We all know that for all the students and users of language, dictionaries are very important. In a dictionary, you will get the details like the meaning, pronunciation, and usage of words. Not only that one can improve his vocabulary and knowledge of a language through a dictionary. Though lexicographers and language professionals put a lot of effort to make sure that it is accurate, still there can be errors in a dictionary.
A very popular error in a dictionary is a spelling error. This may occur for various reasons like typographical mistakes at the time of the editing procedure, misinterpretations of the selling of a term, or the addition of words that are not widely utilized till now or approved in the language.
For instance, the first version of Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language, printed in 1755 was full of speaking mistakes like “drowzy” in place of “drowsy,” “jorney” in place of “journey,” and “soop” in place of “soup.” These mistakes were rectified in the following versions. But the question arises how does a highly respected and crucial dictionary contain mistakes?
Another instance of a spelling error in a dictionary is the addition of the word “dord” in Webster’s New International Dictionary, Second Edition, published in 1934. The word was enlisted as a noun the meaning of which is “density,” but later it was found that it was the outcome of a typographical mistake. It should be typed as “D or d,” to indicate that “density” can be shortened as either “D” or “d.” The mistake was rectified in the following editions of the dictionary but still, we remember it as an instance of a spelling error in a dictionary.
Sometimes spelling errors are made in dictionaries deliberately. For instance, slang or dialect terms are sometimes knowingly typed in a nonstandard means to indicate their articulation or to express a specific sound or sentiment. In such cases, it is not considered as an error. It is nothing but a conscious choice of the lexicographer or language professional.
All around, it is true that spelling mistakes can happen in dictionaries and they are very rarely found and they are generally specified in the following editions. Dictionaries are always a very important resource for language students as well as users. It helps an individual to enhance his knowledge as well as an understanding of a language.
Though spelling mistakes are very rare in dictionaries there might be other errors in a dictionary. For instance, the entry in a dictionary may have a wrong, old, or incomplete definition. This may occur in case the lexicographer does not know the latest usage or the meaning of the term. It may also happen when the language professionals can not decide the meaning of the word and they all have different opinions.
Moreover, there might be some words in the dictionaries that are not generally used or approximately in the language. Such words might be slang, neologisms, or jargon. Sometimes these words are added in dictionaries to document their usage and assist the language students to learn the meaning of them. But in case the word is not commonly used or approved it might be counted as a mistake by the dictionary.
Other errors in dictionaries are the articulation of words. As the dictionaries generally contain a phonetic transcription of a term to denote the pronunciation of that term there may be differences in the way a word is articulated as per the area or language of the speaker. Sometimes the phonetic transcription does not properly show the way a term is articulated in a specific language or area and for this reason compilation or misinterpretations occur.
Though there might be mistakes, dictionaries are still considered a very important instrument for language students and users. You may get a plethora of information on the meaning, articulation, and usage of words.
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