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On-line version ISSN 2224-0039
Print version ISSN 1684-4904

Lexikos vol.28  Stellenbosch  2018 




Maria José Domínguez Vázquez, Fabio Mollica and Martina Nied Curcio (Eds.). Zweisprachige Lexikographie zwischen Translation und Didaktik

Maria José Domínguez Vázquez, Fabio Mollica and Martina Nied Curcio (Eds.). Zweisprachige Lexikographie zwischen Translation und Didaktik. Lexicographica. Series Maior 147. 2014, vi + 334 pp. ISBN 978-3-11-036973-1. e-ISBN 978-3-11-036663-1. Berlin/Boston: Walter de Gruyter. Price: 109.95.

This volume contains articles and reports on bilingual dictionaries and their use with a view to foreign language learning, translation teaching and dictionary use. The authors present different theoretical and practical perspectives, with different focal points, thus giving an overview of the current status of and contemporary trends in contrastive lexicography with regard to the learning of foreign languages, the teaching of translation and the use of bilingual dictionaries for these purposes. The volume offers the latest insights into online lexicography, new trends, as well as suggestions for new research.

With the exception of two, all the articles are in German. The introductory article, written by the three editors, serves to set the scene for the entire volume: bilingual dictionaries are once again gaining in importance, because they are crucial in the learning of foreign languages and translation teaching. Looking for the most adequate equivalent, learners do not always have the knowledge and skills to perform the correct user actions. As Schafroth (p. 83) notes, students without training in dictionary use often select the first available translation equivalent, without taking into account the context. This problem reminds me of Jonathan Safran Foer's novel, Everything is Illuminated (2002), where the character of the Ukrainian tour guide/translator always selects the contextually most absurd and incorrect equivalents when he speaks his self-taught English. Learners seem to ignore the available metalinguistic remarks - and even the grammatical information - and fail to orientate themselves towards the structures of the dictionary articles. More and more frequently, learners use online dictionaries and glossaries, which often do not even include such metalinguistic information, exacerbating the problem. Many learners do not acquaint themselves with the user's guidelines. For all these reasons, it is imperative to once again look at the didactics of dictionary use, and incorporate its principles into the didactics of foreign language learning and translation teaching.

Only very few empirical studies are available within this field. In order to deal with this hiatus, this volume concentrates on three important aspects. Part I deals with "Valency, Constructions and Collocations in Bilingual Lexicography", to establish better links between contrastive linguistics and lexicographical practice. Part II is titled "Dictionaries and their Users". Contributors to this section look at bilingual dictionaries as learner's dictionaries, presenting examples of dictionary projects and offering suggestions for improved learning. Part III contains reports on several lexicographical projects, which are planned to offer more opportunities for learners.

Zsuzsanna Fábián's contribution deals with the description of the three word classes (verb, adjective and noun) in general bilingual dictionaries between Italian and Hungarian, and bilingual valency dictionaries with Italian and German as language pair. Fábián points out that as yet no Hungarian valency dictionary in the strict sense of the word has been published. After a short introduction of three comprehensive Italian-Hungarian general dictionaries and three Italian-German valency dictionaries (treating verbs, adjectives and nouns), she focuses on the analyses of the verb fidare (=to trust), the adjective abile (=skillful) and the noun condanna (=condemnation). By taking a look at the methods used by the authors of valency dictionaries, Fábián makes recommendations for an adequate and more user-friendly presentation of valency in general Italian-Hungarian dictionaries. For example, she recommends that lexicographers should include sentence-like structures in the examples; semantic valency should be presented in a more comprehensive and more accurate way, to avoid confusing learners. Lexicographers of bilingual dictionaries should take note of what has been done in valency research. Fábián concludes her contribution with examples of what she considers good examples of valency in a potential Italian-Hungarian bilingual dictionary for learners, using fidare, abile and condanna.

