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Portals to Knowledge: CD-ROM Encyclopaedias, with Specific Reference to Microsoft Encarta 99 Encyclopedia

Phillip Adriaan Louw


The close interaction between linguistics and lexicography over the last few decades has had many good effects, not least of which has been the development of a theoretical framework or meta lexicography. However, this close link has had an unfortunate result: the marginalisation in the theoretical debate of nonlinguistic dictionaries and especially of the encyclopaedia. In this article, semantic, lexicographical and pragmatic motivations will be given for a renewed interest in encyclopaedias. The revolution caused by CD-ROM encyclopaedias and the benefits they hold for a large spectrum of users, will be the most important pragmatic motivations addressed. Microsoft Encarta 99 Encyclopedia will act as a guide for the exploration of the impact this revolution has had on the ideas of user-friendliness and dictionary accessibility. Finally, a future is envisioned in which the Internet will be the logical culmination of the ultimate potential of computers as accessible, user-friendly reference tools.

Keywords:  access structure, active cross-references, cd-rom encyclopaedia, dictionary accessibility, encyclopaedia, guide slructures, inner access slructure, inner search pa1h, internet, linguistic dictionary, medioslructure, multimedia, non linguistic dictionary, outer access slructure, outer search path, passive cross-referencing, user-friendliness

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