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Learners’ Dictionary. Deny A. Kwary www.kwary.net. Today’s Topics. The Objective of Designing MLDs The History of MLDs The Main features of MLDs The Impact of Corpora The Sketch Engine. 1. The Objective of Designing MLDs.

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Learners dictionary l.jpg

Learners’ Dictionary

Deny A. Kwary


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Today’s Topics

  • The Objective of Designing MLDs

  • The History of MLDs

  • The Main features of MLDs

  • The Impact of Corpora

  • The Sketch Engine

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1. The Objective of Designing MLDs

  • The monolingual learners’ dictionary (MLD) is a type of dictionary designed specifically to meet the needs of non-native language learners.

  • MLD is above all an English phenomenon or, even more specifically, a British one.

  • The most powerful stimulus in the development of MLDs has been – and remains – the practical challenge of providing language learners with the resources to meet their twin communicative needs: ‘receptive’ understanding and ‘productive’ use of a second language.

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2. The History of MLDs (1)

  • The foundations of the MLD were laid down in the 1920s and 1930s by a handful of British academics, including Harold Palmer, Michael West, and A. S. Hornby, whose theoretical interests in syntax, phraseology, and what would later be called collocation were motivated above all by their work in English language teaching.

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2. The History of MLDs (2)

  • 1935: New Method English Dictionary (NMED) by Michael West. NMED is a fairly slim volume covering around 18,000 headwords.

  • 1942: Idiomatic and Syntactic English Dictionary by A. S. Hornby. This dictionary then evolved into the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (OALD), which is still the most popular MLD until now.

  • Since the 1970s, Hornby’s dictionary has been joined by several other U.K.-based contenders: the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English (LDOCE, 1978), the Collins COBUILD English Language Dictionary (COBUILD, 1987), the Cambridge International Dictionary of English (CIDE, 1995), and the Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners (MED, 2002).

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3. The Main features of MLDs (1)

The main features for receptive function (helping users understand vocabulary items they have encountered):

  • definitions are written in simple language, typically using a controlled ‘defining vocabulary’ of basic words;

  • phraseology gets special attention: the MLD generally goes further than other types of dictionary in explaining the meanings not only of individual words but also of multiword expressions of every type;

  • aids to navigation are provided (in the form of reduced definitions, appearing as ‘signposts’ or in menus) in order to minimize the known problems involved in locating the ‘right’ information.

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3. The Main features of MLDs (2)

The main features for productive function (helping users to make appropriate lexical choices and then use the chosen item ‘correctly’ and idiomatically):

  • syntactic information provides users with a full account of the valence patterns that a given word or meaning enters into;

  • example sentences are used extensively to show typical contexts of use and provide reliable models for production;

  • considerable attention is paid to sociolinguistic features such as register, regional variety, and speaker attitude;

  • usage notes provide supplementary guidance, e.g., facilitating lexical choices by disambiguating sets of close synonyms or warning against known sources of grammatical error.

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4. The Impact of Corpora

  • Corpus: A collection of written or spoken materials.

    (Corpora is the plural form of Corpus)

  • The sources: magazine articles, brochures, newspapers, lectures, sermons, broadcasts, chapters on novels, etc.

  • The first large corpus of English-language data is The Survey of English Usage.

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The Survey of English Usage

  • The first large corpus of English-language data, compiled in the 1960s.

  • It was directed by Randolph Quirk and based at University College London.

  • It consists of 1,000,000 words taken from 200 texts of spoken and written materials.

  • The texts were transcribed by hand and stored on index cards.

  • In the 1970s the spoken component was made electronically available by Jan Svartvik of Lund University.

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The British National Corpus (BNC)

  • A collaboration between Longman, Oxford University Press, Chambers Harrap (Oxford University Computing Service), The University of Lancaster, and the British Library.

  • Compilation from 1991 until 1994 = 100 million words. Particular attention has been paid to the internal balance of the corpus.

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The Bank of English

  • It was pioneered by John Sinclair and his colleagues at the University of Birmingham, corpus lexicography burst upon the world in the form of the first COBUILD dictionary (1987), and the methodology was quickly taken up by other dictionary developers of all types.

  • At beginning it contained 20 million words.

  • The Bank of English reached 450 million words in 2002.

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5. The Sketch Engine (1)

  • The Sketch Engine is a product of Lexical Computing Ltd., Director:  Adam Kilgarriff.

  • The Sketch Engine (SkE, also known as Word Sketch Engine) is a Corpus Query System incorporating word sketches, grammatical relations, and a distributional thesaurus.

  • Word Sketches have been used as the starting point for high-accuracy Word Sense Disambiguation.

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The Sketch Engine (2)

  • Word Sketches were first used in the  Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners (2002, Edited by Michael Rundell).

  • The SkE is in use for lexicography at  Oxford University Press,  FrameNet, Collins, Chambers Harrap, Macmillan and elsewhere.

  • It is in use for teaching and research at universities and research laboratories in Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain, Taiwan, US and UK.