Corpus-based versus Lexicographer Examples in Comprehension and Production of New Words

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


In most linguistic analyses a word is described as a set of properties, or features (Lado 1972; Chomsky 1965; Gibson and Levin 1975; Richards 1976). Thus knowing a word would ideally imply familiarity with all its properties, as is often the case with an educated native speaker. When a person 'knows’ a word, he/she knows the following: the word’s pronunciation, its spelling, its morphological components, if any, the words that are morphologically related to it, the word’s syntactic behaviour in a sentence, the full range of the word’s meaning, the appropriate situations for using the word, its collocational restrictions, its distribution and the relation between the word and other words within a lexical set. (For a discussion of word knowledge see, for example, Nation 1990 and Laufer 1991). Unlike an educated native speaker of a language, the foreign language learner knows a much smaller number of words. In some European countries and Israel lexical knowledge is about 2,000-3,000 word families, in some Asian countries 750-1,500 (Laufer 1991). In many cases, word knowledge is only partial, i.e. the learner may have mastered some of the word’s properties but not the others. In fact, the plurality of word features to be learnt increases the probability of a word being only partially learnt. One possible source of information about a totally new word or a partially learnt word is the learner’s dictionary. The phonetic script shows the right pronunciation, the grammatical specifications provide information about the syntactic behaviour of the word, the derivatives in the entry show which words are morphologically related to the looked-up word. The definition explains the meaning, or meanings of the word, register specification adds information about the affective and pragmatic aspects of meaning.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPractical Lexicography
Subtitle of host publicationA Reader
EditorsT. Fontenelle
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9781383043891
ISBN (Print)9780199292332
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© editorial matter and organization Thierry Fontenelle 2008.


  • educated
  • European
  • increases
  • morphological
  • speaker

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science
  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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