Kernerman Dictionary News • Number 14 • July 2005

2es Journées allemandes des dictionnaires

Colloque international de lexicographie à la memoire de Josette Rey-Debove




International symposium of lexicography • in memory of Josette Rey-Debove

Le Dictionnaire maître de langue : lexicographie et didactique

[The Dictionary, Master of Language: Lexicography and Didactics]


6-9 July 2006

Mairhofen Castle “Stadtschloß”, Klingenberg am Main, Germany


Josette Rey-Debove was a highly respected linguist who devoted her professional life to the study of words and the making of dictionaries. Her incisive and impassioned approach to linguistic issues earned her a reputation as both a scholar and a provocateur. She wrote books on lexical semantics and semiotics, and advised official bodies on spelling reform and the feminization of French nouns. Her main contribution to semiotic theory, entitled Le Métalangage, deals with a central topic in lexicographic studies. Josette Rey-Debove made a fundamental contribution to several prestigious dictionaries, including the Grand Robert and Petit Robert. She also created the Robert méthodique/Brio, an innovative dictionary that analyses the lexical morphology of the French language, and a dictionary for learners of French, the Dictionnaire du français (Le Robert/CLE).


Following the Journées allemandes des dictionnaires, held in June 2004 in Klingenberg am Main, the Institute of Applied Linguistics at Erlangen University (Institut für Angewandte Sprachwissenschaft) is organizing an international lexicography conference for the second time. The “Second German Days of Dictionaries” will have as its central theme lexicography and didactics. Michaela Heinz is responsible for the conference, and Franz-Josef Hausmann is its scientific consultant. It is sponsored by, among others, the German National Research Fund and the Embassy of France in Germany. The language of the conference is French.

Josette Rey-Debove was at the heart of the 2004 conference, and the idea for organizing another such event was inspired by her. Her work, both metalexicographic and lexicographic, again serves as a thematic basis of the conference, in particular her learners dictionaries for different audiences: le Petit Robert des Enfants, le Robert méthodique/Brio, le Robert quotidien, and le Dictionnaire du français.

Josette Rey-Debove passed away suddenly on 22 February 2005. The conference Le Dictionnnaire maître de langue is dedicated to her memory. Alain Rey will deliver the opening memorial address.

The program contains the following themes:

  • Learning to learn: learning from the dictionary; learning first words

A dictionary, whether bilingual or monolingual, always plays an important role in vocabulary acquisition, especially in electronic applications. But prior to that, one must “learn” the dictionary itself – its codes, its abbreviations, and its structure. What does lexicography do in order to facilitate this learning? What should it do? (cf. P. Bogaards’ paper).

Monolingual dictionaries for children help them to acquire the first words of French as their mother tongue. This enhances the importance of adapting the lexicographic definitions in consideration of the children’s audience (cf. M. Rossi).

  • The didactic aspects of different types of bilingual dictionaries

A dictionary is an archetypal didactic piece of work. Its “didacticity” may be more or less premeditated, more or less evident, or more or less hidden. We can always reveal in it some didactic aspect, in relation to its size, its status, and the targeted audience and age group (French as a foreign language or French as a native language, professionals or language learners, adults, students or children, etc). The wide category of bilingual dictionaries serves to uncover the didactic features of various types of dictionaries (cf. R. Brockmeier, V. Schnorr, M. Back, I. Kernerman, M.-Cl. Jadin, S. Schneider, A. Farina).

  • Dictionary and electronic medium

A dictionary in book form does not help vocabulary acquisition in the same way as the same dictionary in electronic form. A traditional printed dictionary that has been computerized does not have the same qualities as one conceived a priori for electronic usage. A dictionary in book form, but produced on computer, looks different than a dictionary in book form that was not created by electronic means. Similarly, a learners dictionary on CD has different constraints than an online dictionary. What are the merits, the shortcomings, and the difficulties concerning these different forms, and electronic media in particular? (cf. U. Heid, J. Binon / S. Verlinde, I. Kernerman, M. Back).

