The Application of the Prototype Theory in Lexicographic Practice: A Proposal of a Model for Lexicographic Treatment of Polysemy

Ana Halas


The aim of this paper is to point to fundamental implications of the prototype theory for lexicographic practice using them as a solid foundation for developing and proposing a model for systematic, consistent, precise and, above all, reliable treatment of polysemy in dictionaries. The main requirement of such a model is to make transparent the main features of a polysemous structure including its hierarchical organization, mutual relatedness of senses based on family resemblance and motivated derivation of senses. The proposed model includes three most challenging but key aspects of lexicographic treatment of polysemy: sense discrimination, sense defining and structure and organization of a dictionary entry. The prototype-based view of a polysemous structure is illustrated with a diagram representing a proposed upgrade of the radial set model introduced by Brugman and Lakoff (1988) and providing a pattern for tailoring a dictionary entry for a polysemous word. After practical aspects of the proposed model are explained in detail, an illustration follows setting forth a sample entry for a highly polysemous verb formed according to the proposed model. A solid theoretical foundation of the model is expected to ensure its practical efficiency primarily concerning quick and easy detection and understanding of senses.


lexicology; lexicography; cognitive linguistics; prototype theory; polysemy; dictionary entry; model; sense discrimination; sense defining; entry structure

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

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