The Editorial Principles Underlying
the PASSPORT Dictionary
English Learner's Dictionary seeks
to satisfy the needs of "intermediate" learners of
English as a foreign language - those numerous people, young
and adult, students and professionals, the "man and woman
in the street" - who require a working knowledge of the
language for the purpose of everyday communication in speech
The vocabulary of approximately 11,500 English headwords consists
of the most frequent words in the language likely to be encountered
by these populations, and covers the important topic areas of
different professions, including computer and information technology,
leisure requirements, culture, public affairs, popular and serious
journalism, travel, sport, school and university studies, and
The structure of the dictionary consists of the headword and,
in most cases, a number of example sentences and phrases. The
headwords are translated into the first language of the learner;
where a word is polysemantic, each separate meaning is entered
as a sub-entry and translated. The separation of these different
meanings (sub-entries) and the carefully chosen examples provide
the essential context for understanding the headword, in accordance
with the linguistic principle of context-sensitivity, i.e. the
meaning lies in part in the context and may well vary according
to the context.
In this way learners will not fall into the semantic trap of
"the-same-word-different-meanings" polysemes existing
in everyday language (apart from technical terms) and in addition
will meet the word in its syntactic context, enabling the learner
to see its grammatical uses in terms of word order, accompanying
function words, tense, aspect and voice features for verbs (and
in many cases the negative and interrogative forms). For reasons
of space, not every word has this maximum contextualisation,
but every effort has been made to locate and deal with potential
semantic and syntactic problems in this way.
In order to be as user-friendly as possible and to prevent unnecessary
searches in the dictionary for unfamiliar words in these examples,
the language of the contextualising sentences and phrases has
been kept as simple and short as possible, with the verbal forms
limited to the present, past, and future tenses (positive, negative,
and interrogative), some modals (e.g. 'can', 'must'), and occasionally
the passive voice. Forms of the perfect aspect have been avoided,
unless there is no alternative (e.g. with 'yet', 'since', 'for').
The PASSPORT dictionary is genuinely
international in scope and orientation. English is a language
of world communication, and its major varieties (British and
American) are used everywhere. Accordingly, both American and
British English are covered: different words (e.g. tap/faucet),
different spellings (e.g. color/colour), different usage (e.g.
subway), etc. Cross-references between American and British English
are always provided, so that the user of this dictionary will
not be confused.
PASSPORT is primarily a 'decoding'
English learner's dictionary, enabling the user to understand
English by means of the translation into the native language
and by the example sentences and phrases. However, a reverse
dictionary is also provided, in order to enable the learner to
proceed from the first language into the foreign language ('encoding'):
the reverse dictionary refers the learner to the English headwords
by means of the key of the items which have been translated into
the first language.
Every effort has been made to have this dictionary as up-to-date
and relevant as possible, with headwords and examples in the
Standard English of the 1990s, and dealing with topic areas,
such as computers, with which beginner-to-intermediate learners
will undoubtedly be familiar.
I am sure that this bilingualised dictionary - which contains
sample sentences and phrases to contextualise and clarify the
meaning, along with specific notes on usage, spelling, grammar,
and references to potential native-tongue interference - will
answer the needs of the vast numbers of learners at this level
of English as the Language of World Communication.
Raphael Gefen is the editor of Passport
English Learner's Dictionary.
K Dictionaries Ltd
10 Nahum Street, Tel Aviv 63503 Israel
tel: 972-3-5468102 fax: 972-3-5468103