Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe
On-line version ISSN 2224-7912
Print version ISSN 0041-4751
GOUWS, Rufus H.. Who are the target users of monolingual learners' dictionaries?. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2015, vol.55, n.3, pp.343-355. ISSN 2224-7912. http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/2224-7912/2015/V55N3A2.
Many terms used in the era prior to the emergence of a general theory of lexicography are still in frequent use in the lexicographic practice and in theoretical discussions, albeit that these terms have not all been allocated a definition that accurately reflects their use in lexicography. This paper offers a critical discussion of monolingual learners' dictionaries, and emphasises the fact that the term monolingual learners' dictionary has not been defined in a scientifically sufficient way because the nature of the learner in this learners' dictionary has not been appropriately described. These dictionaries are primarily directed at learners of a foreign language, and the needs of these users with regard to the foreign language are at the centre of theoretical and practical work in this component of lexicography. However, the users of monolingual learners' dictionaries often have different mother languages. Unfortunately little or no attention is given to the mother language of these users and the implications it has for their successful use of monolingual learners' dictionaries. As a result of this failure, the lexicographic practice produces dictionaries that do not take cognizance of some of the real needs of the users of monolingual learners' dictionaries. A brief discussion of the introduction of learners' dictionaries to the typological spectrum is followed by a discussion of some significant features of this dictionary type. The focus is then shifted to the need for better user-directed monolingual learners' dictionaries. It is shown how the mother language of users can demand more guidance in learners' dictionaries with regard to the presentation and treatment of false friends and culture-bound lexical items. More attention should be given to language influence and language interference between the language treated in the dictionary and the mother language of intended target users. Proposals are made for a better model for monolingual learners' dictionaries. In printed dictionaries a well-devised data distribution structure should introduce the use of extended obligatory microstructures in order to complement the generic and default data with data directed at the needs of users with specific mother languages. Utilising a drawer structure, outer texts could be included with data regarding a selected number of languages that are mother languages of the intended target user group. Online dictionaries offer better possibilities to solve the problem of users with different mother languages that consult the same generic monolingual learners' dictionary. The planning of these dictionaries could make provision for the use of a single data bank from which different user-directed variants of the dictionary can be retrieved. Following the user profile specified by each user, the generic data and treatment can be retrieved. If a user has specified a specific mother language in his/her user profile, the generic data will be complemented by data relevant to the specific mother language. For a single guiding element, different partial articles can be retrieved as screen shots, and the user can switch from a default profile to a language-specific profile. In such a case, the default data will be complemented by additional data, with unique items presented in an extended obligatory microstructure. The inclusion of data regarding different mother languages of the users of the monolingual learners' dictionaries leads to a question regarding the monolingual nature of such a dictionary. Following the established notion of monolingual dictionaries with a bilingual dimension, this paper argues in favour of a monolingual learners' dictionary with a multilingual dimension. By making provision not only for the needs of users with regard to the foreign language they have to learn, but also for the problems due to different mother languages within a single user group, a model can be developed that will enhance the quality and user-directedness of monolingual learners' dictionaries.
Keywords : article structure; culturally-bound lexical items; data distribution; drawer structure; extended obligatory microstructure; false friends; language influence; learners' dictionary; monolingual learners' dictionary; online dictionary; user needs.