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Reference Skills or Human-Centered Design: Towards a New Lexicographical Culture

Aktivitet: Tale eller præsentation - typerForedrag og mundtlige bidrag

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Sven Tarp - Foredragsholder

Rufus Gouws - Foredragsholder

This paper is based on an article written by Tarp and Gouws (2020). It deals with the design of digital lexicographical products. The paper will contrast the traditional claim for users’ reference skills with the philosophy of human-centered design, as explained in the work of the American engineer and cognitive scientist Don Norman (2013).
The notion of reference skills should be seen from a historical perspective. Haus-mann (1989) observes that the history of lexicography shows a strained relationship between the discipline and society. According to him, the terms dictionary culture and user-friendliness are used to describe this friction. User-friendliness implies that lexicography adapts to society whereas dictionary culture means that society adapts to lexicography. User-friendliness prevails when dictionaries are made from which the intended target users can retrieve the kind of lexicographical information they require. By contrast, a dictionary culture prevails when lexicographers know the target users have acquired the necessary reference skills to successfully consult their dictionaries.
The conflict described by Hausmann implies a complementary relation where users have to complement the efforts of the lexicographers to ensure successful dictionary usage. The lexicographers make the dictionaries, and the users have the responsibility to enable themselves to find and retrieve the required informa¬tion from the condensed and often strongly codified items. From this perspective, the successful use of traditional dictionaries often relied on the envisaged target user group’s presumed reference skills. Especially in printed dictionaries with their space restrictions, lexicographers used condensed entries, abbreviations, and different types of structural indicators to save space. This often was to the detriment of the users who strug¬gled to retrieve the required information from the data on offer.
The digital environment has cre¬ated new opportunities for lexicographers to assist their users in a far better way. The digital techniques, when fully and intelligently applied, make allowance for intuitive use (Rundell 2015) and contextualized data presentation (Tarp and Gouws 2019) while, at the same time, avoiding information overload (Gouws and Tarp 2017). Using principles of human-centered design as outlined by Norman (2013), the paper will discuss the application of some of these approaches in existing digital lexicographical products. It will explain central design concepts like affordances, signifiers, feedback, and other forms of good communica¬tion from lexicographer to user. The paper will illustrate these concepts with examples taken not only from “traditional” online dictionar¬ies, but also from integrated e-reading dictionaries as well as lexicography-assisted writing assistants and learning apps (see Bothma and Prinsloo 2013, Tarp et al. 2017, Bothma and Gouws 2020, Huang and Tarp 2021).
Where the original concept of a dictionary culture was primarily based on the reference skills of the user, the paper will suggest a new lexicographical culture that adheres to human-centered design principles. In this culture, it is the lexicographers' sole respon¬sibility that their products can be used successfully by the target group. No special reference skills should be required. All this implies that the lexicographical products can be used intuitively by their users. In this respect, the concept of intuitive use is considered to be even more advanced than that of traditional user-friendliness.
It goes without saying that the new lexicographical culture places more responsibility on the shoulders of lexicogra¬phers in terms of needs detection as well as data preparation and presentation. As recommended by Norman (2013), lexicographers should refine their observational skills to detect real user needs as well as user behavior, as users themselves may not be aware of their needs.

Bothma, T.J.D. and D.J. Prinsloo. 2013. Automated Dictionary Consultation for Text Reception: a Critical Evaluation of Lexicographic Guidance in Linked Kindle e-Dictionaries. Lexikographica 29(1): 165-198.
Bothma, T.J.D. and R.H. Gouws. 2020. e-Dictionaries in a Network of Information Tools in the e-Environment. Lexikos 30: 29-56.
Gouws, R.H. and S. Tarp. 2017. Information Overload and Data Overload in Lexicography. Inter¬national Journal of Lexicography 30(4): 389-415.
Hausmann, F.J. 1989: Die gesellschaftlichen Aufgaben der Lexikographie in Geschichte und Gegen¬wart. Hausmann et al. (Eds.). 1989: 1-19.
Huang, F. and S. Tarp. 2021. Dictionaries Integrated into English Learning Apps. Critical Comments and Suggestions for Improvement. Lexikos 31 (to appear).
Norman, D. 2013. The Design of Everyday Things. New York: Basic Books.
Rundell, M. 2015. Review Article: Shigeru Yamada. Oxford Guide to the Practical Usage of Eng¬lish Monolingual Learners' Dictionaries: Effective Ways of Teaching Dictionary Use in the English Class. Kernerman Dictionary News 23: 26-27.
Tarp, S., K. Fisker and P. Sepstrup. 2017. L2 Writing Assistants and Context-Aware Dictionaries: New Challenges to Lexicography. Lexikos 27: 494-521.
Tarp, S. and R.H. Gouws. 2019. Lexicographical Contextualization and Personalization: A New Perspective. Lexikos 29: 250-268.
Tarp, S. and R.H. Gouws. 2020: Reference Skills or Human-Centered Design: Towards a New Lexicographical Culture. Lexikos 30: 1-19.
29 jun. 2021

Begivenhed (Konference)

Titel25th International Conference of the African Association for Lexicography
AfholdelsesstedStellenbosch University
Grad af anerkendelseInternational begivenhed

ID: 216237230