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Каталог статей из сборников научных конференций и научных журналов- Lexicography and terminography in specific scientific discourse

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Filologické vědomosti. - 2020. - № 1

Lexicography and terminography in specific scientific discourse

D. V. Dziatko, Candidate of Philological Sciences,

Head of the Department of Linguistics and Linguodidactics,

ORCID: 0000-0002-9544-3423, e-mail: lingby@gmail.com,

Belarusian State Pedagogical University named after Maxim Tank,

Minsk, Belarus


In the XXI century, mankind has come to understanding information as one of the key resources and factors of development of modern society. In this process, the dictionary has a special role of being a source and a reference point in a sea of information [4, p. 7], as the “dictionary is a collection of units of a natural or artificial language, usually provided with a particular semantic information and arranged in a certain order (most often alphabetic or ideographic)” [3, p. 202].

It is no coincidence that dictionary form and lexicographical issues are in demand in scientific literature. (See, for example, “О dicionário” by Machado de Assis (1899), “Hazarski rečnik” by Milorad Pavic (1984), “The Scythian Dictionary” by George Hazagerov (1999), “Notes and extracts” by Michael Gasparov (2000), “Dogs of Europe” by Algerd Baharevich (2017), etc.). As the Paducheva claims, it seems that the increase of entropy in the era of the alphabet is the only guarantor of order [6, p. 18]. In other words, lexicography serves the interests of a particular society solving cognitive, accumulative, educational, scientific, and cultural problems, and lexicographical guidelines of scientific discourse make an important feature of the scientific paradigm of the modern society.

In recent decades, there is a general diversification of expertise and intensive data growth. This process does not occur only within certain linguistic and national boundaries, but also in the context of internationalization and globalization of life in general. No science can develop and evolve without creating a coherent system of methods, techniques and principles of interpreting fragments of reality. The optimum method is to work out a systematization metatheory based on sorting out key scientific terms and the relationship between them. It is the state of terminology is one of the most reliable criteria for the verification of the state of scientific disciplines: advanced sciences possess a well-developed terminology system. Therefore, one of the tasks of researchers is the development, preservation and proper use of the system of terms of their scientific field.

Terminology literature includes numerous dictionaries, reference books, terms registers, theoretical, academic and popular sources. Efforts to unite under one scientific paradigm all achievements of theoretical terminology have been made repeatedly. A significant contribution to the world study of terminology was made by H. Bergenholtz, I. Burkhanov, H. Felber i G. Budin, Ch. Laurén i J. Myking, G. Roudeau, J.C. Sager, as well as the Belarusian, Russian and Ukrainian scientists: K. E. Averbukh, L. Antaniuk, G. A. Borhvald, A. Gerd, S. V. Grinyov-Grinevich, V. V. Dubichinskiy, V. M. Leychik, D. S. Lotte, J. N. Marchuk, V. D. Tabanakova, V. A. Tatarinov, V. K. Shcherbin and others. However, the large number and multidimensionality of the object of study (field term systems) significantly complicates the creation of a universal supranational terminology theory.

Recently, there has been some linguistic expansionism of linguistic ideas into psychology and philosophy, logic and the theory of knowledge, cognitive science and others. Broadening the range of issues in the science of language, active interaction of linguistics with psychology, anthropology and cognitive studies identifies new approaches to the definition of terms in dictionaries. The issue of replenishment of dictionaries with linguistic and extra-linguistic (encyclopaedic and cultural) information is becoming critical [4, p. 9]. Information about the language received outside linguistics, affects the linguistic analysis. Active differential-integrative processes in linguistics and culture are becoming more visible, for example the construction, design and deployment of new disciplines and directions such as sociolinguistics, ethnolinguistics, psycholinguistic, linguagnoseology, linguacognitology, linguaculturology, etc. Contacts of linguistics with other spheres of knowledge and human spiritual activity are becoming more intense [2, p. 13].

These processes are accompanied by developing new and upgrading of traditional field terminological systems. It reinforces the role of reflection within the science of language and promotes the rapid development of linguistic terminography.

Thus, the development of scientific paradigms in the XX−XXI in linguistics and the increasing number of scientific schools caused the rapid growth of linguistic terminology. As a result, a huge number of terms began to burden the communication between linguists of not only different generations, but also scientists from different fields of study.

The best way to understand and classify tens of thousands of linguistic terms (i.e. an important means of a sub-language modeling) are cataloging and codification. A relevant example of this is Yury Apresyan’s preface to the “New explanatory dictionary of Russian synonyms” in which the linguistic concept of the edition and lexicographical principles are set out in the form of a terminological dictionary [1, p. XXII−LII].

Today, new types of dictionaries emerge, scientists reissue existing lexicographical works and provide their inventory in the context of the current linguistic theories. Thus, issues in the history of lexicography theory as well as the interpretation of cultural and heuristic value of dictionaries are becoming current [4, p. 8].

Terminology dictionaries are of particular importance in the society due to certain factors: a) they facilitate introduction and expansion of standardized terminology; b) they prevent experts from using incorrect terms which might distort the sense and impede the study of a subject; c) they develop practitioners’ competencies; d) they facilitate the implementation of standardized terminology into the training process; d) they are used by translators; e) they rationalize office and business correspondence; g) provide the material for the study of history of science and technology; c) make it possible to create similar term systems in other languages [7, p. 176].

