Vol. XXV Nr. 1

DOI: 10.31178/BWPL.25.1


Editor: Ruxandra Vișan

Marinela Burada and Raluca Sinu

Prescriptivism in lexicography. A bird’s-eye view

Abstract: This paper considers the relation between prescriptivism and descriptivism in practical lexicography. Using data extracted from two major dictionary projects conducted in different cultural contexts, we argue that these notions are easier to tease apart in theory than in practice. First, we point at the mismatch between the linguistic neutrality aimed for by lexicographers and the authority status conferred on dictionaries by the general public. We then posit that the labels descriptive, prescriptive cannot apply to a dictionary as a whole since, in the process of dictionary making, some tasks are factual and objective, while others call for the lexicographer’s ruling on what is right or wrong in terms of language use. It is such rulings and the factors that determine them that are the focus of attention here, in keeping with the places in which they are likely to occur: the front matter, the macrostructure, and the microstructure of the dictionary.

Keywords: monolingual dictionary, prescriptivism, descriptivism, front matter, usage label

Anca Focșeneanu

Words of Japanese origin in Romanian dictionaries of recent words

Abstract: In this study, we discuss the status and features of the words of Japanese origin in Romanian, based on Romanian dictionaries of neologisms and recent words. Several studies on different types of dictionaries of European languages show that, in recent decades, most borrowings into Western languages from a language outside the Western cultural space come from Japanese. A careful analysis demonstrates that this tendency can be also identified in the recent lexical dynamics of the Romanian language. First, we outline the context and objectives of the paper and discuss some terminological issues. This is followed by a short historical background and a presentation of the Romanian dictionaries used to collect the corpus. Quantitative information is provided regarding the data from each dictionary. Finally, we proceed to a qualitative analysis of the data.

Keywords: Romanian, Japanese, lexical borrowing, assimilation, dictionaries of recent words

Rita Quieroz de Barros

Beyond the descriptive-prescriptive cline: Encoding language ideology in Hobson-Jobson, a Victorian dictionary of Indian English

Abstract: This paper considers the presence of language ideology in dictionaries through both prescriptive bias and descriptive procedures. To that purpose, it examines the example provided by Hobson-Jobson, a dictionary of Indian English first published in England in 1886, and it investigates how this work encodes imperialistic language ideology. Two major tenets of Victorian language ideology are considered in particular – standard British English superiority and the global status of English – and shown to be overtly or covertly reflected in both the paratexts (title, preface, introductory remarks) and lexicographic text (word list, definitions and translated illustrative quotations). Ideological stance is thus identified in both prescriptive and descriptive procedures, and Hobson-Jobson is thus shown to be a good example of how the ideological bias in dictionaries extends beyond the descriptive-prescriptive cline.

Keywords: Hobson-Jobson, language ideology, world English, descriptivism, prescriptivism

Ilinca-Simona Ionescu

Social boundaries: The lexicographic evolution of Spanish household spirits in discourse

Abstract: This paper constructs a diachronic analysis of the lexicography of the term denoting the Spanish household spirit, the duende, focusing on the period between approx. 1490 and 1791. I aim to analyse the linguistic path of the household deity in discourse, in order to see how its depiction has changed. The evolution of the being reflects upon the social perception of the spirit, but also upon societal changes. Cultural associations readily available to the authors of the dictionaries under analysis reveal themselves in the alternation between “low-brow”, folkloric beliefs, and the “high-brow”, learned representations of these beliefs. The many facets of the lexicographic entry help create the discourse surrounding the duende, which is essential for the making of a folkloric being. Particularly, the duende is a “small god,” as coined by Michael Ostling, denoting pagan deities that survived the transition towards Christianity through novel interpretations, mostly demonic or classical.

Keywords: duende, diachronic lexicography, demonology, small gods, folklore

Anda Dimitriu

A Gothic dictionary

Abstract:  The present work takes into consideration the Historical Dictionary of Gothic Literature which was compiled by William Hughes in 2013. Since this is a historical dictionary of literature, the entries encapsulate both concepts and the names of significant figures or works, all alphabetically organized, but lack any descriptions of lexical category or morphological features, focusing instead on the vast context in which each item could and should be used within this specialized context. Following the premise that the Gothic should be considered a “language” rather than a literary genre, this article analyses, within the parameters of metalexicography, the features of the eclectic entries, as well as the importance of William Hughes’ choices for the field of the Gothic in general. Moreover, the second part of this work deals with Hughes’s explanations for controversial terms in the field of the Gothic, which should be read as prescriptive comments for the literature.

Keywords: Gothic, literary dictionary, metalexicography, prescriptive comments

Andreea Moruzan

Labelling food-related slang terms for nationalities in learner’s dictionaries of English

Abstract: The present paper attempts to highlight the problems related to the usage label “slang” and to usage notes indicative of negative connotations (“offensive”; “disapproving”; “derogatory”) for certain words, taking into account monolingual dictionaries for learning English. The aim of the analysis is to investigate if there is any consistency in the labelling policy of these dictionaries, since some compilers emphasize that the definition of the slang term is sufficient to convey its negative connotations and does not require a label. In order to accomplish this goal, a corpus consisting of a series of twenty slang terms for nationalities will be taken into consideration. The paper will examine whether the label “slang” fluctuates in these dictionaries for learning English. It will also argue that the results of an analysis of labelling practices in dictionaries are essential because they provide an overview of perspectives towards slang and a possible response to the issue of whether the current lexicographic labelling system is appropriate.

Keywords: usage label, slang, derogatory language, English Learner’s Dictionaries

Ruxandra Vișan

Complex aspects of hate speech and their problematic representation in dictionaries

Abstract: The paper discusses an official response provided by the spokesperson of the Romanian Orthodox Church (ROC), addressing previous criticism by a popular Romanian journalist of several statements by Patriarch Daniel, the head of the ROC. Taking its cue from previous research by van Dijk (1995), the paper examines the lexical choices in the representation of an outgroup in the text, which include the abundant use of derived words based on a rich range of negative prefixes, most of which are salient to Romanian speakers. Emphasizing the role played by these evaluative prefixes to create “epithets” which target the group represented as holding views different from those of the Romanian Orthodox Church, the paper argues that the text, which does not include direct insults, and which relies on “sarcastic irony” (Dynel 2016), emerges as an instance of covert hate speech. The paper goes on to discuss the role of Romanian dictionaries in identifying instances of “overt” and “covert” hate speech.

Keywords: covertness, hate speech, epithet, ideology, lexical negation, prefixation, dictionary


Chris Cummins and Napoleon Katsos (eds.). The Oxford Handbook of Experimental Semantics and Pragmatics. (Reviewed by Huan Xu)

Paula Rautionaho, Hanna Parviainen, Mark Kaunisto and Arja Nurmi (eds.). Social and Regional Variation in World Englishes. Local and Global Perspectives. (Reviewed by Ruxandra Drăgan)

Previous Article
Next Article