Dictionarization of Catalan Neologisms

by Judit Freixa (Volume editor) M. Isabel Guardiola (Volume editor) Josep Martines (Volume editor) M. Amor Montané (Volume editor)
Edited Collection 428 Pages


This book is concerned with the study of neologisms in Catalan, specifically with the description of their features. It is based on the results of the research project “Neologismes per a l’actualització del diccionari normatiu” (NADIC) (studying neologisms to update the standard Catalan dictionary), financed by Institut d’Estudis Catalans, and carried out by the Network of Catalan Language Neology Observatories between 2015 and 2017. The chapters are organised into four main sections, dealing with general aspects of neology with the inclusion into a dictionary of certain types of neologisms as well as specific case studies, and questions on language variation since lexicography plays a central role in the construction of the standard language.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the editors
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Index of contents
  • Foreword. Dictionarisation: To Be or Not to Be in the Dictionary (M. Teresa Cabré)
  • Presentation (Judit Freixa, M. Isabel Guardiola, Josep Martines, and M. Amor Montané)
  • The Dictionarisation of Neologisms: The NADIC as a Model (Judit Freixa)
  • Tendencies in Dictionarisation by Lexical Innovation Process (Ivan Solivellas)
  • The Dictionarisation of Neologisms in the Information and Knowledge Society: What are the Current Challenges? (Ona Domènech-Bagaria)
  • Analysis and Selection of Neologisms for DIEC1 (Carolina Santamaria Jordà)
  • The Dictionarisation of Neologisms Derived from Proper Nouns (Carolina Bastida and M. Amor Montané)
  • The Dictionarization of Old and New Idioms (Jordi Ginebra)
  • The Dictionarization of Interjections and Onomatopoeias (M. Isabel Guardiola)
  • Phonetic Aspects and Orthographic Repercussions of the Dictionarization of Loanwords (Joan Julià-Muné)
  • Dictionarisation and Morphological Variation: The Case of Neologisms Formed by Suffixation (Elisabet Llopart Saumell)
  • Invisible Neologisms: Category Change (Mercè Lorente Casafont)
  • The Locution de pa amb fonteta and other Similar Phraseological Units in Catalan: a Case of Syntagmatic and Semantic Neology (Josep Vicent Garcia Sebastià)
  • Borrowings at the table and in the dictionary: figatell, from Italy to Valencia via Majorca (?) (Josep Martines)
  • The Dictionarization of Blends: the Case of preqüela. An Approach According to the Theory of Conceptual Integration (Caterina Martínez)
  • Getting Informality into the Dictionary: Colloquial Neologisms (Elisenda Bernal and Martí Freixas)
  • The General Language Dictionary in Light of Advances: Specialised Neologisms (Rosa Estopà)
  • From Vernacularism to Neologism through Lexicographic Criteria (Maria Gené Gil)
  • General Bibliography
  • Index of Subjects
  • Index of Authors

←6 | 7→
M. Teresa Cabré
Institut d’Estudis Catalans

Foreword. Dictionarisation: To Be or Not to Be in the Dictionary

The title of the book in your hands puts us in a somewhat uncomfortable situation: Is dictionarisation in the dictionary? A simple search for the Catalan equivalent, diccionarització, in the Diccionari de la llengua catalana (DIEC, Dictionary of the Catalan Language) tells us that it is not. A more refined search to find out whether there is another word in DIEC starting with the search string diccionari does not return any results either. So, neither diccionarització, nor diccionaritzar (to dictionarise), nor diccionaritzable (dictionarisable) are in that dictionary. We must conclude, therefore, that if the criterion for detecting neologisms is their presence in a lexicographical corpus, then diccionarització is a neologism in Catalan, as are the other words in the diccionari family, because the whole family is based on the word diccionari (dictionary).

Does the fact that a word is not in the standard dictionary mean that it is incorrect? It is well-known that it does not; a standard dictionary cannot contain every word in a language, or even every correct word in a language, because the units have been purposefully selected.

A word formed canonically, following the lexical rules of a language is, without any doubt whatsoever, “a word of this language”, at least from the viewpoint of grammar. The number of possible grammatical words is infinite, and dictionaries cannot and should not include them all. Aside from dictionaries, the concepts of grammatical word, possible word, probable word and real word are at the heart of this digression. And, in relation to dictionaries, there are the concepts of dictionarised word, dictionarisable word, probably dictionarisable word, improbably dictionarisable word and word rejected by the dictionary. That is quite a list of different concepts!

