On Lexicographical Translation in Bilingual Dictionaries and its Multi-disciplinary Theoretical Basis



Wei Xiangqing


Work Unit:

Bilingual Dictionary Research Centre of Nanjing University


Vol.1 No.1 (Serial No.1) 2007






Traditionally, in the field of bilingual lexicography, the main task for lexicographers is to provide lexical equivalents in bilingual dictionaries by all possible means. And accordingly, how to provide appropriate or satisfying translation equivalents in bilingual dictionaries is always the centre of attention in bilingual metalexicography. However, the history of bilingual lexicography shows that it has never been an easy task, because of linguistic and cultural anisomorphism. The usual compromise made by most lexicographers is to introduce partial or explanatory equivalents. This recourse means that most bilingual lexicographers, unfortunately, more than often, fail to meet the needs of foreign language learners. Certain misconceptions about the translation equivalents emerge among the language learners, which explains the awkward situation that besets bilingual lexicographers. The present contribution aims at perceiving lexicographical translation as a dynamic process by which an adequate semantic system in the target language would be set up to serve as a functionally equivalent defining system. By doing this, bilingual lexicographers should establish a powerful target language semantic network, in which lexicographical sections like verbal illustrations, usage notes and etymologies, etc. would be considered together with the translation equivalents as an integrated whole. This is an attempt to describe the essential features of lexicographical translation and its multi-disciplinary theoretical basis, in the hope that future practice in bilingual lexicography might be improved.

Key Words:

bilingual dictionaries, lexicographical translation, multi-disciplinary theoretical basis




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