Dictionaries and Language Learners by Philippe Humblé

By Philippe Humblé

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Apart from that, she claims, these dictionaries show gaps in the coverage of neologisms and polysemous words. Additionally, there is at times distortion of the source language part, because of the target language: particular senses of a word are grouped only because they happen to be translated by the same word. Finally, current bilingual dictionaries lack information on collocations and synonyms. These defects, Atkins claims, can be corrected by means of a ‘multilingual hy- 52 DICTIONARIES AND LANGUAGE LEARNERS pertext lexical resource’ using databases in several languages.

This partly explains the tentative nature of many of the findings, which frequently have the status of ‘informed opinion’ rather than valid generalisation. (…) (tests) are more difficult to devise and possibly therefore rarer… Even more complex techniques like controlled experiments have not been used at all. (Hartmann, 1987:27) In my view, questionnaires are to be used with caution for two reasons. First, one assumes the subjects have a knowledge of linguistic concepts and a lexicographic awareness which I think they generally lack.

48 DICTIONARIES AND LANGUAGE LEARNERS 1994; Meara and Nesi: 1994). However, to recommend the teaching of dictionary skills always sounds a little like trying to adapt the user to the washing machine instead of the opposite. In many cases, users are undoubtedly unable to find the information in the dictionary when it is there. In a great many cases, however, the information is not there or lays buried under loads of unwanted information. ” (Rundell, (1999:48) In the case of tests, unlike questionnaires, it is primarily the dictionary which is being evaluated.

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