In her contribution, Maria Teresa Bianco discusses the German verb werden (=to become) and its synonyms in Italian, and how different grammar books assign this verb to different verb classes. She asserts that this verb is only very seldom described as a main verb in textbooks - usually it has the status of an auxiliary verb. Moreover, it is not always clear whether the verb werden is considered a main verb or an auxiliary verb. Bianco lists examples from several monolingual German dictionaries and bilingual Italian-German dictionaries which may or may not have adequate information on the usage of the verb werden, and then poses some questions, such as whether werden is monovalent, and if so, whether it is an auxiliary verb or a main verb; and whether it is only used in fixed expressions. She also asks what equivalents are available in Italian in case of a monovalent verb werden, and what a user-friendly entry should look like in a dictionary. According to Bianco, the Valenzwörterbuch Deutscher Verben (=VALBU) and its electronic version (=E-VALBU) could serve as examples. These publications are based on research into the German corpus; they list many meanings of the verb werden and give ample usage examples.

Klaus Fischer deals with the usefulness of presenting valency and information on the construction of phrases in learner's dictionaries for second language learning, in order to establish how helpful existing dictionaries are. He maintains that valency dictionaries often define their target audience as linguists, grammarians, lexicographers, lecturers and authors of text books. Some of them state that they are also meant to be used by advanced foreign learners when they need help in the construction of phrases. But it seems that there are no resources available to foreign learners with little or no linguistic knowledge. Furthermore, almost all the bilingual valency dictionaries that Fischer took into account were conceptualised from the perspective of German valency, and not from the perspective of the other language in the pair.1 This, of course, creates problems for foreign learners, who proceed from the point of view of their own language. Fischer concludes his contribution with presenting a model for an English learner's dictionary of German, based on valency principles and a didactic selection of valency information, which could also be used by learners who do not have extensive linguistic backgrounds. This includes the simple presentation of example sentences and narrative comments.

Elmar Schafroth presents options for the presentation of idiomatic expressions by using a German-French online dictionary as an example. Linking with Goldberg (1995; 2006) and Croft's (2001) grammar of construction and especially Fillmore's (1982) frame semantics, he develops a model of phrase-frames, aiming to describe idiomatic expressions from a holistic point of view. Schafroth uses the example of the French expression chercher midi à quatorze heures (=to complicate things needlessly; to seek a knot in a bulrush) and describes not only its syntactic and semantic-pragmatic aspects, but also morphological, pro-sodic and discursive aspects. He suggests "phrase templates" by means of which lexicographers could present adequate information on the meanings of idiomatic expressions to foreign learners. According to him, the ideal dictionary would be electronic, and would have two monodirectional sections - one with French expressions and one with German - aimed at learners on both sides of the language pair. The descriptions in the French section would mainly be in German, taking German main meanings into account, and including translation possibilities. The German section would be the other way round. Each section aims to help in reception and in production. The phrase-frames could be linked to others of the same type, or with the same or similar meanings. There could be pop-up windows with additional information.

Zita Hollós introduces the KOLLEX Project, which she describes as a bilingual, polyaccessive and polyfunctional syntagmatic learner's dictionary. It is in the first instance production-oriented and based on corpora and data banks of bilingual collocation lexica in German and Hungarian. Its main target group is students studying German at university level, as well as German teachers. The latter group will benefit from using KOLLEX when they are grading their students' assignments. KOLLEX is a combination of a collocation dictionary and a valency dictionary, integrating the didactics of foreign languages, semantics, corpus linguistics and syntax/morphosyntax. Hollós illustrates her exposition with several examples from KOLLEX.

