Diglossic past and present lexicographical practices
The case of two Greek dictionaries
The publication of a dictionary is a means to describe, codify and ultimately standardise a language. This process is complicated by the lexicographer’s own attitude towards the language and the public’s sensitivity on language matters. The recent publication of the two most authoritative dictionaries of Modern Greek and their respective lexical coverage reveals the continuing survival of the underlying ideologies of the two sponsoring institutions concerning the history of the Greek language, as well as their opposing standpoints on the language question over the past decades, some 25 years after the constitutional resolution of the Greek diglossia, affecting the way they describe the synchronic state of language. The two dictionaries proceed from opposing starting points in attempting to influence and set a pace for the standardisation of Modern Greek by presenting two different aspects of the synchronic state of Greek, one of which focuses on the long history of the language and thus takes the present state to be only a link in an uninterrupted chain dating from antiquity, and the other of which focuses on the present state of Greek and thus takes this fully developed autonomous code to be the outcome of past linguistic processes and socio-cultural changes in response to the linguistic community’s present needs. The absence of a sufficiently representative corpus has restrained the descriptive capacity of the two dictionaries and has given space for ideology to come into play, despite the fact that both dictionaries have made concessions in order to account for the present-day Greek language.
Published online: 06 December 2002
Cited by 2 other publications
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