For a Better Dictionary: Revisiting Ecolexicography as a New Paradigm

Xiqin Liu, Jing Lyu, Dongping Zheng


Driven by practical conundrums that users often face in maximizing (e-)dictionaries as a companion resource, this article revisits and redefines ecolexicography as a new paradigm that situates compilers and users in a relational dynamic. Drawing insights from ecolinguistics and cognitive studies, it appeals for rethinking the compiler–user relationship and placing dictionaries in a distributed cognitive system. A multidimensional framework of ecolexicography is proposed, consisting of a micro-level and a macro-level. To the micro-level, both symbolic and cognitive dimensions are added: (1) the dictionary can be symbolically viewed as a semantic and semiotic ecology; (2) dialogicality should be highlighted as an essential aspect of e-dictionary compilation/design, and distributed cognition can be emancipatory for rethinking dictionary use. The macro-level concerns the obligations of lexicographers as committed to three interrelated ecologies or ecosystems: language, socio-culture and nature. Transdisciplinary in nature, ecolexicography involves a holistic, systematic and integrative methodology to nourish lexicographical practice and research. Corpus-based Frame Analysis is introduced to identify ecologically destructive frames and ideologies so that the dictionary discourse could be reframed. The study upgrades our understanding of the ontological, epistemological and methodological aspects related to ecolexicography, serving as a call for philosophical reflections on metalexicography. It is also expected to create an opportunity for lexicographers to examine problems with (e-)dictionaries in a new light and dialogue about how to find solutions.


e-dictionary; learner's dictionary; semantic ecology; semiotic ecology; ecolinguistics; ecolexicography; dialogicality; distributed cognition; socio-culture; corpus-based frame analysis; metalexicography

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

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