Dirk Siepmann discusses the EMOLEX project, which deals with fields of emotion in French, German and English. He presents a corpus-based analysis of semantic differences between German, English and French collocations of emotion nouns, aiming to determine the translatability of collocations and to possibly close the gaps between the inter-language differences in collocations. The EMOLEX project works with a classification of eight classes of emotion nouns, based on their collocational and colligational behaviour. Some of the problems he discusses have to do with concepts which are unfamiliar in a particular society, but are freely used in another society, and he calls these "collocational gaps". Siepmann states that he found "few significant differences in the distribution of categories" across the languages he investigated, and that there is "comparatively sparse evidence of collocational gaps or interlingual difference" (p. 139). Nevertheless, the examples he discusses point at interesting differences between the three cultures, despite their closeness to each other. According to Siepmann (p.151), a study of Malayan and English emotion nouns denoting the concept "surprise" revealed "considerable divergences" - which makes his investigation fruitful for language pairs with more divergent cultures.

In the second section of the volume, which is titled "Dictionaries and their Users", Monika Bielinska contributes an article about bilingual learner's dictionaries which can support the learning process, in the sense that these dictionaries do not only give support for lexical problems, but they also support learners in grammatical and phraseological matters. She discusses the use of examples and fixed expressions in bilingual dictionaries and maintains that very little theoretical work has been done on this topic. This has resulted in bilingual dictionaries which often do not have a systematic and metalexicographically thought-through method of dealing with usage examples and fixed expressions. Often, idiomatic expressions are given as examples, but without adequate explanations of the meaning. In addition, there is often a lack of typographical markers to point out phrases or examples to the user. Diatopic, diachronic and diastratic markers are often missing; and phraseological false friends and partial equivalences are often not marked as such, to name only a few of the problems. Bielinska suggests that these issues could be adequately addressed in online dictionaries, where space will not be a problem.

María José Domínguez Vázquez, Fabio Mollica and Martina Nied Curcio discuss the problems which arise when students use bilingual online dictionaries for translating sentences with polysemous verbs and verbs which combine with prefixes or particles. The differences in valency of such verbs, which exist between Italian and Spanish on the one hand, and German on the other hand, create translation problems for Italian and Spanish learners of German as a foreign language. For example, in the case of the same main verb, in Italian ascoltare, in Spanish eschuchar, and in German hören, the context determines which German translation equivalent should be used (e.g. zuhören or anhören instead of hören in certain contexts). In spite of the fact that by far the majority of Italian and Spanish students use online dictionaries, they were not very successful in translating the sentences which were requested in the questionnaire they were given, because of valency discrepancies between their native languages and German. From the students' comments on the survey, it also became clear that many of them ignored the grammatical information presented in the dictionaries, or that they did not read through the entire dictionary article. The authors suggest that user-friendly interfaces can be developed in multimedia online dictionaries, ensuring adequate information on the translation of polysemous verbs and verbs combining with prefixes or particles. In addition, students will have to receive better instruction on the use of dictionaries, in order to better interpret the metalinguistic markers, and to incorporate the given information in their tasks.

Luisa Giacoma asks what a dictionary written by users themselves would look like, delving into her personal perspectives as user and lexicographer. She has many years of experience as a lexicographer, especially in the bilingual lexicography of Italian and German. She maintains that many lexicographers do not draw on research done in the field of contrastive lexicology. For example, the treatment of collocations is often very inconsistent in that collocations are often presented as examples, and at other times in separate text blocks, without recognizable reasons for this inconsistency. In addition, bilingual dictionaries do not always give information on the contexts in which the different equivalents should be used. The syntactical context is often missing, and fixed expressions are not treated in a satisfactory manner. Giacoma's Italian-German bilingual dictionaries, done in collaboration with Susanne Kolb, are the first dictionaries in this language pair which are based on linguistic principles. These dictionaries provide explicit and systematic information on how exactly the keywords can and should be combined with other language elements. They contain information on word syntax, combined with collocators, and they include so-called "structural formulas", which give users a good idea of how to produce texts in the foreign language. For example, such a structural example will tell the user whether a verb needs to combine with an object (direct or indirect), with which prepositions it can be linked, the case of the keyword, especially after prepositions, et cetera. In the printed versions of the Giacoma/Kolb dictionaries, the collocators are positioned within curly brackets, and printed in small capital letters; in the online and CD-Rom versions of these dictionaries, the collocations are marked in red.

