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By Philippe Humblé

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This makes the search cumbersome, and the results doubtful. Moreover, since it appears that, paradoxically, learner’s dictionaries place no priority on syntax or collocates information they are not the ideal tools for encoding or decoding. 3. B ILINGUAL D ICTIONARIES So far, bilingual dictionaries do not appear to be flexible enough to meet the current encoding needs. There is surprisingly little difference between present-day and 17th century bilingual dictionaries. It is true that 17th century dictionaries were astonishingly good, and until recently there was not much reason for change.

Do they know what an ‘idiom’ is? Do they really, as Béjoint claims, look for ‘syntactic information’ in more than half of the cases, or is this what they think they do … or remember they did? Do they know what ‘syntactic information’ is at all? , synonyms but remember idioms as something special? Second, the use of questionnaires assumes that subjects are being honest. In a simple questionnaire I personally devised some years ago, I required the subjects to write down the name of their dictionary without looking at it.

This partly explains the tentative nature of many of the findings, which frequently have the status of ‘informed opinion’ rather than valid generalisation. (…) (tests) are more difficult to devise and possibly therefore rarer… Even more complex techniques like controlled experiments have not been used at all. (Hartmann, 1987:27) In my view, questionnaires are to be used with caution for two reasons. First, one assumes the subjects have a knowledge of linguistic concepts and a lexicographic awareness which I think they generally lack.

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Dictionaries and Language Learners by Philippe Humblé

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