Focus on the User: Front Matter in Slovenian Dictionaries

  • Marjeta Vrbinc Department of English, Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia
  • Alenka Vrbinc Faculty of Economics, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia
Keywords: front matter texts, user guide, graphic presentation of entries, intelligibility, usefulness, examples, linguistic terms, syntax


This article focuses on the front matter texts of three Slovenian monolingual dictionaries: Dictionary of Standard Slovenian, Dictionary of Slovenian Synonyms and Dictionary of Legal Terminology. We asked thirty-two MA students of English at the University of Ljubljana to read the front matter texts and comment on intelligibility of the text, usefulness of the text from the point of view of intended users, language used in the text, examples provided to illustrate the theoretical explanation and length of the text as a whole. According to the majority of the students, the front matter texts of all three dictionaries use terminology known only to linguists. They also frequently comment on the length and complexity of sentences, information overload and the indirect inclusion of examples that illustrate the theory. Apart from being critical of the texts, they point out what they like (the front matter texts in all three dictionaries are well-structured, as they are divided into sections and subsections, thus enabling easy access to relevant information within the text) and give proposals for improvement of the text (rearrangement of various sections, the use of Slovenian terms instead of borrowings, the use of paraphrases instead of terms, shorter sentences and simpler syntax).