Improving the functionality of dictionary definitions for lexical sets: the role of definitional templates, definitional consistency, definitional coherence and the incorporation of lexical conceptual models.

  • P Swanepoel


This article focuses on some of the problems raised by Atkins and Rundell's (2008) approach to the design of lexicographic definitions for members of lexical sets. The questions raised are how to define and identify lexical sets, how lexical conceptual models (LCMs) can support definitional consistency and coherence in defining members of lexical sets, and what the ideal content and structure of LCMs could be. Although similarity of meaning is proposed as the defining feature of lexical sets, similarity of meaning is only one dimension of the broader concept of lexical coherence. The argument is presented that numerous conceptual lexical models (e.g. taxonomies, folk models, frames, etc.) in fact indicate, justify or explain how lexical items cohere (and thus form sets). In support of Fillmore's (2003) suggestion that definitions of the lexical items of cohering sets should be linked to such explanatory models, additional functionally-orientated arguments are presented for the incorporation of conceptual lexical models in electronic monolingual learners' dictionaries. Numerous resources exist to support the design of LCMs which can improve the functionality of definitions of members of lexical sets. A few examples are discussed of how such resources can be used to design functionally justified LCMs. Keywords: Definitional Templates, Definitional Consistency, Definitional Coherence, Lexical Conceptual Models

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2224-0039
print ISSN: 1684-4904