A word is dictionarisable if it fulfils a series of criteria ensuring that it is not odd for it to be included in the dictionary. The condition of dictionarisability therefore depends on the fulfilment of certain criteria, as the reader of this book may know. All I am saying here is that, from an intuitive viewpoint, a word is dictionarisable when the speakers of a language are not surprised to find it in the dictionary. Does this mean that there are words that we would be surprised to find in a dictionary? Of course it does! But, if they are in it, they must be there for ←7 | 8→one reason or another. They have made it in, they have been dictionarised (they are in the dictionary), even though their characteristics may not make them dictionarisable, or may make them improbably dictionarisable.

And what about dictionarisation, and more specifically the Catalan equivalent, diccionarització? Let us start where we need to start: the lexical base and the word formation process. From the base of the Catalan word diccionari, a nominal one, the verb diccionaritzar has been formed by adding the suffix -itzar, which allows verbs to be formed from nouns and adjectives in that language. So, from the adjectival bases real, urbà, normal and regular, the verbs realitzar, urbanitzar, normalitzar and regularitzar have been constructed. And, from the nominal bases categoria, robot, motor, senyal and alfabet, the verbs categoritzar, robotitzar, motoritzar, senyalitzar and alfabetitzar have been constructed. But, if we semantically and syntactically analyse these constructed words, we find that there is none like diccionaritzar. Could we therefore say that it is a canonical word?

Let us now take a look at this another way, from a different perspective to the previous grammatical one. Let us take a look at the diccionari / dictionary family, this time in both Catalan and English, and from the viewpoint of whether or not each of its members expresses the necessary concepts. This criterion of expressive need is a pragmatic and sociolinguistic one. It is a criterion similar to the one used to justify a loanword entry, when, in a given language, there is no real denomination referring to a concept. In the case of diccionaritzar / to dictionarise, diccionarització / dictionarisation and diccionaritzable / dictionarisable, it is the theory of neology that demands that one should be able to say that a word enters a dictionary by using a single word and not an expression like “has entered the dictionary”, that the act of “being entered into a dictionary” can be nominalised, or that the possibility of a word entering a dictionary can be adjectivised, i.e., that it is diccionaritzable / dictionarisable. It is, therefore, neology as a field of study and work that has called for not just one word, but an entire family of words.

The project entitled Neologismes per a l’actualització del diccionari normatiu (NADIC, Neologisms for the Purpose of Updating the Standard Dictionary) proposes an analysis of dictionarisation as both a fact and a possibility or, without wishing it to be a play on words, an analysis of real dictionarisation in order to hypothesise on the possibilities of dictionarisation yet to be carried out. If a word that has yet to enter the dictionary, it may be dictionarisable provided it fulfils the conditions that many of the words already in it do.

←8 | 9→
Judit Freixa, M. Isabel Guardiola, Josep Martines, and M. Amor Montané


The dictionarisation of neologisms is an important topic for both neology and lexicography, and it is also the meeting point of these two linguistic disciplines whose object of work and study is the lexicon. What it is that makes neologisms suitable for inclusion in a monolingual general dictionary is a question to which no explicit answer has yet been given, because the complexity of the criteria that academies of language and lexicographical publishers apply is not made public. It has, however, been a line of research in the English-speaking world for many years, and authors like Barnhart (1985), Algeo (1993), Sheidlower (1995), Ishikawa (2006), and O’Donovan and O’Neill (2008) have levelled the ground and laid the foundations for research into the dictionarisation of neologisms.

This book is devoted to the study of the characteristics of neologisms, in particular those that make them more or less dictionarisable. It is based on the project entitled Neologismes per a l’actualització del diccionari normatiu (NADIC, Neologisms for the Purpose of Updating the Standard Dictionary), funded by the Scientific Secretariat of the Institut d’Estudis Catalans (IEC, Institute for Catalan Studies) and carried out by the researchers forming part of the Xarxa d’Observatoris de Neologia de la Llengua Catalana1 (NEOXOC, Network of Catalan-Language Neology Observatories) in the 2015/17 period. Judit Freixa, from the Neology Observatory at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF) in Barcelona, was the NADIC project director, and Josep Martines, from the Neology Group at the University of Alicante, was the project rapporteur for the IEC’s Philological Section. A list of the researchers involved in the project, and details of the objectives and results thereof, are available to consult on the project website.2

The aim of the NADIC project was to select the best 1,000 or so neologisms for the purpose of updating the standard dictionary of the Catalan language and, given the non-existence of explicit criteria for choosing them, to establish what criteria should be applied to the neologism selection process, and how.

