Towards a comprehensive dictionary culture in the digital era

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Following a brief introduction this paper offers a discussion of certain aspects of the development of theoretical lexicography. Specific attention is drawn to among others different phases in this development, provision that has to be made for the use of different lexicographic tools and also the user-perspective. The main focus of this contribution is on the development of a comprehensive dictionary culture that unites the traditional division between user-friendliness and dictionary culture in one encompassing comprehensive dictionary culture. A bidirectional relation between society and lexicography is discussed and it is indicated that certain adaptations need to be made in order to improve the comprehensive dictionary culture. This includes both lexicographic and extra-lexicographic adaptations. The distinction between a collective and an individual comprehensive dictionary culture is discussed and it is suggested that dictionary culture should not be a separate main component of dictionary research but should rather be integrated into all four existing main components. Many potential dictionary users within the digital era belong to Generation Z. Some features of this generation are briefly discussed. The need is indicated for an adaptation in lexicography that could motivate this generation to use dictionaries. It is argued that dictionary didactics should play an important role in establishing a comprehensive dictionary culture within Generation Z. This dictionary culture should also be directed at other reference sources.

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In the present paper we examine the question of whether dictionary reference skills can be taught effectively in the classroom. To this end, we test the reference skills of a group of Polish primary-school students attending English classes twice: prior to and following a 12-session specially-designed training program. Despite the subjects high confidence in their reference skills reported in the accompanying questionnaire, they performed rather poorly on the pre-test. Following a training program, the performance improves substantially and significantly more than in a matched control group. We conclude that a dictionary skills training program may be effective in teaching language learners at this level to use dictionaries more effectively, though different skills benefit to different degrees.