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REVIEW ARTICLE Approaches to Meaning and Their Uses in Lexicography Sidney I. Landau Jerzy Tomaszczyk and Barbara Lewandowska-Tomasczcyk's Meaning and Lexicography (Amsterdam and Philadelphia, 1990) consists of a collection of invited papers presented at an international conference at the University ofLodz, 19-21 June, 1985. Robert Burchfield has written the opening remarks (unaccountably called a Preface instead of a Foreword, which name is given to an editor's note describing the conference). Burchfield's comment is followed by a detailed introduction by the editors in which each paper is usefully summarized (very usefully—more about this in a moment). The nineteen papers in the volume are grouped under four headings: 1. General Foundations and a Historical Perspective; 2. Word Formation and Syntax; 3. Semantics and Pragmatics (by far the longest); and 4. Diachrony. I will reserve my general comments for the end of this review, but it must be noted at the outset that this is not an easy book to read. A number of the papers employ diction that is alien to English and a vocabulary that only cognitive linguists know, and sprinkle the whole with copious, unnecessary, parenthetical references every few phrases. The numerous typographical errors do not help, and the editing throughout is poor. There is no indication of the affiliations of any of the contributors, nor is one given a clue as to who might be a practicing lexicographer and who a linguist or cognitive scientist or philosopher. Such information would have been helpful since no one can be equally expert in all the disciplines embraced by this volume, and one could at least begin reading each paper within a frame ofreference . The summary in the editors' introduction must therefore often be consulted to find out what the author is talking about. The sensation, in the worst cases, is that of flying through dense fog that 92Sidney I. Landau now and then lifts to reveal a glimmer of land and sea, only to evaporate again with the next onrush ofdeep obscurity. The editors' summaries thus serve as a kind of electronic beacon to put one on automatic pilot for a while until one can get one's bearings. Part 1: General Foundations and a Historical Perspective "Metaphysics ofthe Dictionary versus the Lexicon," by Miroslav Nowakowski, introduces this section. The substance of the argument is that interest in the lexicon has been stimulated in the last decade (1975-85) by debate over the role of semantics in syntax and by criticism of the methodological inadequacy of current linguistic models dealing with morphology and lexical semantics. It is most unfortunate that this paper is first in the volume, because it is an impenetrable bramble ofjargon, poor command of the English idiom, and nonexistent copy-editing. Here is a sample of the writing: JackendofPs (1983) operations on conceptual structures with his powerful preference rule systems are able to take care of any type ofcomputation provided that the linguist is interested in the interpretation (understanding) of the computation's outcome only. These rules do not feed the lexicon. Thus, they are unable to distinguish, as 'real' speakers are, which operations are lexical and which, for instance, sentential in nature. (6) It would be a shame ifreaders were discouraged from reading on, because although several of the succeeding essays also share some of these characteristics, none is so consistent in applying bad English to what one suspects is an inherently difficult subject. Joanna M. ChannelPs "Vocabulary Acquisition and the Mental Lexicon" makes the case, on psycholinguistic grounds, for renewed emphasis on teaching vocabulary as an independent activity. The author discusses the contrasting uses of the mental lexicon in production and comprehension. In producing a word, the speaker begins with a store of meanings that must be represented as sounds; in comprehending , the listener interprets sounds in patterns that can be interpreted as having meaning. This is true of both Ll and L2 (first language and second language) users. Studies of vocabulary acquisition have focused primarily on Ll users. Knowledge of how L2 users represent the lexicon mentally is still extremely limited, but it is an intriguing question. Much of what is known about L2 users depends on the kinds...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2160-5076
Print ISSN
0197-6745
Pages
pp. 91-114
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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