NEWSLETTER

Kernerman Dictionary News • Number 9 • July 2001

PASSWORD for Hungarians

Tamás Magay

1. Introduction
Plenty, though by far not enough, has been said and written by outstanding scholars and lexicographers on the subject of bilingualizing the monolingual learner's dictionary. Apart from typological relevance, the problems raised and solved so far have usually been in close relation to one of the most challenging questions of (practical) lexicography: dictionary use (Atkins 1998, Cowie 1999). It is this aspect that I would like to stress in the present article: how to proceed from the present state of the art, and further refine and improve this type of dictionary.
Gabriele Stein distinguished three stages of dictionary use in foreign language acquisition, the order being of major importance: (l) the bilingual dictionary, (2) the monolingual learner's dictionary, and (3) the native-language dictionary (1990, 405). At the same time, I could not agree more with Lionel Kernerman who emphasized that the "vital element in the acquisition of a new language is associated with one's native tongue," (1994), another cardinal aspect.
The scene in Hungary, with Hungarian as one of the minor world languages spoken by 15 million people (about 10m in Hungary, 3.5m in neighbouring countries, and l.5m across the ocean), is simple. While struggling for the preservation of their mother tongue, Hungarians throughout history have always been bound to rely on foreign languages in order to keep in contact with other nations, and to survive and withstand pressure from all sides.

2. Hungarian past
The bilingual dictionary type was dominant in Hungary until the mid-twentieth century, and a dictionary was tantamount to a bilingual dictionary (with German as top priority foreign language alongside Latin, and English taking the lead as late as the 1980s-90s). The publication of Országh's monumental Dictionary of the Hungarian Language (DHL, 1959-62) turned the tide, and in the minds of the general Hungarian readership a dictionary soon began to mean a monolingual dictionary as well.
From the end of World War II until 1990, practically the sole producer of dictionaries, both scholar and commercial, was Akadémiai Kiadó (AK), publisher of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and lavishly subsidized by the state. The output was enormous. A dictionary trilogy was launched, consisting of unabridged/comprehensive, medium/concise and pocket/school dictionaries in the major languages (eg German, English, Russian). Bilinguals in languages from Albanian to Vietnamese also appeared, and specialized, multilingual and technical dictionaries, on a commercial basis too, were turned out by the score.
Scholarly dictionaries, such as Országh's seven-volume DHL, or etymological, synonym, dialect and other high-standard dictionaries (compiled by Országh, S. Eckhardt, L. Hadrovics, L. Gáldi, E. Halász, G. Bárczi, L. Benko, and others) were edited by the Acadamy's Linguistics Institute and also published by AK.

3. European presence
With the disappearance of the Iron Curtain and Communist dictatorship, exchange between East and West in both the economic and cultural spheres, and particularly in language learning and teaching, has gradually been easing. As the choice in consumer products widened, 'western' articles, including a great variety of dictionaries, became more and more available to the general public. Although the use of bilingual dictionaries by learners at all levels has not abated, firstly teachers then students of English began to prefer almost exclusively monolingual dictionaries (ALD, LDOCE, COBUILD, Chambers, etc), consciously or subconsciously inspired by the late A.S. Hornby who was "firmly committed to the pedagogical principle that English should be learned through the medium of English" (Marello 1998, 292). Hornby was likewise unwilling to accept that the learner's mother tongue "could be used for the initial presentation of meaning" (Marello ibid). Hornby's principles were readily shared in Hungary by a significant section of the English teaching profession. However, bilingual dictionaries continued to be sold in ever-increasing numbers.
I have tested university students on dictionary use several times in the past few years, and it turned out that bilingual dictionaries were top priority both for the comprehension and production of English texts, and that among the monolingual dictionaries, learner's dictionaries were preferred to a great extent, mostly for their contextual examples which users badly miss in bilingual dictionaries.
Then again, testing students during the past semester (2000/200l) surprised us with the finding that 39% of them discovered in our department library Magyar Chambers (MC, AK 1992), the Hungarian semi-bilingual version of Chambers Concise Usage Dictionary (CCUD). The answer as to why they liked it was usually its happy mingling (or constellation) of the source-language (English) headword+definition+ examples with the target-language (Hungarian) equivalent.
In this chain of criteria the definition proved the weakest link, which called for another test: what can a student of English make of a dictionary definition when, for instance, reading or translating from English into Hungarian (L2-L1). The following examples may perhaps support my reservations concerning definitions, especially in the notional sphere of words. In the test, students could use any or all three dictionaries referred to below. The figure in square brackets indicates the number of students who were able to find the adequate Hungarian equivalent of the English word, or its relevant meaning or sense:

(1) commune [3 out of 40 students]:
ALD: a group of people, not all of one family, living together and sharing property and responsibilities
CCUD: a group of people living together and sharing everything they own
LDOCE: a group of people who live together and who share the work and their possessions

(2) communion [2 out of 40 students]:
ALD: the state of sharing or exchanging the same thoughts or feelings
CCUD: the sharing of thoughts and feeling
LDOCE: a special relationship with someone or something in which you feel that you understand them very well

