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Electronic Lexicography ed. by Sylviane Granger and Magali Paquot (review)
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Electronic Lexicography is a collection of 20 previously unpublished articles on several aspects of dictionaries in electronic format. Both editors are affiliated with the Centre for English Corpus Linguistics at the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium. Sylviane Granger is a senior researcher in Europe who is perhaps best known for her work on phraseology and for leading a large European initiative on English learner corpora, and Magali Paquot is a research fellow at CECL whose work concentrates on English in academic settings. It is beyond the scope of this review to provide details on each of the contributions; rather, I will try to provide a more general picture of the volume as a whole.

The book is divided into three parts and is preceded by an excellent brief introduction by Sylviane Granger (“Electronic lexicography—from challenge to opportunity,” which should be read before tackling any of the articles). Part I is entitled “Lexicography at a watershed” and discusses the wide-ranging effects on dictionary design and production brought on by the change from printed books to electronic consultation. This section contains six papers. Part II, entitled “Innovative dictionary projects,” contains seven papers that discuss several projects on French, English, Danish Sign Language, as well as use of FrameNet in dictionary projects and collaborative dictionaries such as Wiktionary. Part III, “Electronic dictionaries and their users,” contains six chapters and concentrates on how dictionary design addresses user needs and how dictionaries can be improved in this respect. The volume includes a consolidated bibliography, an Author Index and a Subject Index. The fact that the editors have included many cross-references to articles in the book helps the reader to obtain a good, general view of the field.

Different readers with different backgrounds, of course, will be more or less interested in the dictionaries discussed. The chapters in Part I should be of interest to anyone interested in electronic dictionaries, while those in Part II, and Part III to a lesser extent, discuss specific dictionary projects which may or may not be of interest to everyone.

In Part I, I particularly recommend the chapters by Michael Rundell (pp. 15-30) and Patrick Hanks (pp. 57-82) because the issues that they discuss face every dictionary project, and their hands-on experience in editing large dictionaries resounds in every paragraph and nicely contrasts with the perspective of academic researchers. I would also recommend Sven Tarp’s paper (pp.107-118), which clearly presents the functional theory he has been associated with for some years. Even though I personally have many objections to the approach he and others of the Centre for Lexicography at the University of Aarhus have developed, essentially because I do not share their idea of “theory,” the fact that Tarp’s view has been included here contributes to the wide variety of perspectives represented.

The book makes an admirable effort to broaden the perspective on electronic dictionaries from that of English learner’s dictionaries published in Britain. I found the chapter on lexicography in South Africa (by D. J. Prinsloo) and that on the Danish Sign Language Dictionary (by Jette H. Kristoffersen and Thomas Troelsgård) particularly informative, given my lack of knowledge of dictionaries in those contexts. I was especially happy to see that the editors included chapters on “alternative e-dictionaries,” which are widely consulted by students but often condemned by teachers, and on dictionaries for translators (the chapters by Hilary Nesi and Lynne Bowker, respectively). Since most of the research presented in this volume is associated with European universities, it is not surprising that there is little mention of electronic lexicography based in the U.S., although several authors do, in fact, refer to the FrameNet project (which, at least in my view, is not a lexicographic project). Nevertheless, the importance of websites such as www.wordreference.com and www.visualthesaurus.com, not to mention the online versions of major American dictionaries such as the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language or those published by Merriam-Webster, Inc., is such that some discussion of research and commercial initiatives carried out on “the other side of the pond” would have strengthened the volume.

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