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Fact vs opinion

“That dictionaries engage with the truth is a commonplace in the history of lexicography.” So says Lynda Mugglestone in her book Dictionaries: A Very Short Introduction (p 93). It may …

Definitions: try it yourself

We would like you to write definitions for four common words. You will have tried this before during Week 3 (Step 3.10), but by now you will have a better …

The content of definitions

The two previous steps showed that there are many different ways of writing a definition. And as we saw in Week 2 (Steps 2.6 and 2.7), sometimes an image is …

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 …

Mapping meaning to usage

In this video, Michael Rundell interviews Patrick Hanks, a corpus linguist and lexicographer with a long and distinguished record. Watch the video interview which is approximately five minutes in length. …

Why ‘disinterested’ is never confusing

The usage website Daily Writing Tips says: ‘The constant misuse of ‘disinterested’ for ‘uninterested’ is breaking down a very useful distinction of meaning’. Traditionally, the adjective ‘disinterested’ describes someone who …

Looking for clues to identify meanings

Using the same corpus data as in the previous step, now we would like you to identify those clues in the context (syntactic, collocational, etc.) which led you to associate …

Introspection vs objective evidence: corpus data

We would now like you to compare your ‘introspective’ findings about the word ‘party’ with some corpus evidence. Your task Compare the facts about ‘party’, which you assembled through pure …

Introspection vs objective evidence

Introspection simply means thinking about what you know about a word. It involves consulting your own ‘mental lexicon’ – the information about words and language which is stored in your …

Dictionary versus the real world

In this exercise, we’re asking you to compare the way a dictionary describes the meanings of a word, and the way the word is used in normal communication. For this …

Introduction to Week 5

This week is all about meanings and definitions, which many people see as the main function of a dictionary. If we think about it at all, most of us probably …

Taking action

Have a look at the latest words in the Macmillan Open Dictionary. This is a crowdsourced dictionary, to which you can submit a new word, a new phrase or idiom, …

Coming in … and going out …

This Oxford Lexico article and this article from Merriam-Webster both explain how difficult it is to answer the question: how many words are there in the English language? One reason …

What you have learned so far

This week you have learned that: Not all the words in the English language are recorded in dictionaries New words (and new meanings for old words) come into the language …