Committing blasphemy: A polemic against the Holy Book of lexicographers




integrationist linguistics, dictionary, lexicography, meaning, words, Roy Harris


Despite the profane wordings in the title above, this paper will be a civilized and academic inquest into the sacrosanct “compendium” the world has come to venerate. Touted by the lexicographer as the panacea to every linguistic worry, the dictionary has indeed become a source of reference and reverence from essentially every walk of life. This essay on the other hand, will be in direct contention with deeply and erroneously held views by laymen and linguists alike, holding the purpose of interrogating and deconstructing said views through an integrationist lens. Integrationist linguistics, or Integrationism, calls to the stand the institutionalized and so-called “correct” Linguistics we know today, and terms it “Segregationist linguistics” for its wrongful view of language existing as an independent entity. Integrationism, on the other hand, acknowledges and supports the integration of language and meaningful human activity.

In the specific context of the dictionary, the essay will uncover three major myths continually espoused by the lexicographer. The first of these is a misinformed veneration of history through etymology. We will then move into contradictory objectives such as increasing, not reducing, semantic indeterminacy accomplished through glossing the many pages of the book. The final key issue lies in the unrealistic attempt to impose upon readers one-size-fits-all definitions which are just about all devoid of contextualization, and in many cases hold no relevance whatsoever to the experience of the person consulting the book. Carrying the aim of resolving these gaping holes, this paper will also shed light on the way forward in approaching the dictionary and the place it holds within the realm of language.


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Modern Lexicography