Lexicography and Linguistic Diversity         
Euralex 2016  

We are very pleased to publish abstracts of the keynote speeches, as well as topics of discussion and panellists of the round table at the XVII EURALEX International Congress: 

  1. Jost Gippert (Goethe University Frankfurt am Main) - Complex morphology and its impact on lexicology: the Kartvelian case.

The keynote deals with the impact of complex morphological structures on essential aspects of lexicology. On the basis of data from the so-called Kartvelian (South-Caucasian) language family (consisting of Georgian and its sister-languages), it discusses questions of how to lemmatize nominal and verbal word forms so that they can be arranged in a consistent and appropriate way in dictionaries and databases. The most prominent approaches that have been developed since the first attempt to provide a dictionary of Georgian (Paolini & Irbachi 1629) are analyzed with a view to their applicability, usability, and conclusiveness.

  1. Pius ten Hacken (Universität Innsbruck)  - Bilingual dictionaries and theories of word meaning.

The nature of word meaning is a matter of debate. I will consider four conceptions of meaning and their consequences for the interpretation of the information in bilingual dictionaries. The first is the view that the meaning of a word is the set of objects it can refer to. This view is widely held in philosophy and logic. A second view considers meaning as the relations of a word to other words. It emerged in structuralist linguistics. A third view takes the use of a word as the basis for its meaning. This is the view that underlies corpus linguistics. Finally I will consider a cognitive view of word meaning, which assumes that the meaning of a word is realized in the knowledge a speaker has of that word. To a certain degree, aspects of these different views can be combined. In making a bilingual dictionary, it is not crucial to adopt one particular semantic theory, but the interpretation of the entries depends on the theoretical background.

  1. Geoffrey Williams (Université de Bretagne Sud) - In praise of lexicography.

The title of this paper draws deliberately on that of John Sinclair’s keynote in Lorient in 2004,
In praise of the dictionary. Whereas John Sinclair concentrated on the product, the dictionary, I shall concentrate of the field, and the harmless drudges who undertake the activity. The starting point will be Georgian lexicography and its importance to the national language and culture. This leads naturally to my own feelings as to the role of lexicography today and the science policy challenges it faces. I shall then discuss the importance of maintaining a high profile in the face of a general funding crisis in research, its place on the European research scene and the influence of evaluation schemes, impact analysis and open access. In a second part, I shall give praise to two particular lexicographers – Antoine Furetière and Henri Basnage de Beauval – and discuss the importance of historical lexicography with the context of digital humanities.

  1. Hornby lecture will be delivered by Robert Ilson (University College London) – Why Dictionaries are no better than they are -- and no worse

    1) Why Dictionaries are no better than they are :-
Lexicography is beset with problems at three levels :-
    1.1) Metalexicography (ie lexicographic theory), which includes linguistic theory ;
    1.2) Lexicography Proper (ie the confection of dictionaries) ;
    1.3) Dictionnairique (ie the organisation of lexicographic projects and the selling of their products).
    Or, in plainer words, problems about what to say, how to say it, and how to present it.
    Many such problems stem from the failure to generalise best practice across genres and languages, and from the failure to exploit fully the Explanatory Technique of Exemplification.

    2) Why Dictionaries are no worse than they are :-
    2.1) Dictionary-users, as native speakers of at least one human language, already know a great deal about language in general and about the world, which enables them to supplement and interpret correctly the information offered by dictionaries ;
    2.2) Many dictionary-users come from dictionnairate communities, in which dictionaries and their conventions are widespread and well known.

Round table discussion on the status of lexicography.

One of the hot topics today is whether lexicography should be seen merely as a “craft”, or as a scientific academic discipline whose theory should be taught in universities, like mainstream linguistics. Can lexicography, which increasingly capitalizes on advances in corpus linguistics, be associated with a new theory of language? Should lexicographers see themselves as craftsmen only, or should they rather be more than ever aware of the relevant theoretical frameworks and principles of lexical semantics? This round table featuring a number of distinguished specialists hailing from the academic and publishing worlds will help us clarify the status of lexicography.


1. Thierry Fontenelle (Translation Centre for the Bodies of the European Union).
2. Patrick Hanks (University of Wolverhampton, UK)
3. Rufus Gouws (Stellenbosch University)
4. Robert Ilson (University College London)
5. Tinatin Margalitadze (Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University)

Round Table will be moderated by Thierry Fontenelle.