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Lexicography, discourse and power

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Abstract

This paper conceptualizes dictionary bilingualization as a recontextualizing practice and explores how ideology and power play out in the recontextualization of lexicographic discourse across languages and cultures to result in the transformation of meaning. It first proposes viewing the (bilingualized) dictionary as discourse and emphasizes bilingual lexicography as a site of an asymmetrical linguistic and cultural power dynamics. The paper then argues that a synergy of critical discourse analysis and postcolonial studies can reveal the inter-cultural ideological struggle implicit in the bilingualizing lexicographic practice. The body of the study is devoted to the analysis of those shifts taking place in the entries, definition, illustrative examples and pragmatic labels in a bilingualized English-Chinese dictionary, which, when viewed cumulatively, significantly reshape the ideological positioning of the dictionary. The paper discusses the implications for critical lexicographic studies and for research into the interplay between power and resistance between dominating and dominated cultures. It concludes that Periphery English dictionary compilers are able to negotiate the different subjectivities and ideologies inherent in dictionary making and to adopt a subject position favorable to their empowerment in the international English lexicography, although such resistance is far from capable of restructuring the order of lexicography.
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Keywords: critical lexicography; dictionary bilingualization; ideology; lexicography; power; resistance

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 19, 2018

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