Tradition and Innovation in Modern English Dictionaries

There has been an extraordinary increase in the production of monolingual dictionaries of English in the last three decades. Despite some interesting recent developments in dictionary design and layout, in many fundamental respects the dictionaries of today are very similar to those produced several centuries ago. Dr. Bejoint argues that this conservatism reflects the importance of the dictionary as culturally-constructed artefact. Dictionaries have remained the same because their traditional form exerts a powerful influence on popular ideas of what they should be. Contemporary research and theory will only filter though into dictionary-making when popular ideas about language and dictionaries change. This must be a slow process because the dictionaries are themselves such a powerful influence in the shaping of these ideas.

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