Improving the Compilation of English–Chinese Children's Dictionaries: A Children's Cognitive Perspective

  • Dan Zhao School of Foreign Studies, Guangdong University of Finance and Economics, Guangzhou, P.R. China
  • Hai Xu Centre for Linguistics and Applied Linguistics, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, Guangzhou, P.R. China


Children's dictionaries have existed for more than one thousand years in China, and play an important role in children's learning. However, many of those produced in China are defi­cient in the selection of the wordlist, in exemplification, and in definition. This paper aims at improving the compilation of English–Chinese children's dictionaries (ECCDs) from a children's cognitive perspective. Children's dictionaries should not only be an abridgement or simplification of dictionaries for adults, because their target user group is immature, uninformed and untrained children. Informed by some innovations in current English learner's dictionaries, this paper pro­poses that the making of ECCDs needs to be improved in the following aspects. Firstly, instead of lexicographers' intuition, the selection of headwords should be based on an English corpus for Chinese children. Secondly, the words used in examples should be congruent with children's lim­ited cognitive and learning abilities. Thirdly, a multifaceted method of explanation should be pro­vided in order to assist children in understanding the meaning of headwords. Keywords: English–Chinese children's dictionaries, user focus, chil­dren's corpus, headwords, children's cognitive ability, illustrations, examples