According to Giacoma, especially the morphology of German is neglected in bilingual dictionaries. This often results in errors by foreign language learners. Electronic data processing will enable more complete information on the inflection of each German word used in the dictionary articles. Dictionary users will then also be able to do searches, by typing in variations of a particular word. Giacoma concludes her list of (already established) wishes for an adequate bilingual dictionary with some promises for her future publications (already in print). Over 600 windows with false friends have been added, and tips on usage as well as notes on cultural differences and abbreviations. Even though these additions could not be made to the printed versions, users can get this extra information in the online version with a simple click. An important addition is also the possibility that users could get online access to data banks where they can get more information. Her aim is, in her own words (p. 244), to present users with a type of "map" for each word, by means of which they can move through the "new landscape" of the second language almost as effectively as native speakers.

The third section of the volume deals with specific current and planned lexicographical projects. Firstly, Rufus Gouws offers several suggestions for the development of bilingual dictionaries, based on Wiegand's approach. Different users may use dictionaries for different purposes. It would be useful if different dictionaries could be derived from one comprehensive data bank or "mother lexicon". Gouws discusses a proposal for a new bilingual dictionary project with German and Afrikaans as language pair. The concept he has in mind, however, can be applied to any language pair. The same metalexicographical principles, which were developed for printed dictionaries, can be adapted and applied to e-dictionaries. Gouws proposes that a single large database, which he calls a "polytypological mother dictionary", can be used to extract different dictionaries, such as dictionaries for secondary school learners, university students, tourists, translators, and people in the field of business. The data, upon being entered, should be marked according to the possibilities of its use in the different dictionaries. For example, a translation equivalent that might be useful for translators (and is marked as such) may be marked differently for use by school learners. Gouws states that research done by Bothma et al. (2012) has identified at least thirty-six fields from which one should make selections per specific dictionary article. One advantage of the existence of such a mother database from which different dictionaries can be extracted is that users could personalise their dictionaries on the basis of their individual needs. They could set up a personal profile, which could be changed according to their specific and changing needs. Gouws states that the planned dictionary will be bidirectional, with two central lists, one in each language, so that both the German and Afrikaans lists can serve as source language and target language. Both the text reception function and the text production function can be addressed. One of the advantages of such an electronic mother dictionary is that one can regularly update terms in the database, devise new types of dictionaries, and change the data presentation in the dictionaries. The examples can have different formats and contents, in accordance with the different usage situations of the dictionaries. Gouws illustrates his exposition of such a mother dictionary with some enlightening examples.

David Lindemann presents an overview of bilingual Basque lexicography from the 19th century up to the present. Although the Basque language is not widely spoken, it has an interesting history of dictionaries and other publications on the language. Basque only became a written language in the middle of the 16th century, and literature and research into the language only came into being in the 17th century on the northern side of the Pyrenees, and only from the middle of the 18th century and especially during the 19th century on the southern side of the Pyrenees. A new electronic dictionary project, called EuDeLex, is currently under way at the University of the Basque Country.

Lindemann discusses several lexicographical products in chronological order, beginning with a Basque-German word list which originated around 1500 for use by pilgrims and authors of glossaries. Some of the dictionaries and publications were between Basque and French, others between Basque and Spanish. Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767-1835) was very interested in the Basque language, and he had a great impact on the linguistic description of this language.

A couple of German-Basque dictionaries appeared in the second half of the 20th century, but there were problems: the one by Löpelmann (1968) was unreliable, containing many errors. A second one, compiled by Helmut Kühnel (1999), was already outdated when it appeared, because it did not take into account the standardised Basque orthography and morphology.

The first German-Basque dictionary to be really useful is the Euskara-Alemana Hiztegia (=EAH, 2007). This is a printed pocket dictionary containing 32 400 lemmas and 4 600 examples and phrases. This dictionary can be seen as the first to save users the trouble to have to consult French-German or Spanish-German dictionaries in order to successfully work in the language pairs German and Basque.

