How Dictionaries are usedFor definitions ranges across many types of words – simple, archaic, slang, idiomatic, foreign, literary and technical,Etymology and usage of a word,Pronunciation and syllabication of a word,List classes of words,Provides synonym,For visual or illustrated dictionary, provides text as well as geographical representations,For dictionary of regionalism, provides specialized definitions of less universal usage.
Questions answered byDictionariesDefinitionOrthography- study of correct spelling: the study of established correct spelling (Microsoft Encarta)PronunciationEtymologyGrammarSynonymVisualReligionalisms
MAJOR DICTIONARIES USEDIN REFERENCE WORKGeneral DictionariesUnabridged dictionaries depth and breadth of information is the prime directive rather than currency of words.Are the most scholarly and comprehensive of all dictionaries, sometimes consisting of many volumes. They emphasize the history of words and the variety of their uses.
General DictionariesUnabridged dictionariesAre useful when studying a word in depth, reading or writing about the literature of another century, or looking for a quotation containing a particular word.Examples: The Oxford English Dictionary, (20 volumes), The Random House Dictionary of the English Language, Websters Third New International Dictionary of the English Language.
General DictionariesAbridged dictionariesoften called desk dictionaries, list 150,000 to 250,000 words and concentrate largely on fairly common words and meanings. A good desk dictionary will serve most reference needs for writing or reading.Examples: The American Heritage Dictionary, The Random House Websters College Dictionary, Mirriam-Websters Collegiate Dictionary, Concise Oxford English Dictionary.
Specialized Word SourcesLearners dictionaries “less is more” (Dahlin 1999, 33),The prime directives are not comprehensiveness and depth of meaning, but simplicity, ease of use and frequency of words in daily American communication.Examples: Macmillan English Dictionary, NTC’s American English Learner’s Dictionary.
Specialized Word SourcesVisual dictionariesis designed to help you find the right word at a glance, is more than a reliable resource of meticulously labeled images—it innovates by combining dictionary-scale definitions with exceptional illustrations ( http://visual.merriam-webster.com/about-visual_ ).Examples: The Firefly Visual Dictionary (has 35, 000 terms), Ultimate Visual Dictionary, The Firefly Five Language Visual Dictionary (35, 000 words in English, Spanish, French, German and Italian).
Specialized Word Sources“Gated” word dictionariesdictionaries of slang, jargon, argot, regionalisms or idioms.Dictionaries of slang usually collates colloquialisms recurring within a group.Example: the multivolume Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang(has 300, 000 slang words).
Specialized Word SourcesAcronyms and Abbreviations Dictionaries (AAD)Example: Acronyms, Initialisms, and Abbreviations Dictionary (Multivolume, Gale Group).
Specialized Word SourcesRhyming Dictionarieswere created to help poets, song makers, and verse creators.Example: The Oxford Rhyming Dictionary (has 85, 000 words in forty sound group, but uses British pronunciation).
Specialized Word SourcesMetadictionariesonline medium,Examples: www.onelook.com (host to 6, 257, 269 words from 993 dictionaries), www.dictionary.com (free and user- friendly).
Thesaurihelps to find the right word, each word is partnered with strings of synonyms and antonyms.Examples: Roget’s International Thesaurus (6th ed. Has 330, 000 words and phrases), The Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus (2004).
Quotationsoften in dictionaries to establish the usage of the word.Examples: Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations (17th ed., 25, 000 quotations), The Random House Webster’s Quotationary (has 20, 000 quotations arranged by subject)…
Concordancesare an alphabetical enumeration of major words in a book or a collection of books by an author, along with the immediate context of a word, Shakespeare and the Bible.Examples: 9 volume compilation, A Complete and Systematic Concordance to the Works of Shakespeare, or single- volume version The Harvard Concordance to Shakespeare.
Style and Usage of Wordswords can come alive with the right grammar and punctuation.Reference Librarians must be prepared for 2 types of questions in the field:Grammar and punctuation,Style and citation guidance.Examples: Chicago Manual of Style, MLA (Modern Language Association) Handbook for Writers of Research Papers.
Children’s dictionariesreference world of word sources for children focuses on all-purpose dictionaries.Market for children’s dictionaries: school library, the public library and the family library.Examples: A Student’s Dictionary, Macmillan Dictionary for Children.
Bilingual Dictionarieshas variety of unabridged, dual, pocket- sized, and desk dictionaries.Examples: Cassell’s Latin Dictionary, The Oxford Starter series, Albanian- English/English-Albanian Practical Dictionary.
Special Constituencytwo major constituencies for whom authoritative dictionaries are available; the visual and the hearing impaired.Examples: The Oxford Large Print Dictionary, The American Sign Language Dictionary Unabridged (has more than 7, 000 sign entries accompanied with 12, 000 illustration).
Subject dictionariesmedical, legal, business, scientific, technical, computer, mathematical, etc.Examples: Harvard Dictionary of Music, Black’s Law Dictionary, Stedman’s Medical Dictionary.
COLLECTION DEVELOPMENT AND MAINTENANCE Selection and Keeping current Reading professional reviews is the most standard way.es Referring to regularly updated reference works, Refereeing to subject-specific monograph, Subscribing for in-depth look at dictionary sources, Individual dictionary update.
COLLECTION DEVELOPMENT AND MAINTENANCE Evaluating Word Sources Authority and understandability are the prime criteria for evaluating a word source. Other criteria: currency, cost, format, scope, comprehensiveness, and value- added features.
FURTHERCONSIDERATIONSAcquisition of word sourcesNot all book titled “dictionaries” are really dictionaries.They are merely alluding to the alphabetical arrangement of a book. E.g. A New Dictionary of Irish History from 1800’s.Lends little (meaning) of words, (gives) a great deal of history instead.