Polyseme Selection, Lemma Selection and Article Selection

Henning Bergenholtz, Rufus H. Gouws


In linguistics, more specifically in the field of lexical semantics, a lot of attention has been given to polysemy and homonymy. The identification of and distinction between polysemy and homonymy should not be regarded as unproblematic. The lexicographic practice has traditional ways of presenting and treating polysemy and homonymy. This paper focuses on approaches in both linguistics and lexicography to polysemy and homonymy. Examples from the lexicographic practice are given. It is then shown that that the traditional lexicographic presentation and treatment of homonymy and polysemy in dictionaries with a text reception function, does not really assist the users adequately in their search to find the appropriate meaning of an unfamiliar linguistic expression. It is shown that different dictionaries often have the same lemma selection but not the same selection of polysemes. It is important that a dictionary should correctly coordinate a meaning and a specific linguistic expression. Consequently, a new approach is suggested for the presentation and treatment of homonymy and polysemy. Negotiating criticism expressed in both linguistics and lexicography, it is proposed that the lexicographic practice, in the case of dictionaries for text reception, should abolish the traditional distinction between homonyms as well as the presentation of the different senses of a polysemous word in a single article. Each meaning, whether the only meaning of a lexical item or one of any number of different senses, should be the only item giving the meaning in an article.


article selection; dictionary user; homonymy; lemma selection; lexicography; linguistics; meaning; polyseme selection; polysemy; text production; text reception

Full Text:


DOI: https://doi.org/10.5788/27-1-1396


  • There are currently no refbacks.

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

Creative Commons License CC BY 4.0

Powered by OJS and hosted by Stellenbosch University Library and Information Service since 2011.


This journal is hosted by the SU LIS on request of the journal owner/editor. The SU LIS takes no responsibility for the content published within this journal, and disclaim all liability arising out of the use of or inability to use the information contained herein. We assume no responsibility, and shall not be liable for any breaches of agreement with other publishers/hosts.

SUNJournals Help