Chapter 10 English dictionaries

1.Types of dictionaries

1) Monolingual dictionaries vs.bilingual dictionaries

  Monolingual dictionaries are written in one language, while bilingual dictionaries are written in two languages.Bilingual dictionaries are of the two types". One is that the entries are defined and explained in the same language with translations.The other is that the entries are defined in one language and given their foreign equivalents.

2)Linguistic and encyclopedic dictionaries

Linguistic dictionaries aim at providing linguistic information about the head words, such as pronounciation, spelling, meaning, part of speech, etc..

Encyclopedic dictionaries are of the two kinds:one is encyclopedia, which aims at providing encylopedic information about the headwords. The other is encyclopedic dictionary, which shares the characteristics of both a linguistic dictionary and an encyclopedia.

3)Unabridged, Desk and Pocket Dictionaries

  An unabridged dictionary is, theoretically, a complete record of all the words in use, though in fact, it is not.

  A desk dictionary is a medium-sized dictionary which usually has a vocabulary of about 50,000 to 150,000.

  A pocket dictionary usually contains a vocabulary of less than 50,000 words. A pocket dictionary usually provides only the information related to pronounciation and spelling.

4)Specialized dictionaries

  Specialized dictionaries usually focus on one area of knowledge. They provide detailed information in a particular subject.

2. Use of dictionaries

1) Choice of dictionaries

  The following factors should be considered:

(1) the dictionary users' level of English  
(2) the kind of information that dictionary users want to consult a dictionary for

(3) the varieties of English

(4) the purpose of consulting a dictionary

(5) the date of publication

3.Three good general dictionaries

1) Longman dictionary of contemorary English ( new edition)
2) Collins COBUILD English Language Dictionary
3)A Chinese-English Dictionary