How to use dictionary


Dictionaries are tools, and they are much more complicated, and capable of many more uses then we suspect. All of us know students need encouragement and guidance in the use of dictionaries. Some students are able to use their dictionaries with anything like efficiency. Certainly there must be very few of those who come up through the grades these days who are not familiar with the details of looking up words in dictionaries, but it is one thing to find a word in a dictionary and quite another to understand fully information there given about it.Linguists and lexicographers have a matter with dictionaries. Every linguist with an interest in the quantitative properties of language will on some occasion be faced with some form of the ultimate question in the word numbers game: ”How many words did Shakespeare use?”, “How many words are there in the English language?” “How many words should a dictionary have?” The first question, at least, has a definite although not simple answer: Shakespeare’s complete works consist of a total of 884647 words of text containing a grand total of 29066 different words including proper names.But on the question ”How many words should a dictionary have” it is very difficult to answer. Every dictionary has a different number of words. On the contrary lexicographers have a task to record the meanings of words, the task of arranging these meanings in the orderthey think will be of most help to those who use their work. Different editors solve this problem of arrangement in different ways. In the prefatory part of any dictionary you will find some indication of the plan that has been followed in arranging the meanings.

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