Skip to 0 minutes and 17 secondsSo, there's three OPP, SYM and AWL. So OPP what do you think? That is 'opposite', so maybe it is about antonym. Antonym, yeah, probably. Antonym and this is a 'synonym'. Yeah this is a 'synonym'. This is, let me guess, its 'academic word list', what do you think? Yeah 'academic word list'. That should be that. Well I can guess two out of three. The first one is 'opposite', the second one is 'synonyms', the third one I can only have a wild guess like 'academic writing learner'. Well this is quite interesting because the first one OPP might mean 'opposite' but a more formal dictionary might say 'antonym' so perhaps that’s because it’s a learners dictionary.

Skip to 0 minutes and 58 secondsSYN I guess means 'synonym' which has a similar meaning. AWL I guess is 'academic word list' which means its an academic word.

Why can't dictionaries just tell us what a word means?

Watch the video in which dictionary users try to explain the meaning of some of the information commonly found in dictionary entries.

How successful were they?

Dictionaries vary in the amount of information they provide about grammar and pronunciation. Some use abbreviations and codes to indicate a part of speech and grammar patterns and most use a form of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) to show how words are pronounced.

In the video clips, it was clear that some people could interpret this information quite easily, while others couldn’t understand it at all.

Your task

Should we make the effort to learn the coding systems used by the dictionaries we refer to or is this no longer necessary since most dictionaries we use now are in digital form?

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This video is from the free online course:

Understanding English Dictionaries

Coventry University