←9 | 10→The corpus for the work was a set of 77,400 lexicographical neologisms gathered by the NEOXOC network from 2008 to 2016. This corpus is very diverse because the neologisms came from different types of text (press, magazines and audiovisual programmes) produced across the entire Catalan-speaking territory. Thus, within this corpus, very frequent units can be found alongside nonce words; very old units alongside very recent ones; and units formed by all the lexical innovation mechanisms available to the Catalan language.

We understand a ‘lexicographical neologism’ to be a documented unit in use that has not been included in reference dictionaries, which, for the Catalan neology observatories, are the Diccionari de la llengua catalana (DIEC, Dictionary of the Catalan Language) produced by the IEC, and the Gran diccionari de la llengua catalana (GDLC, Great Dictionary of the Catalan Language) produced by Enciclopèdia Catalana. The process followed to arrive at the final criteria proposal and the final selection of neologisms is described in the first chapter of this book, written by Judit Freixa.

* * *

The 16 chapters contained in this book are preceded by a foreword by M. Teresa Cabré, president of the IEC’s Philological Section and founder of the Neology Observatory at UPF, and they are organised into four thematic blocks. A further three texts can be found at the end of the book: the first contains the authors’ bios, the second a thematic index, and the third a general list of references.

In the first block, we find four works that are more general in nature than the other chapters in the book. The first one is by Judit Freixa, a neology and terminology specialist, tenured lecturer in the Department of Translation and Language Sciences at UPF, member of the Lèxic, terminologia, discurs especialitzat i enginyeria lingüística (IULATERM, Lexicon, Terminology, Specialised Discourse and Linguistic Engineering) group, and director of the Neology Observatory. In this chapter, she presents the process followed in the NADIC project and describes the criteria used to select the 1,000 or so neologisms for the purpose of updating the standard dictionary of the Catalan language, and explains the weighting applied to the criteria, and the results obtained. In the second chapter, Ivan Solivellas, a doctoral student at the UPF and member of the IULATERM group and the Neology Observatory, analyses the tendencies observed within the neologisms selected by the NADIC project, in particular from the viewpoint of formation mechanisms. In the third chapter, Ona Domènech-Bagaria, a neology and terminology specialist, lecturer in the Arts and Humanities Department at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC), and member of the IULATERM group and the Neology Observatory at UPF, situates us within the information and knowledge society in ←10 | 11→order to reflect on the lag between the ever faster pace of lexical innovation and the slow pace of lexicographical updating. Based on this situation, she reflects on what routes could be opened by new technologies to shorten that lag. Closing the first block is the chapter by Carolina Santamaria, a lexicography specialist and head of the Lexicography Offices of the IEC’s Philological Section. It is about the methodology followed for the analysis and selection of neologisms during the development of the first edition of the Diccionari de la llengua catalana (DIEC) produced by the IEC.

In the second block of chapters in this book, we find six works focusing on the dictionarisation of a particular type of neologism. Firstly, Carolina Bastida, a neology specialist, sociolinguist, and coordinator of the Research Group on Languages (GREL) at the Universitat d’Andorra, and M. Amor Montané, a terminology and neology specialist, researcher at the IEC, lecturer at the Universitat de Barcelona (UB) and UOC, and member of the IULATERM group and the Neology Observatory, focus on neologisms derived from proper nouns in order to formulate dictionarisation criteria based on morphological traits and semantic features. Then, Jordi Ginebra, a grammarian and lexicographer, and professor of Catalan Linguistics at the Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV), analyses the dictionarisation of old and new idioms, and contributes to the field with the concept of the units’ dictionarising strength, depending on the number of dictionarisation criteria they fulfil. The third chapter is by Maria Isabel Guardiola, a specialist in the history of Catalan lexicography in the Valencian Country, tenured lecturer in the Department of Catalan Studies at the Universitat d’Alacant (UA), and member of the Higher Institute of Cooperative Research-IVITRA (ISIC-IVITRA), the Interuniversity Institute of Valencian Philology (IIFV) and the Acadèmia Valenciana de la Llengua. In this work, the author analyses the dictionarisation of interjections and onomatopoeias, after presenting a classification of them based in particular on their proper or improper character. Then, the chapter by late Joan Julià-Munné, the former professor of Applied Phonetics in the Department of Catalan Studies and Communication at the Universitat de Lleida (UdL) who died suddenly while this book was in preparation, presents an analysis of the phonetic aspects of the dictionarisation of loanwords and its orthographic repercussions. The fifth chapter in this block is by Elisabet Llopart, a neology and terminology specialist, lecturer in the Department of Translation and Language Sciences, and member of the IULATERM group and the Neology Observatory at UPF. In this work, she focuses on lexical doublets in order to reflect on morphological variation and dictionarisation. Closing the second block of this book is the chapter by Mercè Lorente, a tenured lecturer in terminology and linguistics in the Department of ←11 | 12→Translation and Language Sciences at UPF, full member of the IEC, principal investigator in the IULATERM group, and member of the Neology Observatory. She analyses invisible neologisms, those formed by processes that do not attach any affix: conversion, lexicalisation, abbreviation and syntactic change.

