Pedagogical specialised lexicography

Pedagogical specialised lexicography: The representation of meaning in English and Spanish business dictionaries. By Pedro A. Fuertes-Olivera and Ascensión Arribas-Baño. (Terminology and lexicography research and practice 11.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2008. Pp. ix, 165. ISBN 9789027223357. $135 (Hb).

Reviewed by Louisa Buckingham, Sabanci University

This monograph investigates how selected language for specific purposes (LSP) dictionaries of English and Spanish treat the representation of meaning. Taking the monolingual learner’s English dictionary as the forefront of lexicographical practice, the authors explore the possibilities of similar practices for LSP monolingual and bilingual dictionaries of business English or Spanish. Additional research questions that the work addresses are the lexicographical treatment of key aspects of meaning (macrostructure, mediostructure, access structure, and microstructure), and the suitability to reception, production, and translation of the different models employed for students of English/Spanish. The dictionaries selected for analysis are English and Spanish monolingual dictionaries for native speakers, English monolingual pedagogical dictionaries, and English/Spanish bilingual dictionaries that are described as very popular on the Spanish market. Due to the prevalence of nouns in LSP, the authors centre their analysis on noun entries for the letter P.

Comprising six chapters, the book commences with a theoretical introduction and an outline of methods used. Ch. 2 examines how business dictionaries approach homonymy and polysemy in the context of the representation of meaning. Ch. 3 discusses the formulation of definitions. The authors challenge commonly held beliefs regarding terminological, encyclopedic, and semantic definitions and conclude with recommendations for the formulation of definitions that meet the needs of second language learners. In Ch. 4, the notion of equivalence is considered, first from the perspective of the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis and then from the perspective of a conceptual framework: the authors note that there are no accepted conceptual taxonomies in business and economics. Ch. 5 examines the use of examples in business dictionaries, which the authors consider to limited and unsystematic. In light of the importance of dictionary examples in second language study, the authors offer a series of concrete recommendations, from example types and typography to the lexicographical functions examples serve. The final chapter, beyond providing the study’s principal conclusion, gives recommendations with respect to improving how LSP dictionaries can assist learning, the representation of meaning, and general points regarding layout and typography. The section ends with a model lexicographic entry for a bilingual dictionary.

The strengths of the book lie in its clarity of organization and layout and its breadth of discussion. It incorporates illuminative excerpts from all dictionaries studied, complemented by a comparative analysis of the approaches of these dictionaries to the points under discussion. Finally, the authors clearly identify specific methods by which LSP dictionaries can better respond to the pedagogical requirements of second language learners. The study will doubtlessly be well received by students and teachers of lexicography and translation.