The Effect of Lexicographical Information Costs on Dictionary Making and Use

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An important aspect for any lexicographer to consider is the ease with which users will be able to acquire the necessary information from the data presented in the dictionary, whether electronic or printed. Furthermore, this aspect has high priority with users and reviewers. A dis­tinction is proposed between two general types of lexicographical information costs. Firstly, search-related costs are the efforts required by the look-up activities users have to perform when con­sulting a dictionary to find access to the data they are searching for. It is argued that the access route, article structure, data distribution and cross-references may influence search-related infor­mation costs positively as well as negatively. Secondly, comprehension-related costs are the efforts connected to the user's ability to understand and interpret the data presented in a dictionary. In other words: How easy or difficult is it for users to understand the data presented? Examples show how textual condensation, dictionary functions and use-situations may impact on the level of comprehension-related information costs. It is thus possible to establish a framework for evaluating lexicographical information costs for the purpose of dictionary making, use, analysis and research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)170-189
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • Lexicography
  • Information costs
  • Dictionaries
  • Access routes
  • Dictionary articles
  • Dictionary functions


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