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Words, Words, Words: Lexicography for Students of English


Admission requirements

None, although basic knowledge of morphology and semantics may come in handy.


The aim of Words, Words, Words is to instill in its participants a fascination for and preferably even an obsession with words and dictionaries. English is a fascinating starting-point for the study of lexicography: according to the Guinness Book of Records it has the largest vocabulary of all languages (this claim in itself is food for thought: Is it true? Who did the counting? How did they count?). In the first part of this course we will study English words from different angles. We will explore the vocabulary of different user and use varieties of English and discover how geography, but also age, gender, ethnicity and style define our vocabulary. We will also make brief forays into pronunciation and spelling. And we will travel back in history and forward into the future to see how time affects the meaning of words. In the second half of the course, we will focus on how words are recorded in dictionaries. What kinds of dictionaries exist? How are dictionaries made? Who decides which words are entered in a dictionary? How does one explain words? Throughout the course, you will be expected to embark on small projects and to report on your findings in tutorial.
The course instructor is active in the field of legal lexicography and will be preparing the publication of a bilingual legal terminology. You may be invited to participate in the preparation of this publication, although you will be welcome to pursue your own lexicographical interests.

Course objectives

  • Knowledge and understanding of the many different ways in which words are studied.

  • Knowledge of and be able to identify and evaluate research in the different areas of lexicography and to discuss findings in appropriate terminology.

  • Practical experience with lexicographical work.

  • Further improvement of students’ oral and written proficiency in English.h3. Timetable

Time and date on which the course is offered or a link to the website. The administration will complete this with the link to the website.

Mode of instruction

One 90-minute tutorial per week.

Course Load

The total course load is 280 hours (10 EC), allocated as follows:

  • Tutorial attendance: 26 hours.

  • Study of literature: 94 hours.

  • Preparation and discussion of assignments and short presentations, including the preparation of a small-scale dictionary: 160 hours.

Assessment method

  • Class participation and mini-presentations and short writing assignments (40%)

  • Final paper (small-scale specialized dictionary with critical introduction) (60%)
    To pass the course, you need to have handed in electronic copies of all assignments in Blackboard before each tutorial.
    You can rewrite any written assignments for which you have not received a pass. If you fall the class participation and oral-presentation requirement, you will be asked to sit an oral exam during the resit period. To pass the course you need to obtain a 6.0 pass for both course components.


In this course, Blackboard is used to present course information, notify you of changes to the course and to make course materials available.

Reading list

  • Course book to be announced.

  • Words, words, words: Lexicography for students of English: Folder with background reading, available for inspection at the English Department.