The new EuDeLex electronic dictionary will certainly enhance dictionary use involving the Basque language. Lindemann describes the features of this dictionary, which will also be based on the concept of a "mother lexicon" (Gouws, in this volume). Corpus linguistics is nowadays part and parcel of dictionary compilation. Therefore, this Basque dictionary project will be based on a Basque corpus which is derived parallel to the German corpus that is already available. Lindemann illustrates his discussion with examples of the macrostructure and the microstructure, as well as the treatment of dictionary articles with verbs, adjectives and adverbs. The proposed dictionary will have the advantage that it will be freely available to the public, since it is developed within the framework of a research unit of the University of the Basque Country.

Martin Becker's contribution discusses the smaller Slavic languages and the fact that they often do not have dictionaries, in spite of their extended vocabulary. He starts his discussion by classifying "major" languages as opposed to "medium" and "minor" languages among the Slavic languages. Kashubian and Upper- and Lower-Sorbian are examples of "minor" languages, with only about 50 000 speakers of Kashubian, and 55 000 and 12 000 speakers of Upper-Sorbian and Lower-Sorbian respectively. According to Becker, criteria which determine the "importance" of a language include its status as a language with established literary works, its status as an official language for a state, and the extent to which the language is standardised. The cultural and political significance of the language is also linked to these other factors. The vocabulary of the major languages is usually vast, and one can find a great number of general and special-field dictionaries in these languages.

An interesting phenomenon is the position of a minority language such as Sorbian. The cultivation of minority languages is financially supported in countries such as Germany, Austria and Poland, where lexicographical research is done and dictionaries in these languages are published. Small pockets of speakers of Upper- and Lower-Sorbian live in the federal states of Saxony and Brandenburg in Germany. The Sorbian Institute, based on the Institute for Research into the Sorbian Nation, which was founded in the German Democratic Republic in 1951, undertakes research and advocates the spread of this minority language. This institute publishes in the area of culture, history and linguistics, and over the years, several dictionaries were also published. The same applies to the lexicography of Kashubian: since the 1990s, several dictionaries have been published, including special-field dictionaries, an author's dictionary, a bilingual German-Kashubian dictionary, and many more.

Becker maintains that electronic and online dictionaries hold many possibilities for minority language dictionaries. A multi-language data bank for the Slavic languages could make comparative studies between the Slavic languages possible. Special-field dictionaries would be possible, and they could contain exact explanations of the terms, since space is not a problem. Becker's concept is, of course, applicable to other sets of minority languages in other countries.

In his contribution, Peter Meyer describes the lexicographical process followed during the construction of the comprehensive portal database for the project "Lehnwortportal Deutsch" (=loan word portal German), which is currently being compiled at the Institute for the German Language (IDS) in Mannheim, Germany. This database portal offers several learner's dictionaries in languages such as Polish, Cieszyn Polish and Slovenian, and it concentrates on loan words from German in these languages. It is open to the public on the internet, and allows for extensive search functions, not only in the dictionaries themselves, but also in the database as such. It also contains a so-called "dictionary of origin" ("Herkunftswörterbuch") or "inverted dictionary of loan words", which gives information on the etymology of the German loan words. The lemmas in this etymological dictionary function as etymological "metalemmas", and are considered to be the tertium comparationis of the loan word portal.

The loan word portal is a Java-based web application, developed by the IDS, and the data bank contains individual articles of the different dictionaries of loan words as XML documents. The relationships between the various elements of the dictionary are depicted by means of graphs. The relationships between word forms (for example, between the etymon and the loan word, or between the metalemma and the loan word form) or between different word forms in the different dictionaries are shown by means of arrows, to designate derivations, variations, et cetera. A unique ID number is assigned to each word form before the word form is saved within a nodal chart which shows the relationships.

