Specialised lexicography: 20 years in slow motion

Steven Tarp

Comment the following quotation by Steven Tarp   in the following article:

… it should initially be stated that the theoretical and practical achievements of specialised lexicography during the past two decades are rather disappointing, especially when it is recalled that several scholars expected the 1990s to be the golden decade of specialised lexicography after the noteworthy upsurge in general lexicographical discussion and theorymaking during the previous decade or two.

Answer to the following questions as well:

What kind of specialized dictionaries could you find in the last two decades?

Which are the main challenges found in the production specialized dictionaries nowadays?

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2 thoughts on “Specialised lexicography: 20 years in slow motion

  1. Throughout the paper, Tarp is quite critical of the establishment and of lexicographers who have received what he sees as generous research grants and achieved very little or nothing of real scientific value. Although he acknowledges the -predominantly individual- effort of some scholars, he claims that: ‘[…] it is no exaggeration to say that a comprehensive up-to-date theory of this branch of lexicography [specialized lexicography] is still missing’ (p. 124).
    The challenges lexicographers face at present are, in Tarp’s view, the notorious lack of a explanatory theory of lexicography which may serve as a common framework for specialized researchers, and the declining quality of this lexicographical work by publishing houses, who are more concerned with profit than accuracy.

  2. Tarp is quite harsh in his assessment of the development of lexicography over the past 20 years. In his paper, he argues that although there has been an increase in the number of lexicographical works, encyclopaedias and specialised dictionaries, there has been little change in terms of quality.
    Tarp backs up this critique with several examples, such as how bilingual or plurilingual dictionaries are printed “without definitions and the grammatical – especially syntactic – data needed to provide qualified assistance to translation as well as foreign-language text production and reception.” The problem is that publishing houses fail to consider the needs of the users.
    Answer the following questions as well:
    1. What kind of specialized dictionaries could you find in the last two decades?
    According to Tarp, specialized dictionaries cane be divided into three groups: 1) traditional printed dictionaries; 2) electronic dictionaries published by publishing houses and academic or public institutions; and 3) other online dictionaries.
    2. Which are the main challenges found in the production of specialized dictionaries nowadays?
    Nowadays, the challenge is to increase the quality of specialized dictionaries, by providing them with a sound theoretical framework. However, this improvement is hindered by the “lack of theoretical motivation” and the fact that publishing houses can make money with the products they now sell, without having to invest in renewing their contents and structure.

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