Essay on History of Dictionaries

Essay on History of Dictionaries

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Regarding the first question, ordinary dictionaries, whether monolingual or bilingual, split up the meaning into individual entries. Though ordinary dictionaries explain the meaning of a word, their effect is limited when it comes to texts. Furthermore, although modern dictionaries are paying increasing attention to collocations, their effect is hampered by their providing a whole range of information about any word beside its collocations. However, recent collocations dictionaries cover a word and its appropriate collocation. In addition, grammatical information is involved in collocation dictionaries by presenting collocations in their most typical forms in context. For example, in the entry for baby, the collocation be teething reflects the fact that this verb is always used in the progressive tenses, (Oxford Collocations Dictionary, 2002: viii).
Since general learner dictionaries may not provide enough information on semi-fixed expressions, learners' errors in this case are expected to increase, (Hunt, 1997:177). McCarthy (1990 in Hunt, 1997) maintains that when students produce errors like John rescued my life, those dictionaries' entries often do not state clearly that it is preferable to say or write John saved my life, to prevent learners from committing this error. However, it may be unreasonable to expect general learners' dictionaries to cover comprehensively many learners' errors. Such information may be better placed in specialized learners' dictionaries which focus on common errors for a special language group such as with Japanese learners or Arab learners. This would be effective especially when the error is due to literal translation. On the other hand, if certain learners' errors such as rescued my l...

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...1999:123) show some examples of Arabic collocational ranges to illustrate that a SL does not match their English counterparts and vice versa:
Table (12) examples of Arabic collocational ranges
Arabic Collocations (SL)
قسمة و نصيب Destiny
قضاء و قدر Fate
حلال و حرام Lawful and unlawful
زيت و زعتر Oil and thymes (zatar)
English Collocations (SL)
Fish and chips سمك و شرحات بطاطا
Bed and breakfast فطور و مبيت
Alive and kicking حي يرزق
As beautiful as a lark مثل القمر
A school of whales سرب حيتان

The literal translation of some English collocations into Arabic or vice versa may produce unnatural and sometimes comic effects. For instance, the literal translation of Alive and kicking حي و يرفس (hayun wa yarfus), As beautiful as a lark جميلة كالقبرة (jammilatun kalquburah), A school of whales مدرسة حيتان (maddarastu hittan), (Farghal and Shannaq, 1999:123).

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