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Typological Classification of Bilingual Dictionaries

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Language
Wordcount: 3293 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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In our life we often meet situations when people use idioms and collocations. We can hear when somebody says: “something is dead sure” or

“I have to keep a tight rein on Tom”. Young people often think “what does it mean?” or “How can we translate it?”. People have huge problems in the translation of phraseology. Grammar problem is common, because there are several constructions of grammar poorly understood. Very often it is not clear how they should be represented, or what rules should be used to describe them.

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I would like to mention that in English one linguistic form can be used to encode of meaning while in Polish form and meaning usually are conditioned by each other. English speakers usually choose lexemes very broad in meaning to encode a message. Idioms, collocations and phraseology very often are used in business language, for example: to launch a campaign.

We should know basic collocations, phraseology and idioms if we want to understand foreign languages. It can really help. On the other hand it is very important to study the relation between English and Polish phraseology and their culture.

In the first part, I will present typological classification of bilingual dictionaries, theory of bilingual lexicography, function of bilingual dictionaries, target group or users, translation problems between Polish and English language, phraseology, expression, vallency collocation, loose collocation- basic terms, types of collocations.

The second part contains a precise description of the dictionary included in my work.

The third part has the character of dictionary and consists of a systemized extract of collocations with their English equivalents.

Typological classification of bilingual dictionaries

A bilingual dictionary or translation dictionary is a specialized dictionary used to translate words or phrases from one language to another. Bilingual dictionaries can be unidirectional, meaning that they list the meanings of words of one language in another, or can be bidirectional, allowing translation to and from both languages.(Al-Kasimi 1983: 10) Bidirectional bilingual dictionaries usually consist of two sections, each listing words and phrases of one language alphabetically along with their translation. In addition to the translation, a bilingual dictionary usually indicates the part of speech, gender, verb type, declension model and other grammatical clues to help a non-native speaker use the word. ( Hartman 1998: 25)

Dictionaries can be classified into various types of the basic of different criteria. To begin with we have to differentiate between dictionary proper and dictionary like works. Zgusta (1971) calls these linguistic and non-linguistic dictionaries respectively. The linguistic dictionaries are concerned with the words or lexical units of languages and they are called word books. The non-linguistic dictionaries are not concerned with words but with realia or denotata (thing)) they are called encyclopedias, or thing books. They are similar to dictionaries only in their alphabetical arrangement of words denoting the realia. Anyhow the aspects of the realia which are called encyclopaedic features such as description, photos, diagrams etc., are given in certain types of dictionaries to add to the utility of the dictionary.

Classification of linguistic dictionaries has been attempted by a number of scholars such as Shcherba (1940), Sebok (1962), Malkiel (1959); Cornym (1967), Zgusta (1971), Svensen (1993). (Devapala 2004 : 2)

Bilingual dictionaries have become a necessary part of our daily economic, intellectual, and cultural activities. A new system of classifying bilingual dictionaries, help language teachers to select the most appropriate dictionaries for their students. In 1934 Mansion noted that “bilingual dictionaries are not scientific in their treatment of words, and have not kept pace with progress in philology”.(Al-Kasimi 1983 : 85)

There are many kinds of dictionaries such as glossary, concordance, vocabulary, word book, index, linguistic atlas, encyclopaedic dictionary.

The classification of bilingual dictionaries: (Al-Kasimi 1983:12-13)

Dictionaries for the speakers of the source language vs. dictionaries for the speakers of the target language;

Dictionaries for production vs. dictionaries for comprehension;

Dictionaries of the literary language vs. dictionaries of the spoken language;

Dictionaries for the human user vs. dictionaries for machine translation;

Historical dictionaries vv. Descriptive dictionaries;

Lexical dictionaries vs. encyclopaedic dictionaries;

Genaral dictionaries vs. special dictionaries

The classification of bilingual dictionaries that are combined with machine translators on the Language Grid. The dictionaries on the Language Grid can be classified into the following three types: (Wawrzyńczyk 1996: 8)

Global Dictionaries: This type of dictionary is a Web service that provides the standard interface of a bilingual dictionary. Further, such types of dictionaries are registered on the Language Grid. In addition, Global dictionaries are large-sized bilingual dictionaries either specialized for certain domain or general purpose and are shared between the Language Grid Users (e.g., Online Dictionary of Academic Terms);

Local Dictionaries: These are also Web services with a standard interface; however they are not registered on the Language Grid. These are large-sized dictionaries specialized for a certain user and are not open to the other Language Grid users. (e.g A Dictionary for NPO Pangaca)

Temporal Dictionaries: These dictionaries unlike the other two types, are not Web services and are only accessiblefrom a user’s application system. These are typically small-sized dictionaries specialized for a certain user and are not open to the other Language Grid users (e.g. Users’ Dictionary for Language Grid Playground) (Al-Kasimi 1983: 28). A bilingual dictionary can combine a number of the defining features of these contrasts in accordance with the purpose it is intended to serve.

1.2 Theory of bilingual lexicography

This part is concerned with selected problems in bilingual lexicography.

