A Mistake That Taught You an Important Lesson

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Chapter 1: Basic concepts and terms

This chapter answers the following questions: What is a dictionary? What are the different types of dictionaries? How can we describe a dictionary? What are the elements of a dictionary? What are the different kinds of information dictionaries provide? What is a dictionary?

This is the first question one encounters when learning about dictionary skills or reading any book on lexicography (the art of compiling dictionaries). Defining the term "dictionary" is important to distinguish it from other reference books, which may look similar, like encyclopedias. Etymologically, the word "dictionary" comes from the Middle Latin word "dictionarium," which means "collection of words and phrases". This definition relates to the basic function of dictionaries which is listing the words of a language or a particular field of knowledge. This simple fact is the basis of all the definitions proposed for a dictionary. A dictionary is a book used as a reference source which contains lists of words arranged alphabetically or thematically, with explanations of their meanings (semantic information in monolingual dictionaries) or with their equivalents (in bi-, tri-, or multilingual dictionaries). They may also include more information related to orthography (spelling, alternate spellings), morphology (syllabification, word inflections, derivative forms, morphological paradigm), phonology (pronunciation, stress pattern), etymology (word history and origin), syntax (part of speech, verb type, noun type, etc), pragmatics (usage, frequency of use, style, context), and other semantic information (related words such as synonyms, antonyms). A dictionary may variously be referred to as: word book, lexicon, thesaurus, vocabulary, glossary, and concordance. However, each one of these is slightly different in scope. For example, a thesaurus (also from Latin, and which means a treasury or a storehouse) presents synonyms and antonyms; a glossary usually gives a list of terms confined to a particular domain of knowledge with definitions. What distinguishes a dictionary from these different types is that none of them provides all the different kinds of linguistic information a dictionary provides. Use thesaurus in a Sentence

See images of thesaurus
Search thesaurus on the Web
Types of dictionaries:
Dictionaries vary in coverage, size, and scope. They can be classified on the basis of different criteria. Knowing the types of dictionaries available is very important to decide which ones to buy or use. The following criteria are used to classify dictionaries: 1) Number of languages:

Monolingual dictionaries are written in one language only. Each word is followed by its meaning or various meanings and probably other information related to pronunciation, grammar, or word history. Bilingual dictionaries are written in two languages. Each word is followed by its equivalent or possible equivalents in another language. Bilingual dictionaries could be uni- or mono-directional; that is, they go in one direction only, from English to Arabic or vise versa. They could also be bidirectional; that is, the dictionary is divided into two parts; the first part is from Language 1 to Language 2, and the second one is from Language 2 to Language 1. Trilingual dictionaries are written in three languages.

Multilingual language are written in more than two languages. 2) Age of the users:
School dictionaries are intended for school students and they are graded according to children's age: elementary, middle, and high school students. They are simplified versions of adult references. They may also be referred to as "children's dictionaries" if they are intended for very young children. Adult dictionaries, on the other hand, are intended for adults and these are the ones that translators use and they include a variety of dictionary types such as college dictionaries, current language dictionaries, and unabridged dictionaries. 3) Size...
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