(3) dazzle [8 out of 40 students]:
ALD: to impress sb greatly through beauty, knowledege, skill, etc
CCUD: to affect the ability of making correct judgements
LDOCE: to make someone feel strong admiration

In another test, half of the students were allowed to use a bilingual English-Hungarian dictionary (EHD 1999), and the other half used MC. In the first group, 15 out of 20 found adequate Hungarian equivalents, while all the MC users found the best equivalents. The tests proved statistically what the actual practice was: English students began to prefer using MC because (a) it saved them time, and (b) with Hungarian equivalents in the context of English it was much easier to disambiguate meaning and reference in finding the adequate native-language equivalent.
Another advantage of the bilingualized dictionary is that the user is not forced to step out of the English context, since the text is about 85% monolingual and only 15% bilingual. In Kernerman's words, [the semi-bilingual dictionary] "contains the advantages of the monolingual learner's dictionary, combined with the native tongue translation found in the bilingual dictionary. The ambiguity of the bilingual dictionary is thus automatically eliminated. Learners are encouraged to read the definitions and examples of usage in English, since only the headwords [with their various senses] are translated" (1994).

4. Devil in details
If we look at a dictionary entry under a magnifying glass, discrepancies, mistakes, omissions and inconsistencies become obvious. In the second part of this article we deal with such shortcomings concerning both the macrostructure and the microstructure found in the course of revising and updating the original edition of MC. The new edition will be published as Password for Hungarians (PH) by Nemzeti Tankönyvkiadó (NTK, National Textbook Publishing House, Budapest).

(a) Entry structure and headword arrangement
Roughly speaking, there are two widely different ways of arranging entry words (headwords) and their derivatives, collocations and idioms: the cluster-type (or etymological) arrangement, and the strictly alphabetical arrangement wherein lexemes and their derivatives figure as separate entries. The first is more convenient for writing (or encoding), the other for reading (decoding) (Cowie 2000). There are, of course, possibilities and cases of combining the two methods. CCUD, which forms the basis for MC and various other adaptations known as Password, employs the cluster-type arrangement.
If one of the aims of the dictionary look-up process is quick accessibility, then the Password arrangement is inadquate. If, however, there is more to it, eg the pedagogical aspect, then it will win over generations of users, because it will help "grasp connections of meaning and form across the entries" (Cowie ibid). The etymologically-based cluster-type structure will enhance the lexicological awareness of the user with its information on derivatives, compounds, phrasal verbs and other idioms in a fixed order. Here is an example for this type of arrangement in MC:
heart
-hearted
hearten
heartless
heartlessly
heartlessness
hearts
hearty
heartily
heartiness
[so far derivatives]
heartache
heart attack
heartbeat
heartbreak
[etc, compounds]
at heart
break someone's heart
by heart
from the bottom of one's heart
have a change of heart
[etc, idioms]

Once the user has taken up the 'rhythm' that is common to all entries (and if he/she is encouraged to 'learn' it from the front matter), the dictionary can be used more efficiently and profitably than with the strictly alphabetical (and perhaps quicker) method, because what happens here is-willy-nilly-vocabulary extension, an essential element of language pedagogy. Of course, this system, as any other system, is not flawless either, and has its weaknesses. Here are some examples:
If donor is found under donate, why do deceit or deception and deceptive not come under deceive? And why are defiance and defiant separate entries, and not entered under defy? Again, counter
2 adverb, verb and counter3 noun are separate entries while counter1 cross-refers to count2 where it figures with other derivatives (countable, counter1, countless etc). And why does easily come under ease and not under easy? Such inconsistencies are confusing.

(b) Pronunciation and stress marking
The phonetic notation in CCUD has become out of date and needed updating, By now the leading monolingual learner's dictionaries have come to terms, as it were, concerning the symbols used. While the new PH does indeed carry this out, there is a systemic flaw in the Chambers-based core which would call for major reshaping, namely to be somewhat more generous with full pronunciations given to derivatives, and to be more explicit (or less laconic) with partial pronunciations. A few examples will make this point clearer.
adaptation has only [a-], completion [-sen.], inferiority [-'o-]; adaptor, adequacy, dicey or hearty receive no pronunciation; apprenticeship has no pronunciation, whereas it cannot be inferred from the pronunciation given to apprentice. Similarly, the pronunciation of derisive cannot be inferred from that of derision, nor can malicious be predicted from malice.
In the cases of zero pronunciation, the dictionary consistently marks the stress in bold headwords or sub-headwords. However, it might be considered an inconsistency that whereas pronunciations, full or partial, have only main stresses, sub-headwords (usually derivatives) receive secondary stress as well. For example, whereas intermittent has pronunciation with a main stress, ,inter'mittently is given without pronunciation but with both secondary and main stresses, as do encyclop(a)edia and en,cyclo'p(a)edic.