Lexicography is divided into two related disciplines:

Practical lexicography is the art or craft of compiling, writing and editing dictionaries. (Fontenelle 2008: 45)

Theoretical lexicography is the scholarly discipline of analyzing and describing the semantic, syntagmatic and paradigmatic relationships within the lexicon (vocabulary) of a language, developing theories of dictionary components and structures linking the data in dictionaries, the needs for information by users in specific types of situation, and how users may best access the data incorporated in printed and electronic dictionaries. (WawrzyÅ„czyk 1996 : 36) This is sometimes referred to as ‘metalexicography’. General lexicography focuses on the design, compilation, use and evaluation of general dictionaries, i.e. dictionaries that provide a description of the language in general use. Such a dictionary is usually called a general dictionary or LGP dictionary.(Hill 2002: 9) Bilingual lexicography is occasionally given an important place in lexicography. Most lexicographical literature is focused on monolingual dictionaries, and most often monolingual lexicography is considered to be the proper one. (WawrzyÅ„czyk 1996: 42)

Practical lexicographic work involves several activities, and the compilation of really crafted dictionaries require careful consideration of all or some of the following aspects:

Profiling the intended users (i.e. linguistic and non-linguistic competences) and identifying their needs,

Defining the communicative and cognitive functions of the dictionary,

Selecting and organizing the components of the dictionary,

Choosing the appropriate structures for presenting the data in the dictionary (i.e. frame structure, distribution structure, macro-structure, micro-structure and cross-reference structure),

Selecting words and affixes for systematization as entries,

Selecting collocations, phrases and examples,

Choosing lemma forms for each word or part of word to be lemmatized,

Defining words,

Organizing definitions,

Specifying pronunciations of words,

Labeling definitions and pronunciations for register and dialect, where appropriate. (Hartman 1998:29)

One important consideration is the status of ‘bilingual lexicography’, or the compilation and use of the bilingual dictionary in all its aspects. In spite of a relatively long history of this dictionary type, it is often said to be less developed in a number of respects than its monolingual counterpart, especially in cases where one of the languages involved is not a major language.(WawrzyÅ„czyk 1996: 45) Not all genres of reference works are available in interlingual versions, e.g. LSP, learners’ and encyclopedic types, although sometimes these challenges produce new subtypes, e.g. ‘semi-bilingual’ or ‘bilingualised’ dictionaries like Hornby’s (Oxford) Advanced Learner’s Dictionary English-Chinese, which have been developed by translating existing monolingual dictionaries.

1.3 Functions of bilingual dictionaries

Bilingual dictionaries have many functions. They are used for many tasks and by different groups of users: learners, translators, scholars. Bilingual dictionaries are used in order to aquire some knowledge about one or both of the languages, knowledge which is necessary above all for communication.

Students need a good bilingual dictionary to help in their reading of simplified materials in the foreign language. A good bilingual dictionary is an indispensable tool for the student in the intermediate stage of foreign language learning.

Some scholars argue that bilingual dictionaries are very inadequate and unnatural because they present words out of their natural elements-context, they put together items which hardly ever occur in the same communicative situation.

According to A. Hill (2006) the ideal dictionaries are still and will always be, essential not only in a dictionary prepared for pedagogical purposes, but in only other dictionary as well. These five types of information are: “the phonemic structure of word, in morphemic structure; the grammatical modification is undergoes, its syntactic habits, and its meanings”. (Hill 2006: 20) A good dictionary should be different for foreigner students of the language and for the native speakers. (Al-Kasimi 1983: 55)

1.4 Target groups or users

Users belong to different groups such as children, students, teachers, scientists, trainees, technicians etc.

Hartman (1195) classifies the needs of the users into two types (Hill 2006:56):

Information: It is one of the factors for the users seek to help of a dictionary to check spellings, meaning, synonyms, pronunciation, etymology.

Operations: That is, when the user performs tasks as reading, writing and translating.He refers to the dictionary to find words and meanings. From the point of view of types of users and their two types of needs, dictionaries fall into different categories such as dictionaries for children, students, translators, learners, scholars, creatives writes.

Categorisation of the dictionaries from the point of view of user, influences the articulation of the work in the collection of material, selection of entries, choice of defining words while constructing the entries etc.

Therefore, this is an important factor in dictionary making and the compiler has to clearly decide on the type of the users and their needs.

1.5 Translation problems

There are some particular problems in the translation process: problems of ambiguity, problems that originate from structural and lexical differences between languages and multiword units like idioms and collocations. Another problem would be the grammar because there are several constructions of grammar poorly understood, in the sense that it isn’t clear how they should be represented, or what rules should be used to describe them. (Schmalstieg 1969: 20) The words that are really hard to translate are frequently the small common words, whose precise meaning depends heavily on context. Besides, some words are untranslatable when one wishes to remain in the same grammatical category.

Language problems: (Schmalstieg 1969:45)

Idioms terms and neologism,

Unsolved acronyms and abbreviations,

Proper names of people, organizations, and places,

Slang difficult to understand,

Respect to punctuation conventions.

English speakers usually choose lexemes very broad in meaning to encode a message. In contrast, very broad lexemes do not occur in Polish frequently, i.e.

