BC-- Philology; Languages and Linguistics

Lexikon der Sprachwissenschaft [Dictionary of Linguistics]. Ed. Hadumod Bussmann. 3d updated and rev. ed. Stuttgart: Kröner, 2002. 783 p. ill. 22 cm. (1st and 2d ed. published as Kröner Taschenausgabe, 452). ISBN 3-520-45203-0: EUR 29.00 [02-2-288]

The first edition of this reference book appeared in 1983 as a single author work. The second, completely revised edition, with many more contributors, appeared in 1990 and was translated into English in 1996. The third edition has undergone significant changes: new entries have been added, others have been expanded and updated, while some entries appear to have remained unchanged. Bibliographic information has been consistently augmented and updated. The index of English terms has been retained, while the language maps have been dropped without convincing reason. This remains the leading German- language dictionary of linguistics and belongs in all library reference collections. It should also be on the desks of subject specialists. [sh/rs]

Dictionnaire d’analyse du discours [Dictionary of Discourse Analysis]. Ed. Patrick Charaudeau and Dominique Maingueneau. Paris: Seuil, 2002. 662 p. 22 cm. ISBN 2-02-037845-0: EUR 30.00

An RREO Original Review

The aim of this dictionary [DAD] is to serve as a reference source for those working with the vocabulary of discourse analysis and, in so doing, to chart the boundaries of what is, according to the editors, a new field of study. Whether discourse analysis constitutes a new discipline or merely a new approach to the study of language and meaning that draws on already well established disciplines such as rhetoric, literary theory, linguistics, philology, and philosophy, remains to be seen; yet there is no question that the publication of this dictionary as an attempt at a definition is a laudable undertaking.

Unfortunately, this one-volume, trade paperback of 662 pages is not quite up to the task. Indeed, the interdisciplinary and rather encompassing definition of discourse analysis put forth in the introduction would have supposed an equally extensive treatment of the subject in the body of the work. Yet, this is not the case. Although entries are signed and generally of good quality, the overall scope of coverage is deficient.

First of all, there are no entries for persons. While the inclusion of descriptive, summarizing entries for seminal thinkers in the field is not essential—as theoretical concepts may be treated without articles on their introducers—the dictionary also lacks entries for some major critical concepts. For example, there is no entry for hétéroglossie despite the importance of Bakhtin’s thought for discourse analysis. One does find an article on “Hétérogénéité montrée / constitutive” which briefly mentions his name and refers to the entry on “Dialogisme,” yet Bakhtin’s theory is never thoroughly treated. This is surprising, especially given the revival of his work in the United States and Western Europe in the latter half of the 20th century and its widespread implications for discourse analysis. More surprising is that students will not find definitions for even such crucial French terms as différance or épistémè. While the latter is treated in an article on “Archéologie,” the lack of an index or of an entry referring to that article presupposes knowledge of Foucault’s theory. Students searching for explanations of the terms différance or déconstruction will have to use another dictionary.

This brings us to the second main complaint, which is that of general editorial sloppiness or insufficiency. While one would think that an alphabetically arranged dictionary would not need an index, the lack of entries for individual thinkers or schools of thought, combined with the lack of an index, renders it particularly difficult for a newcomer (of which there are, supposedly, many in a new discipline) to find his or her way. The global approach taken by the editors of treating only general concepts and explaining the vocabulary within larger articles (such as the treatment of épistémè in the article on “Archéologie”) is not in itself flawed; but without an index or cross-references which would permit the tracking of specific terms to their school of thought, the utility of the dictionary is severely limited.

The charge of editorial inadequacy is further compounded by the editors’ choice of including only one all-encompassing bibliography at the end of the volume. Although the bibliography is of good quality, it does not provide subject access. The mere alphabetical arrangement does not provide the reader with any information on which texts to choose for further reading on a particular topic. It would have been preferable to place a short list of titles at the end of each entry, which still would have allowed the editors to include a general bibliography covering the entire scope of discourse analysis and to provide an overview of relevant texts.

Nevertheless, the publication of the DAD, despite its limitations, is a welcome event. The articles are of high quality and do provide a valuable introduction to the field. By focusing on French thinkers, many largely unknown this side of the Atlantic, the dictionary fulfills its role of providing an introduction to discourse analysis as conceived of in France. Unfortunately, the academic purpose of this dictionary is contradicted by its editorial shortcomings and its failure to include descriptions of key terms. While the latter may be explained by the editors’ more general approach to the field, the lack of cross-references, index, and subject access to the bibliography, do severely limit the usefulness of the dictionary. Since this is a unique resource, it is recommended for large research institutions, though it will probably find more use as a circulating copy, rather than on the reference shelf. Other institutions might want to wait until the Dictionnaire International des Termes Littéraires = International Dictionary of Literary Terms (http://www.ditl.info/index.php) is more developed.

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Last update: March 6, 2006 [BG]
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