation in the specific language. This paper gives suggestions regarding the theoretical approaches that could lead to a better user-directed lexico­graphic practice.


afrikaans dictionaries, cognitive function, complex form, com­pound, derivative, dictionary function, electronic dictionaries, text production, text reception, user needs, word formation

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ISSN 2224-0039 (online); ISSN 1684-4904 (print)

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