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Cognitive Sociolinguistics in L2-variety dictionaries of English

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Abstract

The recent decades have witnessed the incorporation of new linguistic trends into lexicography. One of these trends is a usage-based approach, with the first major application of computer-corpus data in the <i>Collins COBUILD English dictionary</i> (1995) and successive adaptation in other L1-dictionaries. Another, concurrent innovation &#8212; inspired by Conceptual Metaphor Theory &#8212; is the provision of conceptual information in monolingual dictionaries of English. So far, however, only the <i>Macmillan English dictionary for advanced learners</i> (1st and 2nd edition) has paid tribute to the fact that understanding culture-specific metaphors and being aware of metaphoric usage are crucial for learning a foreign language. Given that most of the English as lingua franca interactions take place between L2-speakers of English (see Kachru, 1994), providing conceptual information is not only a desideratum for L1- and learner dictionaries, but especially for (L2-)variety dictionaries of English. In our paper, we follow earlier tentative proposals by Polzenhagen (2007) and Wolf (2012) and present examples from A dictionary of Hong Kong English (Cummings &#38; Wolf, 2011), showing how culturally salient conceptual information can be made explicit and conceptual links between lexical items retrievable. The examples demonstrate that fixed expressions and idioms &#8212; a perennial problem for lexicographers &#8212; are explicable by means of the proposed lexicographic design, too. Our approach is cognitive-sociolinguistic in that the Conceptual Metaphor approach is coupled with the study of regional varieties of English, more specifically Hong Kong English. Our analysis is empirically backed up by corpus-linguistic insights into this L2 variety.

References

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