Polish: English:

Szyć sukienkę make (sew) a dress

1.6 Phraseology and collocations-basic terms

Phraseology appeared in the domain of lexicology and undergoes the process of segregating as a separate branch of linguistics. The reason is clear – lexicology deals with words and their meanings, whereas phraseology studies such collocations of words (phraseologisms, phraseological units, idioms), where the meaning of the whole collocation is different from the simple sum of literal meanings of the words, comprising a phraseological unit. (Altenberg 1998:17) Phraseological units are (according to Prof. Kunin A.V. 1970) stable word-groups with partially or fully transferred meanings (“to kick the bucket”, “Greek gift”, “drink till all’s blue”, “drunk as a fiddler (drunk as a lord, as a boiled owl)”, “as mad as a hatter (as a march hare)”). (Altenberg 1998: 25) A phraseological unit is a lexicalized, reproducible bilexemic or polylexemic word group in common use, which has relative syntactic and semantic stability, may be idiomatized, may carry connotations, and may have an emphatic or intensifying function in a text. (Cowie 2001: 10)

A collocation is two or more words that often go together. These combinations just sound “right” to native English speakers, who use them all the time. On the other hand, other combinations may be unnatural and just sound “wrong”. Look at these examples:

Natural English… Unnatural English…

a quick shower a fast shower

1.7 Types of Collocation

There are several different types of collocation made from combinations of verb, noun, adjective etc.

We can distinguish: petrified collocations, vallency collocations and loose collocations.

Petrified collocations function in the utterance as single words. They might be replaced by a single – word equivalent or by equivalent collocation to fulfil a semantic function. (M.K 2008, 9)

Valency collocatons have a considerable degree of cohesion but their components did not submit to lexicalization.

Valency characteristic are for example:

Polish English

Wysunąć żądanie put forward a claim

(żądać) (claim)

Loose collocations are formulated only by the concrete necessity of what the speaker intends to say. There are various possibilities for combinating single words to create a loose collocation.(J.B 1993, 19)

A phrase in grammar, a phrase is a group of words functioning as a single unit in the syntax of a sentence.

For example, the house at the end of the street is a phrase. It acts like a noun. It can further be broken down into two shorter phrases functioning as adjectives: at the end and of the street, a shorter prepositional phrase within the longer prepositional phrase. At the end of the street could be replaced by an adjective such as nearby: the nearby house or even the house nearby. The end of the street could also be replaced by another noun, such as the crossroads to produce the house at the crossroads.

Most phrases have a central word defining the type of phrase. This word is called the head of the phrase. Some phrases, however, can be headless. For example, the rich is a noun phrase composed of a determiner and an adjective without a noun.

1.8 Types of phrases

Phrases may be classified by the type of head taken by them:

Prepositional phrase (PP) with a preposition as head (e.g. in love, over the rainbow). Languages using postpositions instead have postpositional phrases. The two types are sometimes commonly referred to as adpositional phrases(J.B 1993; 14).

Noun phrase (NP) with a noun as head (e.g. the black cat, a cat on the mat)

Verb phrase (VP) with a verb as head (e.g. eat cheese, jump up and down)

Adjectival phrase (AP) with an adjective as head (e.g. full of toys, fraught with guilt)

Adverbial phrase (AdvP) with an adverb as head (e.g. very carefully)



A phraseological dictionary is a special type of dictionary in which all entries function as collocation. Collocation is the way in which some words are often used together or a particular combination of words used in this way.(M.K, 2008, 5)

The aim of Polish-English Phraseological Dictionary is to provide a broad range of phraseological vocabulary and give guidance on words which can be used with a headword. The source of Polish collocations is primarily Phraseological Dictionary of Polish Language by Skorupka ( S.S 1985;) and Phraseological Dictionary of Polish Language by Anna Ciesielska, Katarzyna Mosiołek-Kłosińska.(A.C 1990)

In Polish phraseology there is a variety of expressions typical only of the Polish language. It is necessary to mention that not all English collocation given in my work reflect the exact meaning of the Polish ones.


przen. – przenoÅ›nie – figuratively

przest. – przestarzaÅ‚y – old-fashioned

pot. – potoczny – colloquial

książk. – książkowy – book

med. – medycyna – medicine

iron. – ironiczny – irone

przekl. – przekleÅ„stwo – curse

wojsk. – wojskowy – military

posp. – pospolicie – commonly

zdr. – zdrobniaÅ‚y – diminutive

gw. srod. – gwara Å›rodowiskowa – environmental dialect

uczn. – uczniowski – school

górn. – górnictwo – mining

jÄ™z. – jÄ™zykoznawstwo – linguistics

euf – euforycznie – euphoric

chem. – chemia – euphoric

pog. – pogardliwy – contempuous

daw. – dawny – old use

gw. – gwarowy – dialectal

rub. – rubaszny – coarse

anat. – anatomia – anatomy

poet. – poetyczny- poetic

gw. wojsk – gwara wojskowa – military dialect

techn. – techniczny- technical

lit. – liturgia –

Å‚ow. – Å‚owiectwo- hunting

żart. – żartobliwy – jocular


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