Dictionaries: A Very Short Introduction by Lynda Mugglestone

By Lynda Mugglestone

Do, or should still, dictionaries keep an eye on language? How do they deal with language switch, either now and some time past? Which phrases do dictionaries pass over - and on what grounds?

Dictionaries are way over works which record the phrases and meanings of a language. during this Very brief creation Lynda Mugglestone indicates that each one dictionaries are partial and all are selective. they're human items, reflecting the dominant social and cultural assumptions of the time within which they have been written.

Dictionaries exist then not just as works which search to rfile language, but in addition as cultural files which are attached to the area within which they have been produced. Exploring universal ideals approximately dictionaries, delivering glimpses of backstage dictionary makers at paintings, and confronting the issues of the way a notice is to be outlined, Mugglestone indicates that dictionaries are regularly, and necessarily, greater than the crafting of an easy checklist of phrases. Concluding with a glance on the variety of recent dictionaries and alterations, from on-line dictionaries akin to urbandictionary.com or wictionary to txt-spk and slang, she finds the debatable nature of the debates approximately communique and language, exhibiting that merely in written and spoken English does the language of dictionaries exist in complete.

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The problem with such statements is the level of generalisation implied. Thorny epistemological debates abound in the social sciences on this issue. Without dismissing the post-modernist emphasis on reflexivity and its concomitants, I uphold the validity of generalisation based on empirical data and supportive evidence. With regard to Greece, notwithstanding identifiable urban/rural, regional, generational and educational differences, generalising statements referring to overall cultural features are common currency in anthropological writing and do not deny the differentiations within the society.

This formulaic disclaimer highlights a key issue in relations of exchange. I suggest that it expresses the reluctance to recognise the debt and the obligation inherent in accepting a gift. This stylistic non-recognition can be contrasted with the conventions of elaborate acknowledgement of the gift in other cultures. Possibly too, this formulaic dismissal of a gift as if it might indicate a deficiency in the host family could reflect pride in the household’s integrity (relating also to Greek village values of the household as a self-sufficient unit, symbolically a cornucopia, see du Boulay 1974: 38–40.

9. The temporal point of reference is the character of Greece’s economy before joining the EU in 1981. Arguments regarding processes of social change cannot be examined here but, in summary form, my contention is that core values, central cultural themes and preoccupations do not change very rapidly. They are, however, pre-eminently flexible, are subject to adaptation and adjustment. Thus, they might seem to change, taking different epiphenomenal expressions which may appear to be “modernising” while in fact the underlying concerns remain the same, cf.

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