- Lexikologie/Lexicology: Ein internationales Handbuch zur Natur und Struktur von Wörtern und Wortschätzen [An international handbook on the nature and structure of words and vocabularies] ed. by D. Alan Cruse et al.
This collection of 116 articles represents yet another impressive volume from the important series ‘Handbooks of linguistics and communication science’. The second and final volume of this significant reference work, to appear in the not too distant future, is slated to deliver another 135 chapters, and will provide welcome indices of names and topics. Appropriately bilingual, the somewhat cumbersome subtitles of this tome reflect the fact that the articles appear in either German or English. Here, too, lies the focus of most of the examples. The editors (Lutzeier is the General Editor) have assembled a fine team of experts in the various subfields of lexicology research. It would have been helpful if the editors had named those articles that were planned but, for whatever reasons, not completed. Begun in 1993, this encyclopedic project involves contributors from over a dozen nations; articles focus, as indicated above, on German especially (over half of the articles are penned by linguists working in Germany), to a lesser degree on English, and occasionally on other European languages or language families. Examples, tables, and diagrams abound. As a rule, sources listed include recent publications.
The 116 articles are organized into 23 chapters, which in turn are assembled around the following topics: introduction (1 chapter; 1 article), the word (8; 42), form and content (1; 2), lexical units (2; 11), lexical structure (4; 15), and ‘the architecture of the vocabulary’ (7; 45). Under this last heading, we find, for example, the areas of word field study, onomasiological perspective, style (register), and vocabulary for special purposes, including religion, law, professions, institutions, and in (selected) literary authors. Studies dealing with language contact highlight the role that interaction among cultures has played throughout history while demonstrating the enrichment supplied by words from without. The term ‘word’ emerges as one of the most flexible and elusive linguistic entities, with repercussions for philosophy, religion, and psychology. More recent developments in lexicological research, including feminism, cognition research, and transformational grammar, all receive appropriate careful discussion.
Given the detailed structure, repetition of topics and even of some examples is unavoidable. With the indices to be included in Vol. 2, the user should be able to trace connections across this broad field and make useful comparisons among approaches, theories, and languages. Within the articles, cross-references to other articles are very rare, so that a welldone index becomes even more crucial. All in all, the authors have done a superb job of describing their own lexicological topics within the broader context of linguistic inquiry.
Readers familiar with the HSK series will recognize the user-friendly structure of the concise essays, nearly all of which include an outline, an introduction and conclusion, and an up-to-date list of selected research literature. More formal consistency could have been achieved in these listings. A small price to pay for the reader-friendly two-column format are the occasional nonstandard word separations that slipped past proofreaders (as did occasional now outdated references to ‘the present century’). [End Page 796]
As its cousins in the monumental HSK series, this project, when completed, should provide a welcome resource for reference, teaching, and research. It should not be overlooked.