  • Monolingual dictionaries – some particular lexicographic information

It is rare to find non-professional users who are familiar with how to use a dictionary for purposes other than word search. Yet good dictionaries offer many more kinds of information, often unsuspected. These include details about grammar, morphologic relations, etc. (cf. B. Gaillard, F. Martin-Berthet).

Using information boxes (a device that turns out to be more and more frequent in contemporary dictionaries, whether monolingual or bilingual) enables lexicographers to address users in a less rigid style than entries with a fixed information structure (cf. M. Heinz).

  • The dictionary as a countermeasure against linguistic insecurity

For a large number of French speakers, a word or meaning “which is not in the dictionary” is considered to be suspicious or linguistically inexistent. This attitude derives from a linguistic insecurity encountered not only by non-French native speakers of French (such as in Belgium, Switzerland, Québec), who speak another variety of the French language than that spoken in France, but also by some Frenchmen living in regions outside Paris, whose spoken language deviates from the (implicit) Parisian norm. Dictionaries have the power to deal with such insecurity by endorsing (or not) the regional or “popular” words when registering them (or not) in their pages. The lexicographic treatment of these words requires a certain didactic presentation because the dictionaries that record diatopic varieties also serve as learning tools, and not only for reference purposes (cf. M. Berré, L. Mercier, A. Thibault).

In the past, not long ago, when many Frenchmen spoke regional languages other than French, bilingual dictionaries were made for such audiences (cf. P. Rézeau).

  • Pictures and dictionaries

Since the publication of Comenius’ Orbis Pictus (1658), the pedagogic and didactic power of images in the process of learning words has not been refuted. Particularly, dictionaries for children and pupils cannot be but illustrated. But modern techniques enable the illustration of dictionaries for adults as well. What is the relation between a picture and a lexicographic description? Should figurative phrases be illustrated, and if so how? What are the didactive effects of typically French “iconophores”? (cf. M.-Cl. Jadin, J. Wolfbauer / E. Worbs, T. Van Male; see also the discussion between J. Rey-Debove and F. Corbin in the first Klingenberg conference, 2004).

  • Larousse, master of language

For over a century, Pierre Larousse and the dictionaries that bear his name have been synonymous with “masters of language”. What has led Pierre Larousse to the Petit Larousse? (cf. J. Pruvost).


Michaela Heinz

Conference organizer



·        Alain Rey (Dictionnaires Le Robert, Paris, France). Théorie et pratique lexicales : une dialectique (l’exemple de Josette Rey-Debove) [Lexical theory and practice: a dialectic (the example of Josette Rey-Debove)]

·        Paul Bogaards (Universiteit Leiden, the Netherlands). Du bon usage des dictionnaires : étude critique des quelques livrets d’accompagnement [On good usage of dictionaries: a critical study of some accompanying workbooks]

·        Ralf Brockmeier (Éditions Larousse, Paris, France). Le tournant didactique des dictionnaires bilingues Larousse : un premier bilan [The didactic change of Larousse bilingual dictionaries: a first appraisal]

·        Veronika Schnorr (Büro für Lexikographie, Stuttgart, Germany). Ressemblances et différences entre dictionnaire bilingue général, dictionnaire d’apprentissage et vocabulaire de base [Similarities and differences among general bilingual dictionaries, learners dictionaries and basic vocabularies]

·        Martyn Back (Dictionnaires Le Robert, Paris, France). Conception et réalisation des Robert Collins Junior Bilingue [Design and creation of the Robert Collins Junior Bilingue]

·        Ilan Kernerman (K Dictionaries, Tel Aviv, Israel). Le dictionnaire semi-bilingue et au-delà [The semi-bilingual dictionary and beyond]

