LINGUIST List 29.624

Wed Feb 07 2018

Books: The Unmasking of English Dictionaries: Dixon

Editor for this issue: Michael Czerniakowski <>

Date: 07-Feb-2018
From: Louise Bowes <>
Subject: The Unmasking of English Dictionaries: Dixon
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Title: The Unmasking of English Dictionaries
Published: 2018
Publisher: Cambridge University Press

Book URL:

Author: R. M. W. Dixon
Paperback: ISBN: 9781108433341 Pages: Price: U.S. $ 24.99
Paperback: ISBN: 9781108433341 Pages: Price: U.K. £ 19.99
Paperback: ISBN: 9781108433341 Pages: Price: Europe EURO 23.33

When we look up a word in a dictionary, we want to know not just its meaning but also its function and the circumstances under which it should be used in preference to words of similar meaning. Standard dictionaries do not address such matters, treating each word in isolation. R. M. W. Dixon puts forward a new approach to lexicography that involves grouping words into 'semantic sets', to describe what can and cannot be said, and providing explanations for this. He provides a critical survey of the evolution of English lexicography from the earliest times, showing how Samuel Johnson's classic treatment has been amended in only minor ways. Written in an easy and accessible style, the book focuses on the rampant plagiarism between lexicographers, on ways of comparing meanings of words, and on the need to link lexicon with grammar. Dixon tells an engrossing story that puts forward a vision for the future.

Prologue: the work in advance
1. How the language is made up
2. What a dictionary needs to do
3. Semantic set: finish, cease, and stop
4. Explaining hard words
5. Putting everything in
6. Semantic set: big and little, large and small
7. Spreading wings
8. Semantic organisation
9. Semantic set: fast, quick, rapid, swift, slow, and speed
10. No need to keep re-inventing the wheel
11. The nineteenth century
12. Semantic set: want, wish (for), and desire
13. The role of grammar
14. Standing still
15. The way forward.

Linguistic Field(s): Lexicography

Subject Language(s): English (eng)

Written In: English (eng)

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---------------------------------- Publishing Partner ----------------------------------
Cambridge University Press

----------------------------- Major Supporting Publishers -----------------------------
Akademie Verlag GmbH
Bloomsbury Linguistics (formerly Continuum Linguistics)
Cambridge Scholars Publishing
Cascadilla Press
Classiques Garnier
De Gruyter Mouton
Edinburgh University Press
Elsevier Ltd
Equinox Publishing Ltd
European Language Resources Association (ELRA)
Georgetown University Press
John Benjamins
Lincom GmbH
MIT Press
Multilingual Matters
Narr Francke Attempto Verlag GmbH + Co. KG
Oxford University Press
Palgrave Macmillan
Peter Lang AG
Routledge (Taylor and Francis)
University of Toronto Press

--------------------------- Other Supporting Publishers ---------------------------
Association of Editors of the Journal of Portuguese Linguistics
International Pragmatics Assoc.
Linguistic Association of Finland
Morgan & Claypool Publishers
Netherlands Graduate School of Linguistics / Landelijke (LOT)
Seoul National University
SIL International Publications
Universitat Jaume I
University of Nebraska Press
Utrecht institute of Linguistics

Page Updated: 07-Feb-2018