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Over recent years an interesting and fruitful connection has been built up between the Hornby Trust and EURALEX. Tony Cowie explains how the relationship has developed

 

Over recent years, the Hornby Trust and EURALEX have built up an interesting and fruitful connection. Tony Cowie explains how the relationship has developed

 

In 1983, when the European Association for Lexicography (EURALEX) came into existence, a good deal of interest was already being shown in the academic study of lexicography in various centres throughout the world. However, the meetings at which these matters were discussed were often single events rather than conference series, or were focused on a single language or theme. Moreover, not all resulted in a published book.

 

The International Conference on Lexicography at Exeter University, from which EURALEX developed, was strikingly different from many of these events. It attracted 270 participants, of whom 55 were speakers, and was notable for the range of topics it addressed. As the organiser of the conference, Reinhard Hartmann, pointed out: "The chief merit of the papers lay in the bringing together of all the major issues facing dictionary compilers and users today". There was enthusiastic support among the participants for the creation of a European Association for Lexicography, and this enthusiasm was not short-lived – EURALEX congresses of a similar scale and diversity, staged in different European cities, have followed at two-yearly intervals.

 

One of the most prominent groupings of papers offered at Exeter concerned monolingual learners’ dictionaries (or MLDs). This was a significant category, partly because foreign learners, worldwide, constitute an enormous market, and partly because many teachers and advanced-level students are convinced that properly designed MLDs have much to contribute to the improvement of their competence in English. This awareness was of course shared by many EURALEX members, who knew of the unique role played by Hornby in the development of the learner’s dictionary.

 

It was with the aim of deepening this understanding, and stimulating discussion of issues in learner lexicography more widely, that the Trust decided in 1998 to establish a Hornby Lecture, the first of which coincided with the hundredth anniversary of Hornby's birth. This launch was further marked by the publication of a special centenary article in the conference proceedings, describing his life and achievements.

Of the seven Hornby lectures to date, five have been within the broad field of learner lexicography and, of these, three have dealt with the achievements of Hornby himself.

 

Titles have included:

•Monolingual Learners’ Dictionaries of French as a Mother Tongue (Jean Pruvost)

•Phraseology, the Hornby Legacy (Tony Cowie)

•Lexical Patterns: from Hornby to Hunston and Beyond (Patrick Hanks)

•Dictionaries and Second Language Acquisition (Paul Bogaards)

 

Professor Tony Cowie, Lexicographer, University of Leeds

 

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