·        Ulrich Heid (Universität Stuttgart, Germany). Les collocations dans les dictionnaires didactiques électroniques [Collocations in electronic learners dictionaries]

·        Jean Binon / Serge Verlinde (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium). De la lexicographie d’apprentissage à l’environnement d’apprentissage [From learners lexicography to learners environment]

·        Marie-Claude Jadin (Lexicographer, Nancy, France). Les dictionnaires bilingues (français et allemand) [Bilingual dictionaries (French and German)]

·        Simone Schneider (Universität Würzburg, Germany). L’utilisation des dictionnaires monolingues français dans les lycées bavarois [The use of French monolingual dictionaries in Bavarian high schools]

·        Michaela Heinz (Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany). Les encadrés du Robert quotidien [The information boxes in the Robert quotidien]

·        Françoise Martin-Berthet (Université Paris-XIII, France). Didactique de la morphologie lexicale : le Robert Brio [Didactics of lexical morphology: the Robert Brio]

·        Annick Farina (Università degli Studi di Firenze, Italy). Problèmes de traitement des « pragmatèmes » dans les dictionnaires bilingues [Problems of treating “pragmatèmes” in bilingual dictionaries]

·        Pierre Rézeau (Lexicographer, Strasbourg, France). Un dictionnaire languedocien-français anonyme (ca 1800) et ses vertus pour l’apprentissage du français [An anonymous Languedocian-French dictionary (ca. 1800) and its virtues for the learning of French]

·        Michel Berré (Université de Mons-Hainaut, Belgium). Enseignement des langues et vocabulaires de base : quelques observations sur le Basis-woordenschat de Verlée (1954) et le Dictionnaire fondamental de la langue française de Gougenheim (1958) [Teaching languages and basic vocabularies: some observations about the Basis-woordenschat of Verlée (1954) and the Dictionnaire fondamental de la langue française of Gougenheim (1958)]

·        Louis Mercier (Université de Sherbrooke, Québec, Canada). Différents usages linguistiques, différents contextes référentiels : comment un dictionnaire peut aider ses lecteurs à mieux comprendre la variation du français [Different linguistic usages, different referential contexts: how a dictionary can help its readers to better understand the variation in French]

·        André Thibault (Université de Paris-Sorbonne, France). Aspects didactiques du traitement des régionalismes dans le TLF [Didactic aspects of the treatment of regionalisms in the TLF (Trésor de la langue française [Treasure of the French Language])]

·        Micaela Rossi (Università degli Studi di Genova, Italy). Dictionnaires pour enfants et apprentissage du lexique : les enjeux de la définition [Dictionaries for children and vocabulary acquisition: issues of definition]

·        Bénédicte Gaillard (Lexicographer, Paris, France). Le statut de la grammaire dans les dictionnaires pour apprenants [The status of grammar in dictionaries for learners]

·        Julia Wolfbauer / Emmanuel Worbs (Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany). Mille et un bonheurs d’expression – un dictionnaire phraséologique d’apprentissage (par Michel Boucher) [A thousand and one joys of expression – a phraseological learners dictionary (by Michel Boucher)]

·        Thora Van Male (Université de Grenoble, France). Dessins et desseins : les illustrations ornementales du Grand dictionnaire universel de Pierre Larousse [Drawings and plans : the ornamental illustrations in the Grand dictionnaire universel of Pierre Larousse]

·        Jean Pruvost (Université de Cergy-Pontoise, France). Larousse – d’un instituteur à une collection de dictionnaires pour enfants [Larousse – from school teacher to a series of dictionaries for children]



The proceedings of the first Klingenberg conference were published under the title:

L’exemple lexicographique dans les dictionnaires français contemporains

Actes des »Premières Journées allemandes des dictionnaires« (Klingenberg am Main, 25–27 juin 2004)

Edited by Michaela Heinz.

Lexicographica Series Maior 128. Max Niemeyer Verlag, München. 2005

ISBN 3-484-39128-6


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