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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

On-line version ISSN 2224-7912
Print version ISSN 0041-4751


BEYER, Herman L.. A general typology of lexicographical labels. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2011, vol.51, n.3, pp.419-446. ISSN 2224-7912.

This article develops and presents a typology of lexicographical labels with the focus on standard bilingual dictionaries. Generally, a lexicographical label can be described as a meta-entry in a dictionary article which indicates to the dictionary user that the entry it is addressed to represents an element of some form of marked language usage, for example informal language, jargon, geographical variation and temporal variation. Lexicographical labels contextualise their addresses in terms of actual language usage and therefore provide important pragmatic guidance to the dictionary user, thereby promoting communicative success. They have a long history and have not only become a lexicographical tradition, but also an indispensable instrument of description for the lexicographer. This article takes cognisance of an initial definition of lexicographical labels, the fact that a number of typologies of lexicographical labels have been proposed and the concept ofmarkedness as it pertains to language usage. With regard to existing typologies, it is noted that while they are more or less similar at the superficial level, there are significant differences in deeper classificationsand subclassifications. The literature suggests that this is the result of general confusion and a lack of consensus about the use of lexicographical labels and the pragmatic parameters that they represent, which is in turn caused by the absence of a theoretical basis for their classification and standardisation. Hence, the initial definition and the concept of markedness represents the point of departure for developing precisely such a theoretical basis. The concept of markedness is extended to lexicographical markedness, since what is regarded as linguistically marked is not necessarily marked for lexicographical purposes. A different set of norms have to be applied when deciding if a source or target language entry should be labelled. This implies that the linguistic markedness of a lexical item does not presuppose its labelling in a dictionary. The norms which should be applied to determine lexicographical markedness, and as such define lexicographical labels, include (i) the dictionary type, as a product of the purpose, function(s), typical usage situation and target user profile of the dictionary, which includes referential equivalence and translingually transposed lexicographical markedness in the case of a bilingual dictionary; (ii) certain linguistic criteria that apply to linguistic markedness, like usage restrictions pertaining to specific domains as well as relevant formal and stylistic criteria; (iii) the dictionary-specific context. Based on these norms, the following typology of lexicographical labels is proposed: Lexicographical labels Main class 1: Domain labels, which indicate that specific source and target language elements belong to a specific domain     1(a): Geographical labels, which indicate spatial distribution, for example British English   1(b): Temporal labels, which indicate marked temporal status       1(b)(i): Periodicising labels, which indicate specific source and target language elements' marked usage relative to contemporary language usage, for example archaic, old and neologism.     1(b)(ii): Historical labels, which mark specific source and target language elements that refer to referents which existed earlier but currently do not exist any longer, for example historical.     1(c): Frequency labels, which indicate marked usage frequency       1(c)(i): Absolute frequency labels, like rare       1(c)(ii): Relative frequency labels, like less frequently used     1(d): Technical labels, which indicate specific source and target language elements' term status in particular specialisation areas, for example medical and soccer     1(e): Cultural labels, which indicate the culture-specificity of particular source and target language elements, for example German cultural tradition Main class 2: Linguistic labels, which indicate specific source and target language elements' linguistic exceptionality in terms of the dictionary type Main class 3: Stylistic labels, which indicate specific source and target language elements' stylistic markedness   3(a): Register labels, which mark specific source and target language elements that belong to a specific situation or set of circumstances, for example journalese and poetic   3(b): Socio-stylistic labels, which indicate the suitability of specific source or target language elements at a specific style level, for example formal and vulgar   3(c): Stylistic-functional labels, which indicate the marked and deliberate conversational implicatures that specific source and target language elements can represent, for example euphemism and racist It is emphasised that the proposed typology is not necessarily exhaustive, nor should it be regarded as prescriptive or rigoristic. All identified classes are open classes, meaning that new elements can be added as knowledge about labels and pragmatic data in dictionaries expands. Rather, the typology should be seen as a functional product of scientific description. Regardless of the typology or the typological framework that a dictionary's editorial team may select for any planned dictionary, one requirement remains constant for a user-friendly dictionary, namely that the target user should be empowered, through the user guide (and other dictionary components, where appropriate), to functionally interpret any label that might appear in the dictionary. Aligning these features to the purpose and function(s) that have been identified for a dictionary in the planning stages as part of the dictionary plan would ensure communicative equivalence in the dictionary and result in successful lingual communication. Although the typology has been developed with the focus on standard bilingual dictionaries, it can ideally be utilised for any dictionary type.

Keywords : domain label; labelling; label typology; lexicographical label; lexicographical markedness; lexicography; linguistic label; macrostructure; markedness; microstructure; pragmatic data; standard bilingual dictionary; standard variety; stylistic label; technical label.

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