What is unfortunately not always realized in connection with the compiling of bilingual dictionaries is that the same bilingual dictionary cannot serve the needs of the speakers of both languages. Professor Shcherba maintained that for every two languages four bilingual dictionaries are necessary. An English-Russian dictionary for Russians is different from an English-Russian dictionary for British or American readers. The first will be primarily used to translate written or spoken English into Russian, which is the reader's native language. The same book cannot be used, or at least is likely to be very inadequate, for a reader who is primarily concerned not with understanding a foreign text but with expressing himself in a foreign language, either in writing or in speaking. This latter task of coping both with the written and the spoken forms of the language is also very important for the lexicographer. Bilingual dictionaries therefore should be arranged so as to take account of what the native language of the user is supposed to be.
Each language has its own brand of difficulties and these are apt to vary depending on the language it is compared with. There are innumerable facts about English which are known to every native speaker but must be explained to a foreigner. Moreover, the English part of the English- Spanish dictionary may be different from that in the English-Russian dictionary; different languages are self-contained specific systems showing only little isomorphism with one another.
It should also be realized that a bilingual dictionary is not equivalent to a unilingual dictionary, with the head-word or the explanatory part of every entry translated into the target language, but an essentially different arrangement of material conditioned by the needs of its readers.
The English-speaking user of a unilingual dictionary is likely to know the meaning of all the words in the explanatory part and should therefore be able to find the appropriate meaning for his context. The Russian speaking user of a Russian-English dictionary would refer to its entries in order to express himself in English and he will need to know how the English words he finds there are used. He will also need additional information about the difference in meaning between the English words in the entry, when there are several of them. The Russian-speaking user of an English-Russian dictionary, on the other hand, will use it to translate written or spoken English into his native Russian. He must know the main Russian equivalent and the difference in the semantic structure of the foreign word as compared to its equivalent in his native language.
The conflict between the persisting native system of semantic ties and the new foreign language habits will not be so intense here as in the native-to-foreign translation, so the information on grammatical usage is not necessary, or at any rate it can be more limited. A good knowledge of word-formational principles of the foreign language is essential because it can compensate the absence of some entries (which is impossible in the native-to-foreign dictionary).
Bilingual or translation dictionaries (sometimes also called parallel) are wordbooks containing vocabulary items in one language and their equivalents in another language. Many English-Russian and Russian-English dictionaries have been made in our country to meet the demands of language students and those who use English in their work. The most representative translation dictionaries for English are the New English-Russian Dictionary edited by Prof. I. R. Galperin, the English-Russian Dictionary by Prof. V. K. Muller and The Russian-English Dictionary under prof. A. I. Smirnitsky's general direction.
To sum up: the native-to-foreign and foreign-to-native dictionaries have to meet different requirements as they supply information for different types of work. A good dictionary is one where you can quickly find what you are looking for. The problems of convenience are of paramount importance.
"Nothing could be sillier than the tacit assumption, far too commonly encountered, that it is somehow good for the soul of the user if he has to work hard to find what he is looking for."
Lexicography uses many methods few of which have been consistently and scientifically explained. The indifference which lexicography displays towards its own methodology is sometimes astonishing, at any rate as far as American linguistics is concerned. Happily, there have been increasing signs of a change in the situation. The problems of lexicographic theory have been explored over past five years in this country in all its manifold aspects. This effort is embodied in the doctoral thesis of V. M. Berkov and a number of articles and candidate dissertations.
Various opinions have been expressed on the optimum solution of these and many more problems, and much yet remains to be done. The above review cannot be exhaustive: those who are interested in lexicography will find much valuable material in special literature.
C. Specialized dictionariesPhraseological dictionaries in England and America have accumulated vast collections of idiomatic or colloquial phrases, proverbs and other, usually image-bearing word- groups with profuse illustrations. But the compilers' approach is in most cases purely empiric. By phraseology many of them mean all forms of linguistic anomalies which transgress the laws of grammar or logic and which are approved by usage. Therefore alongside set-phrases they enter free phrases and even separate words. The choice of items is arbitrary, based on intuition and not on any objective criteria..
An Anglo-Russian Phraseological Dictionary by A. V. Koonin published in our country has many advantages over the reference books published abroad and can be considered the first dictionary of English phraseology proper. To ensure the highest possible cognitive value and quick finding of necessary phrases the dictionary enters phrase variants and structural synonyms, distinguishes between polysemantic and homonymic phrases, shows word- and form-building abilities of phraseological units and illustrates their use by quotations.
New Words dictionaries have it as their aim adequate reflection" of the continuous growth of the English language.
There are three dictionaries of neologisms for Modern English. Two of these (Berg P. A Dictionary of New Words in English,1953; Reifer M. Dictionary of New Words,N. Y., 1955) came out in the middle of the '50s and are somewhat out-of-date. The third (A Dictionary of New English. A Barnhart Dictionary, L., 1973) is more up-to-date.
The Barnhart Dictionary of New English covers words, phrases, meanings and abbreviations which came into the vocabulary of the English language during the period 1963 — 1972. The new items were collected from the reading of over half a million running words from US, British and Canadian sources — newspapers, magazines and books.
Dictionaries of slang contain elements from areas of substandard speech such as vulgarisms, jargonisms, taboo words, curse-words, colloquialisms, etc.
The most well-known dictionaries of the type are Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English by E. Partridge, Dictionary of the Underworld: British and American, The American Thesaurus of Slang by L. V. Berry &M. Den Bork, The Dictionary of American Slang by И. Wentworth and S. B. Flexner.
Usage dictionaries make it their business to pass judgement on usage problems of all kinds, on what is right or wrong. Designed for native speakers they supply much various information on such usage problems as, e.g., the difference in meaning between words like comedy, farce and burlesque, illusion and delusion, formality and formalism, the proper pronunciation of words like foyer, yolk, nonchalant, the plural forms of the nouns flamingo, radix, commander-in-chief, the meaning of such foreign words as quorum, quadroon, quattrocento, and of such archaic words as yon, yclept, and so forth. They also explain what is meant by neologisms, archaisms, colloquial and slang words and how one is to handle them, etc.
The most widely used usage guide is the classic Dictionary of Modern English Usage by N. W. Fowler. Based on it are Usage and Abusage, and Guide to Good English by E. Partridge, A
Dictionary of American English Usage by M. Nicholson, and others. Perhaps the best usage dictionary is A Dictionary of Contemporary American Usage by B. Evans and C. Evans. (N. Y., 1957).
Dictionaries of word-frequency inform the user as to the frequency of occurrence of lexical units in speech, to be more exact in the "corpus of the reading matter or in the stretch of oral speech on which the word-counts are based.
As for English lexicography, I may say that it is probably the richest in the world with respect to variety and scope of the dictionaries published. The demand for the dictionary is very great.