Carolina Flinz discusses special-field languages as a basis for dictionary compilation by presenting examples from a planned German-Italian online dictionary project called TOURLEX. She states that online special-field dictionaries in the field of tourism only came into being towards the end of the 20th century. Usually they are glossaries or lexicons, without information on mor-phosyntactic issues or collocations. TOURLEX will be freely available on the internet, and it will give information on pronunciation (by means of an audio example), syllable division, word class, gender, number, translation equivalents, syntagmatic information such as collocations, valency items, sentence examples, and paradigmatic items (synonyms). Flinz describes the deliberations in the planning of the lexicon, which include determining the target users, the user situations and the needs of the users. Questionnaires, user protocols and a blog forum for discussion will be used in this process.

TOURLEX will use computer-based criteria: a corpus of special-field texts on tourism will be analysed with Word Smith Tools 3.0., after which the lemma lists in both languages will be compiled. User-friendly effects will be used in the layout, such as colours, different buttons, links between the index and the lemmas, links to external resources, easy-to-use search functions, and possibilities to give feedback to the dictionary team. This concept, as presented by Flinz, can, of course, be adapted and applied to other bilingual special-field dictionaries.

All in all, this volume is of great interest to lexicographers who would like to see how other dictionary makers plan and execute their projects, and how they apply the latest research and trends in their dictionaries. Each contribution has a formidable reference list, which shows that the contributors base their projects on theoretical principles and solid research. The problem of valency, as the overall topic in this volume, is addressed in different ways, but with imaginative efforts to find solutions so that users' needs can be fulfilled in the best possible way. This volume can help us all in our future planning of bilingual dictionaries.

Maria Smit
Independent Lexicographer and Language Practitioner
Princeton, New Jersey
United States of America



Bothma, Theo J.D., Henning Bergenholtz and Rufus H. Gouws. 2012. Filtering, Searching and Navigating for Fixed Expressions. Unpublished Paper Presented at the EUROPHRAS 2012 Conference in Maribor, Slovenia, August 27-31, 2012.

Croft, William. 2001. Radical Construction Grammar. Syntactic Theory in Typological Perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press.         [ Links ]

Curcio, Martina Lucia. 1999. Kontrastives Valenzwörterbuch der gesprochenen Sprache Italienisch Deutsch. Grundlagen und Auswertung. Mannheim: Institut für Deutsche Sprache. CD-ROM.         [ Links ]

EAH = Euskara-Alemana Hiztegia. Martínez Rubio, Elena (Ed.). 2007. Euskara-Alemana Hiztegia. Donostia: Elkar.         [ Links ]

E-VALBU = [Accessed 8 August 2018].

Fillmore, Charles J. 1982. Frame Semantics. The Linguistic Society of Korea (Ed.). 1982. Linguistics in the Morning Calm: 111-137. Seoul: Hanshin.         [ Links ]

Foer, Jonathan Safran. 2002. Everything is Illuminated: A Novel. New York: Houghton Mifflin.         [ Links ]

Goldberg, Adele E. 1995. Constructions. A Construction Grammar Approach to Argument Structure. Chicago: Chicago University Press.         [ Links ]

Goldberg, Adele E. 2006. Constructions at Work. The Nature of Generalization in Language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.         [ Links ]

Kühnel, Helmut (Ed.). 1999. Wörterbuch des Baskischen. Wiesbaden: Reichert.         [ Links ]

Löpelmann, Martin (Ed.). 1968. Etymologisches Wörterbuch der baskischen Sprache; Dialekte von Labourd, Nieder-Navarra und La Soule. Berlin: De Gruyter.         [ Links ]

VALBU = Valenzwörterbuch deutscher Verben. Schumacher, Helmut, Jacqueline Kubczak, Renate Schmidt and Vera de Ruiter. 2004. Valenzwörterbuch Deutscher Verben. Tübingen: Gunter Narr.         [ Links ]



1. According to Fischer, one exception is Curcio's (1999) Italian-German valency dictionary.

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