(Blended) Ideologies in ‘User-Friendly’ Web Lexicography
Free electronic dictionaries as well as online versions of official dictionaries
provide an easy-access, user-friendly lexical source available for immediate use.
In addition to this, they cover a multi-scope range of functions from trivial language
support tools (e.g. online phonetics resources, meaning retrieval, word simple translation
in main languages ) to more sophisticated uses (i.e. hypertextual semantic expansion)
that may eventually add heuristic value to the search. As a matter of fact, online
dictionaries represent the most widely used form of lexical reference source.
One of the typical features of dictionaries in web forms is the restricted number
of lexical entries and the limited availability of definitions compared to the official
paper versions. This entails imposed selections at both semantic and lexical levels
which intertextual expansions provided only by nodes in the hypertextual modality
can sometimes partially replace.
Clearly, such text-type constraints hide ideological significance expressed in
value systems and associated assumptions at lexicographic level.
The ideological work of language is a form of hegemony implemented through the
universalization of particular meanings in the service of achieving and maintaining
Referring to Fairclough (2003), I will draw from the notions of ‘logical implications’
and ‘assumed meanings’: the former are implicit meanings which can be logically
inferred from features of language (presuppositions on what is assumed to be known
or believed); the latter are non-standard implicatures about the strategic avoidance
This paper intends to investigate the ideological use of implicatures and assumptions
underlying online dictionary prescriptivism (i.e. lexical and semantic). Moreover,
the meaning-relations implicitly represented in the lexical chains as resulting
from the application of a selection paradigm (foregrounding/backgrounding) will
be considered. In this phase, the focus of attention will also be addressed to the
analysis of the relation between lexical meanings and usage definitions. Finally,
the conceptual blending theory will be used as fundamental analytical tool for the
retrieving of ideological meanings implied in the selection of related NPs. Thus
forms of semantic compositionality emerging from the blending will be discussed
as the output of pervasive enacted ideologies.
Fairclough, Norman 2003. Analysing Discourse. London: Routledge.