The Lexicography of English

ISBN : 9780198299677

Henri Bejoint
520 ページ
177 x 253 mm

This book looks at how English words have been recorded, ordered, dissected, and displayed in dictionaries in Great Britain and the USA from the seventeenth century to the present. In the process it offers a complete introduction to how dictionaries are made. It considers the aims of their authors, the methods of their compilation, and the concepts and beliefs that lie behind them. Henri Bejoint compares the descriptive approach of English lexicography with its more prescriptive American counterpart, and contrasts both with the lexicography of France. Computers have transformed the way dictionaries are produced and presented. Yet, as the author shows, many aspects of lexicography have hardly changed over the centuries: the challenge of distinguishing a word's senses, for example, and of tracing the history of its forms and uses. Problems equally remain: how to treat taboo-words and insults is as difficult as it ever was and the nature of meaning is subject still to fierce debate. The history of lexicography is characterized by the ambitions and achievements of great eccentrics and yet greater intellects. Johnson, Webster, and Murray stalk these pages with a host of scholars and enterpreneurs: Professor Bejoint vividly documents their lives and deftly takes apart their work. "Dictionaries are an endless source of enjoyment," he writes, "and perhaps the most important object of this book is to try to persuade the reader that lexicography is a fascinating domain." He triumphantly succeeds.


1. Dictionaries and The Dictionary
2. A Brief History of English Dictionaries
3. The British Tradition of the Scholarly Dictionary
4. The American Tradition of the Utility Dictionary
5. A New Tradition: the Dictionary for Foreign Students
6. English Dictionaries of the Twentieth Century: the Cultural, the Functional, and the Scientific
7. The Study of Dictionary Users and Uses
8. Lexicography and Linguistics
9. Computers and Corpora in Lexicography
10. A Theory of Lexicography?
1 Dictionaries
2 Other Works


Henri Bejoint is Professor Emeritus at the University of Lyon. In 1997-8 he was President of the European Association for Lexicography. He has published extensively on lexicography in French and English, including Tradition and Innovation in Modern English Dictionaries (OUP 1994) and, with Richard Wakely, French Usage (OUP 1996). With Phillippe Thoiron he is co-editor of Les Dictionnaires Bilingues (Duculot 1996) and Le Sens en terminologie (Presses Universitaires de Lyon 2000) and, with Francois Maniez, of De la mesure dans les termes (Presses Universitaires de Lyon 2005).