Report on Spanish Lexicography: New Issues

Las Rosadas

Francisco A. Marcos-Marín

Universidad Autónoma de Madrid


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Copyright note: This is an internal interactive report written for the Workgroup for Lexicography of the Thematic Network Project in the area of Languages, European Language Council. Its reproduction outside the TNP/ELC or its publication without the written permission of the author are not allowed. Hyperlinks, however, are accepted.


WHEN you look for LEXICOGRAFÍA (which of course means Lexicography) in the Spanish ISBN (available for titles published in Spain after 1972), you find 180 references. The titles included are written in any of the four languages of Spain (Castilian Spanish, Catalan, Galician, Basque). Most of them are actually written in Castilian Spanish, but there is an increasing number in Catalan. From the point of view of content there exist differences as well: theoretical treatises tend to be written in Spanish, whilst dictionaries are also written in the other languages of Spain. Terminological vocabularies are frequently written in Catalan, there are dictionaries of images (for pedagogical purposes) in any of the four languages. However, do not forget that the domain of the Spanish language is very large, and you must add titles published in the Spanish speaking countries (including, for that purpose, the United States), and in other countries, written by hispanists. Electronic publications and on-line services in the field of Lexicography exist only in Spain, for Castilian Spanish, for the moment.


It is not the purpose of this report to deploy the history of Spanish Lexicography, from the medieval Glossaries (10. and 11. c. AD) to the modern dictionaries starting at the end of the fifteenth century. Transcriptions and full digital facsimile reproductions of those dictionaries, namely Alonso de Palencia's Universal Vocabulario and Aelio Antonio de Nebrija dictionaries (Hispano-latino and Latino-hispanicum, can be consulted in the CD-ROM I of the ADMYTE series (Archivo Digital de Manuscritos y Textos Españoles, Madrid: Micronet, 1992; a pk-zipped .exe file with a demo of ADMYTE can be obtained by anonymous ftp to my personal page, or from Micronet, pressing the key (Línea Multimedia) on the screen). It has to be understood, however, that until very recent times, Spanish Lexicography followed the Illustration patterns, as represented by the six volumes of the Diccionario de Autoridades issued by the Real Academia Española (1726-1739) and later reduced to the single volume of the Diccionario de la Lengua Castellana that became in the 20th c. the Diccionario de la Lengua Española, the normative dictionary for Spanish. Moreover, the Academy's Diccionario is since 1956 the coincident dictionary of all the Academies of the Spanish Language and there are Academies of the Languages in all Spanish Speaking Countries, the Philippines and the United States. The Comisión Permanente de las Academias de la Lengua Española coordinates the job of the different academies and commissions inside them.

Günther Haensch, emeritus Professor of Applied Linguistic (Romanistic) at the Augsburg Universität, has published an unmatched panorama of Spanish Lexicography, with special attention to the language in America: Los diccionarios del español en el umbral del siglo XXI, Salamanca: Ediciones de la Universidad, 1997. There he studies the typology of lexicographic works, the general dictionaries (monolingual and bilingual), the dictionaries of Spanish in America. He makes a sound criticism of existing dictionaries (considerate though), and lists the most important metalexicographic publications. All of it is preceded by a concise introduction to Lexicograpy.

The existence of that most useful book allows me to list only a few types of references: a short amount of titles representing a special improvement or addition to Haensch's work, titles referring to the teaching of Lexicography, electronic publications (not studied by Haensch), and on-line resources.

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