Maximizing dictionary

A dictionary is maximizing if it attempts to include as many words as possible from a particular speech community. An example of a maximizing dictionary (also spelled maximising dictionary) is the Oxford English Dictionary, as it attempts to lemmatise (i.e. show as entry words) as many words as possible. This is one way in which to classify dictionaries based on the number of entry words they contain and give information about, i.e. their coverage.

The distinction between a maximizing dictionary and a minimizing dictionary is also important in connection with specialized dictionaries. A law dictionary that contains more than 20000 entry words is a maximizing dictionary, as it attempts to include nearly all legal terms. This should be contrasted with a law dictionary that contains 2000 words, which is a minimizing in that it cannot reasonably be claimed to cover more than a limited number of legal terms.

Relevant literature

*Sandro Nielsen: "Contrastive Description of Dictionaries Covering LSP Communication", in: "Fachsprache/International Journal of LSP 3-4/1990", 129-136


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