LINGUIST List 14.1993

Wed Jul 23 2003

Sum: Dictionary Presentation of Derived Words

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <>


  1. Bruno Maroneze, Re Linguist 14.1955 dictionary presentation of derived words

Message 1: Re Linguist 14.1955 dictionary presentation of derived words

Date: Tue, 22 Jul 2003 14:35:30 +0000
From: Bruno Maroneze <>
Subject: Re Linguist 14.1955 dictionary presentation of derived words

Dear linguists,

Some days ago I posted the following query to LinguistList:

''In English language dictionaries, derived words are generally
indicated after the primitive word's definition (except when the
derived word's meaning is not the sum of the meanings of its
parts). An example from the ''English Dictionary Concise Edition''
(Geddes & Grosset, 1999): nomad n one of a people or tribe who move in
search of pasture; a wanderer. - nomadic adj. This, as far as I know,
is a tradition only in English language lexicography. I wish to know
when this tradition began (in which lexicographical work), and if
there are dictionaries in other languages which also present derived
words this way.''

I received some interesting answers:

Ed Burstynsky ( reminded me that the
dictionaries don't use the same criteria to separate or put together
these entries. He mentioned that in the latest Oxford Dictionary of
American English there are two separate entries for farm and farmer,
while nomad and nomadic have just one entry.

G. Zuckermann ( said that the Arabic (and Hebrew)
dictionaries list all words under their root, because of the
morphological structure of the language, and this is even more
remarkable than the English case.

Ivan A Derzhanski ( also mentioned the Arabic and
Hebrew dictionaries, and added that Russian dictionaries also put
derived words in the same entry, ''as long as the derived word's
meaning can be calculated straighforwardly''.

Tim Beasley ( also mentioned the Russian
case, as well as Czech, and added that this may be because these
languages have very productive derivational morphological
systems. Besides that, he also mentioned that etymological
dictionaries, in all languages, tend to put the words this way.

So, this is not a tradition from English lexicography, as I
thought. But I still couldn't find when this tradition began. Maybe it
started in many languages at the same time. Another point that could
be discussed is whether this is good or bad for the consultant. But
this is a subject for another query!

Best regards,
Bruno O. Maroneze
University of S�o Paulo - Brazil 
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