Monday 10th July (a.m.) 2000

Trinity College, University of Melbourne

Part of ALI 2000


8.30-9.00 Registration and welcome

David Blair, Macquarie University

Labelling for subject areas
What do dictionaries typically mean when they put a label (like U.S., Colloq., Biochem., Obsolete) before a definition?

Lexicographers generally regard labels as restrictive: they tell readers that they are not totally free to use that sense in every context. For instance, a sense labelled U.S. is one that belongs to American English, and you would not expect to hear it from a speaker of another dialect. A word labelled Colloq. is one you would expect to hear in informal language, especially speech; and you would be expected to use it similarly, if the dictionary is right in its prediction.

So dictionary theory says, in effect, that labels are usage labels. They indicate restrictions on the ways in which words and their senses are used, but they do not impinge on the senses themselves. They are not actually part of the definitions: they precede the definitions. They do not give semantic information: they give user/usage information.

To what extent, though, is this true when the label indicates a subject area? Dictionaries appear to have a problem in applying the principle consistently. This paper briefly discusses why this might be so, indicates some of the implications for readers of this inconsistency, and reports on the likelihood (or otherwise) of editors being able to solve the problem.

9.30-10.00 Andrew Pawley, Australian National University On ‘fish’ and ‘insteps’: evidence of the sins of lexicographers
Over 100 native speakers of English were asked questions about the English generic term 'fish': Name some typical fish. Which of the following do you consider to be fish/not fish -- eels, sharks, rays, whales and dolphins, seahorses, octopus and squid, jellyfish, crayfish, crabs? What are your reasons for considering them to be fish/not fish? A different sample of native speakers was asked to identify the body-part known as the 'instep'.

The results indicate that most English speakers have understandings of 'fish' and 'instep' that differ sharply from those typically given in English dictionaries. The implications of this discrepancy will be explored.

10.00-10.30 Jenny Green & Myfany Turpin, Institute for Aboriginal Development Making sense: comparative Arandic lexicography
This paper examines the numerous advantages of eliciting language data using a comparative lexicographic methodology in the context of group fieldwork. A ‘megafile’, which utilises analyses of phonological correspondences between Arandic languages to combine previous Arandic data, is used as an elicitation tool. Currently work is underway on two dictionaries of Arandic languages, Anmatyerr and Kaytetye, and in some communities research on both dictionaries occurs simultaneously.

Cross-linguistic data resulting from this fieldwork methodology provides comparative evidence for attested sense relations, such as distinguishing between polysemy and homophony. We discuss the implications of this methodology for definitional practice in Aboriginal language dictionaries.

10.30-11.15 Morning tea
Including a presentation of June Factor’s Kidspeak: a dictionary of Australian children’s words, expressions and games, published today by Melbourne University Press.
11.15-11.45 Noor Ida Ramli, Mara Institute of Technology, Malaysia
Does an production/active dictionary really help students write in English?
Students' performance in English for Academic Purposes has always been a focus in Malaysian higher education institutions since it is associated with the language of global usage and in recognition of its commercial value as well as being part of the institutional requirements in conferring diplomas and degrees. To date, much has been done to ensure that students acquire certain acceptable standards if not the highest skill of EAP. However, after 11-13 years of learning English in primary and secondary schools, there are still students who need more attention and guidance. How much time can we allocate to these problem cases? Could we suggest self-access learning by promoting the use of dictionaries claimed on the blurbs and jackets to be ‘the most authoritative and up-to-date dictionary for intermediate learners of English ... Fun to use ... as well as informative, the Longman Active Study has many exciting features that actively encourage the student to speak, read and write better English ... The world's first Production Dictionary ... The Activator will help you choose the right word or phrases to express your idea’?
This paper reports on the findings of participant observation on dictionary reference skills for students to translate articles into English. A number of reports and term papers from a group of intermediate level students were analysed for corrections using the chosen dictionaries (the Longman series). It is hoped that the findings will facilitate the students’ self -access learning by maximizing the use of a production/active dictionary in preparing their reports and term papers as well as suggesting ways and means to overcome the difficulty of reference routes of this relatively new kind of dictionary amongst students.
11.45-12.45 David Blair, Terry Crowley, Jane Simpson, and others Makers and users: making dictionaries usable (panel discussion)
How do users cope with explicit and implicit structures, macro- and micro-? How can dictionary makers help? How much do difficulties have to do with makers’ theorising of the lexicon(s) involved, how much with their presentation of it? What are the prerequisite skills for making the intended uses of a given dictionary? What else may users try to do with it, and what may result?)
12.45-1.00+ Biennial General Meeting
Including election of officers. Vice-President David Blair is expected to succeed Jane Simpson as President for the period 2000-2002. Nominations for the positions of Vice-President/President Elect, Secretary, Treasurer, and Committee Members at large will be accepted in advance or at the meeting. Nominations submitted in advance should include an indication of the willingness of the nominee to stand.
Registration includes morning tea.

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Modified 18 May 2000