(c) Run-on entries vs the 'one only' equivalent
In the former edition, undefined run-on entries (mostly derivatives of main headwords) did not get a Hungarian translation. The reason for this was not sheer neglect but intentional. Since lexemes, ie entry words, often have more than one meaning, and so do most of their derivatives, how could we have found one equivalent only for an entry word containing, say, six senses, as with circulation, or seven senses, as with closeness, or the two widely distinct meanings of engagement or collaborator? The translator of the new edition could do nothing but give a single translation for the 'most important'(?) meaning, and perhaps one or two more, separated by a semicolon, to 'rhyme' with the semantic structure of the entry.

(d) Peripheral entries and end matter
CCUD, and thus MC, omitted important cultural, linguistic and geographical elements. This is provided for in the new PH, along with a more representative coverage of the commonest abbreviations and acronyms in its headword-list. Other innovations that will make PH more useful and colourful include full-page pictorial illustrations, tables of weights and measures, common irregular verbs with a brief grammar; and geographical names listing country names, their adjectives and pronunciation. A major addition of PH is a Hungarian-English index, to facilitate the two-way use of the dictionary and enhance the process of encoding (L1-L2 use), making this dictionary more user-friendly than its predecessor.

5. Conclusion
The relationship between pedagogical lexicography and dictionary use is treated here in terms of the bilingualized learner's dictionary. Tests among university students of English in Hungary proved for beginners and more advanced students alike the usefulness and advantages of the semi-bilingual dictionary over the bilingual on the one hand, and the monolingual learner's dictionary on the other hand. The most striking hindrances, eg the omission of example sentences from the bilingual, and definitions giving rise to disambiguity in the monolingual, are largely eliminated from this type of dictionary. However, a great deal still needs to be improved in the bilingualized adapatations, in particular the CCUD base of this revision, which could do with yet further (even structural) alterations.


References

(a) dictionaries cited:
ALD
Hornby, A.S., J. Crowther (ed.) 1995. Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary 5/e, Oxford: OUP.
CCUD Schwarz C.M. and Seaton M.A. (eds.) 1985. Chambers Concise Usage Dictionary. Edinburgh: W&R Chambers.
COBUILD Sinclair, John et. al. 1996. Collins COBUILD Learner's Dictionary. London: HarperCollins Publishers.
DHL Országh, L. et al. (eds.) 1959-62. Dictionary of the Hungarian Language. Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó.
EHD Országh, L. et al. (eds.) 1999. English-Hungarian Dictionary. Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó.
LDOCE Procter, P. et al. 1978. Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English. Harlow and London: Longman.
MC Schwarz C.M., Seaton M.A., Magay T. 1992. Magyar Chambers English Dictionary for Speakers of Hungarian. Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó.
PH Magay T. (ed.) 2001. Password for Hungarians. Budapest: Nemzeti Tankönyvkiadó. Forthcoming.

(b) other references:
Atkins, B.T.S.
(ed.) 1998. Using Dictionaries: Studies of Dictionary Use by Language Learners and Translators. Lexicographica, Series Maior 88. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag.
Battenburg, J.D. 1991. English Monolingual Learner's Dictionaries: A User-Oriented Study. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag.
Cowie, A.P. 1999. English Dictionaries for Foreign Learners - a History. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Cowie, A.P. 2000. 'The EFL Dictionary Pioneers and their Legacies.' In Kernerman Dictionary News, 8.
Hartmann, R.R.K. 1992. 'Learner's References: from the Monolingual to the Bilingual Dictionary.' In H. Tommola et al. (eds.), EURALEX '92 Proceedings. Tampere: Tampereen Yliopisto.
Kernerman, L. 1994. 'The Advent of the Semi-Bilingual Dictionary.' In Password News.
Kernerman, L. 1996. 'English Learners' Dictionaries: How much do we know about their use?' In M. Gellerstam et al. (eds.), EURALEX '96 Proceedings. Göteborg: Göteborg University.
Marello, C. 1998. 'Hornby's Bilingualized Dictionaries.' In International Journal of Lexicography, 11.4.
Reif, J.A. 1987. 'The Development of a Dictionary Concept: An English Learners' Dictionary and an Exotic Alphabet.' In A.P. Cowie (ed.), The Dictionary and the Language Learner. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag.
Stein, G. 1990. 'From the Bilingual to the Monolingual Dictionary.' In T. Magay and J. Zigány (eds.), BudaLEX '88 Proceedings. Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó.


Editor's acknowledgement:
Special thanks to Mihály Benedek for helping to coordinate the production of this paper.

About the author
Tamás Magay was born in 1928 in Kaposvár, and graduated in English language and literature from the University of Budapest. He studied lexicography under L. Országh, and wrote his theses on the history of English lexicography in Hungary and the principles of bilingual lexicography. He was co-author and later editor-in-chief of a series of English/Hungarian dictionaries, and edited, among others, a major phraseological bilingual dictionary and a pronunciation dictionary of Hungarian proper names. He is a founding member of Euralex and organized its third congress (Budalex '88), and founded and heads the English Department of the new Gáspár Károli University, including lexicography and lexicology studies. Dr Magay edited the first semi-bilingual dictionary in Hungary (Magyar Chambers, 1992) and is the editor of the forthcoming second version.

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