Kernerman Dictionary News • Number 15 • July 2007
Lexicography at the
With the Poznań School of English being a major
centre of English studies in
The first one in a series of newly compiled bilingual (as opposed to bilingualized) dictionaries was the Collins English-Polish and Polish-English dictionary (1996, 1997, 2000). This two-volume work has received much praise for its coverage of contemporary colloquial English and Polish, and the lexicographic treatment which, while focusing on the Polish user, did not neglect the encoding needs of the native speaker of English. At about the same time Collins published another smaller bilingual dictionary in the Gem series (1996, with later editions in 1997, 1999).
The pocket-sized Longman Podręczny Słownik Angielsko-Polski, Polsko-Angielski appeared in 1999, a compact yet utterly modern dictionary in its compilation, content, and presentation. Its instant success inspired the larger and highly innovative Longman Słownik Współczesny (2004). This was the first dictionary for Polish learners of English designed specifically for target language production, largely freeing the Polish user engaged in English text production from the need to consult a monolingual dictionary or flip between the two volumes of a traditional bilingual dictionary (see Adamska-Sałaciak 2005, Kernerman Dictionary News 13: 23-26).
In terms of volume, the single largest lexicographic project at IFA so far has been the compilation of the most comprehensive bilingual Polish-English and English-Polish dictionary to date, Nowy słownik Fundacji Kościuszkowskiej angielsko-polski, polsko-angielski. The new English-Polish and Polish-English Kosciuszko Foundation dictionary (2003). The two thick volumes of this sizeable dictionary include over 130,000 headwords and around 400,000 translations.
IFA lexicographers have also contributed to specialized
bilingual lexicography, and here I should mention dictionaries of information
technology (Słownik informatyczny
angielsko-polski, 1990) and of television advertising (Angielsko-polski słownik reklamy
telewizyjnej, 2003). A pictorial English dictionary for children was
published in 1990 (Słownik
obrazkowy języka angielskiego). Specialized dictionaries of
multi-word units have also been developed in
One may wonder why so many significant lexicographic works should have been produced at a single academic institution. I believe this is through a lucky combination of several factors. Firstly, the personal qualities of the long-time head, professor Jacek Fisiak: his enthusiasm, foresight and organizational skills; then, the effort and skills of the linguists at IFA; finally, the sheer size of the institution itself, its research potential and emphasis on modern technology were able to ensure the completion of major lexicographic projects on time or with only relatively small delays. The expert IT support provided by Michał Jankowski and Mariusz Idzikowski made it possible to develop in-house dictionary writing tools, and even build a dedicated corpus of Polish to assist in some of the projects. No wonder that such a combination has made IFA a desirable partner for a number of major players in English lexicography worldwide.
At IFA, the practical lexicographic work of designing and compiling dictionaries goes hand in hand with theoretical lexicographic reflection and empirical work on dictionary use, as reflected in numerous publications, including a number of books and dissertations. Let us have a brief look at a representative selection.
The one work most closely related to practical lexicographic projects is Adamska-Sałaciak’s recent book (2006), offering a fresh and original analysis of some of the central theoretical and practical issues in bilingual lexicography (see the review). Also inspired by practical lexicographic work, Lew (2004) reports on a large-scale experimental study of the effectiveness of monolingual, bilingual and semi-bilingual dictionary types for Polish learners of various proficiency levels involved in receptive tasks. Dziemianko (2006) studies the user-friendliness of the various ways of conveying verb syntax information in dictionary entries (see the review). Szczepaniak (2006) examines the extent to which monolingual learners’ dictionaries can assist Polish learners in interpreting creatively modified idioms.
The lexicographic research at IFA is not restricted to Polish and English lexicography, as demonstrated by the recent PhD dissertation by Ptaszyński (2006), who looks diachronically at the usage information in bilingual English/Danish dictionaries .
The study of the phonetic aspect of dictionaries, including electronic ones, is another important area of lexicographic research at IFA. Włodzimierz Sobkowiak has published a study on how pronunciation is treated in electronic dictionaries (Sobkowiak 1999), and another recent one on the phonetics of dictionary definitions (Sobkowiak 2006). While arguing for proper attention to be given to pronunciation, on a par with other linguistic dimensions of lexicographic description, Sobkowiak actually demonstrates the ways in which this imbalance might be rectified (see the review). The same author has also created several versions of an electronic Phonetic Access Dictionary (non-commercial).
The example of the Poznań School of English shows that an alternative model of practical lexicography, one where dictionary-writing is not a full-time job but rather a sideline of university-employed linguists, is actually a viable one, and need not compromise dictionary quality, completion deadlines, or research. Actually, for that to be possible, there is yet one more key quality that’s very characteristic of IFA: workaholism.