Enhancing the role of terminological dictionaries is determined by the place it occupies in the terminological lexicon of the modern knowledge, because “those who refuse targeted development of a national terminology refuse thereby to participate actively in the development of their field of knowledge” [5, p. 4]. Quantitative and qualitative changes in existing terminology systems, the rapid creation of new sub-languages in science and technology raises a number of problems, solutions for which are of great practical importance. We mean ordering, systematization and standardization of terminology, optimizing the process of teaching special translation, the creation of terminological banks and others [5, p. 4].

If we agree with the thesis that lexicography in a sense is a universal methodological science, the development of the terminology theory seems an effective way to systematize the terminology and terminology study issues.

In 1983, A. J. Shaikevich stressed that “works specifically devoted to terminological lexicography are very scarce” [8, p. 1]. Over the past 35 years the situation has not changed, though, as aptly noted by the scientist, there are “some signs of a storm arising in this apparently tranquil region” as “practical lexicography (and especially terminological lexicography) is on the verge of radical change, and lexicographers today must arm theoretically not to be taken by surprise with these changes” [8, p. 2]. However, until now there is neither comprehensive and generally accepted concept of lexicographical description of special vocabulary nor of that of the specific linguistic terminology.

Terminology is the object of lexicographic description (in general dictionaries) and terminography (in special dictionaries). This requires clarification of the role and place of lexicography, including metalexicography and terminography in modern science, refinement of relationships between lexicography, terminology, terminology study, terminography and determination the most important parameters of these fields of study.

Back in the late twentieth century, some researchers drawn attention to the formation of the discipline that deals with the theoretical aspects of lexicographical description – metalexicography, “lexicography which interacts with the lexicography” [10, p. 1−2]. In recent decades, there is a trend towards autonomisation of this and some other sections of lexicography. For example M. Bańko claims metalexicography is not a branch of linguistics, although these areas have much in common [9, p. 11]. According to P. Żmigrodzki, lexicography combines engineering and theoretical aspects and is based on data from different linguistic disciplines (lexical semantics, lexical statistics, spelling, grammar, etc.) [11, pp. 14−16]. In its turn, metalexicography is connected with the theory and methodology of lexicographical description, classification of dictionaries of various types and their characteristics as well as the study of lexicography structure itself. However, the internal structure of this science is still being disputed over by scientists.

Thus, metalexicography is a branch of lexicography comprising the theoretical study of lexicography as the lexicographical activity. Its areas of interest include: a) understanding of the essence, contents, tasks, structure, subject and object of lexicography; b) manifesting principles, methodologies and methods of lexicographical description of a language system; c) manifesting ways of lexicography fixation of the language material (creating programmes, guidelines, manuals, etc.); g) determination of the system and structure of the dictionary depending on its purpose, type and genre; e) study of the functions of the dictionary; e) study of the history of lexicography.

This discipline may comprise three main subsections:

a) Study of the functional characteristics (“user research”) – the theory of dictionaries creation, development of methods for dictionaries evaluation and increasing  lexicographical products efficiency (e.g., due to user manuals).

b) dictionary criticism – the creation of reviews of the dictionaries to develop common principles for the evaluation of existing dictionaries (in this section we study only those lexicographical products that have already been created).

c) so called “systematic dictionary studies” – the formulation of new or improving existing theories for the purpose of their use in the development of new lexicographical projects. The last section also includes historiographical studies of dictionaries for inventory of earlier lexicographical theories and their adaptation to the new conditions.

Monolingual and bilingual metalexicography includes five main areas of interest: a) lexicographical theory; b) dictionary criticism; c) study of the use of the dictionary; g) study of the dictionary status and marketing; d) history of lexicography.

Theory of lexicography, in its turn, is divided into: a) text theory of the lexicographical texts; b) dictionary typology; c) data collection and processing, including the use of computer resources; g) the theory dictionary work organization; e) the theory of the dictionary goals.

Based on the above, it would be logical to assume that the development of modern metalexicography occurs in six main areas: a) study of lexicographical tradition (history of the dictionaries); b) genres lexicographical classification (dictionary typology); c) the study of dictionaries components (dictionary structure); d) dictionaries quality evaluation (dictionary critics); e) analysis of the use of the dictionary; f) research of computer support opportunities (information technologies in lexicography).

Thus, in spite of some essential and functional similarity between the concepts of lexicography and metalexicography their linguistic parameterization reveals the difference in basic procedural, contextual, hierarchical and object characteristics.

Paradoxically, unlike lexicography which replenishment sources and place in the linguistics is not uniquely determined, metalexicography as a scientific branch has generally formed its structure. Its most important components are the theory and history of lexicography, dictionaries typology, development of optimal dictionary structure, etc. Another fact testifying to the formation of metalexicography is its ability to further develop such subsections  as metatermonography, metaphraseography, metaspelling, etc. One of the essential questions concerning these and other metalexicography branches is what specific dictionaries to include into the area of interest, and which to ignore.

The development of metalexicography is the evidence of lexicography having moved beyond purely utilitarian science as it has begun to set goals of theoretical and methodological nature. On the other hand, metalexicography has inspired the formation of a theoretical perspectiveof other fields of study related typologically to lexicography including those connected with terms systematization and classification.


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2. Бацевич Ф. С. Філософія мови. Історія лінгвофілософських учень. − Київ : Академія, 2011. − 240 с.

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8. Шайкевич А. Я. Проблемы терминологической лексикографии: обзорная информация. – М. : Всесоюзный центр переводов, 1983. – 68 с.

9. Bańko Mirosław. Z pogranicza leksykografii i językoznawstwa : studia o słowniku jednojęzycznym. − Warszawa : Wydział Polonistyki Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego, 2001. − 336 s.

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