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This content is taken from the Coventry University, The Alan Turing Institute & Macmillan Education's online course, Understanding English Dictionaries. Join the course to learn more.

A summary of the week so far

So far this week we have looked at the way meanings in the real world relate to the numbered ‘senses’ in a dictionary.

Your task

Look at the slides, available as a PDF in the downloads section below, and discuss what you understand about the ‘rationalist’and ‘empiricist’ approaches to understanding meaning. Which approach is more familiar to you?

The slides show two different senses for the verb ‘treat’ in macmillandictionary.com. Compare these with the entry for ‘treat’ in another dictionary - perhaps the one you use most often.

  • How many senses are listed?
  • Are they clearly distinguished?
  • Do you think the dictionary compilers drew on corpus evidence, in the way described in the slides?

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This article is from the free online course:

Understanding English Dictionaries

Coventry University