The third block of this book comprises three chapters that, instead of being centred around large datasets, present case studies. In the first one, Josep Vicent Garcia Sebastià, a specialist in cognitivist-oriented diachronic linguistics, assistant lecturer in the Department of Catalan Studies at UA, and member of ISIC-IVITRA, analyses the phrase de pa amb fonteta, and reflects on the confluence of semantic and syntagmatic neology that can also be observed in other phraseological units. In the second chapter, Josep Martines is an expert in Diachronic Semantics and Lexicology and Lexicography, and also a specialist in cognitive-based Diachronic Linguistics, University Professor in the Department of Catalan Philology at the University of Alicante, and member of ISIC-IVITRA, he analyzes the neologism figatell (‘pork lean and liver burger seasoned with spices’), which is an allegedly Italian word that was adopted in Catalan. Closing the third block is the work by Caterina Martínez, also a specialist in cognitivist-oriented diachronic linguistics, assistant lecturer in the Department of Catalan Studies at UA, and member of ISIC-IVITRA. It is based on the analysis of the neologism preqüela (prequel) in order to reflect on the dictionarisation of blends from a cognitive semantics perspective.

In the final block, we find the three very last works, which focus on aspects of linguistic variation. The first one is by Elisenda Bernal, a neology and lexicography specialist, lecturer in the Department of Translation and Language Sciences at UPF, and member of the InfoLex group and the Neology Observatory, and by Martí Freixas, a doctoral student at UPF and member of the InfoLex group and the Neology Observatory. In their work, the authors analyse the dictionarisation of colloquial neologisms, which are under-represented in Catalan lexicography. In the second work, Rosa Estopà, a terminology and neology specialist, tenured lecturer in the Department of Translation and Language Sciences at UPF, researcher in the IULATERM group and the Neology Observatory, and coordinator of the Online Master in Terminology, reflects on the dictionarisation of specialised neologisms, based on the fact that speakers now have greater access to specialised knowledge than ever before, and consequently have increased terminological needs that the dictionary should meet. Closing the final block of chapters is the work by Maria Gené, a specialist in neology and foreign language teaching, collaborating lecturer at the Universitat de les Illes Balears (UIB) and UOC, and member of the Neology Observatory. In her work, she reflects on one of the limitations of the lexicographical criterion in terms of detecting ←12 | 13→neologisms; the one that turns some words that are not in the dictionary into neologisms for reasons other than novelty. In this case, it is because they are dialectalisms.

* * *

Thus, the relevance of the scientific contributions included in this book goes beyond the study of a list of words: here, the reader will find an analysis of a) the factors and mechanisms of linguistic change in present-day Catalan, especially of lexical renewal; b) the impact that cultural globalisation, language contact and individual creativity have on it, and c) linguistic variation (functional and territorial in particular).

The studies combine quantitative and qualitative analyses of the data, from comprehensive descriptions of the materials to the detailed treatment of specific cases illustrating the tendencies in neologism generation. In sum, attention is paid to the procedures of creation of words, phraseological units, constructions and new meanings, and the arguments are given to support not only the selection of neologisms for inclusion in the standard dictionary, but also the consistency of that selection and its usefulness to speakers.

←14 | 15→
Judit Freixa
Universitat Pompeu Fabra

The Dictionarisation of Neologisms: The NADIC as a Model1

Abstract: This article focuses on the study of the dictionarisation of neologisms in the Catalan language. Accepting the idea that language is constantly evolving, that speakers and communities innovate the lexicon by creating new words, and that only some of these new words have the necessary characteristics to be included in reference dictionaries, this text presents the criteria identified by the project entitled Neologismes per a l’actualització del diccionari normatiu [Neologisms for the Purpose of Updating the Standard Dictionary] (NADIC) to select the best candidates for the aforementioned purpose.

The article firstly gives an account of the current situation, focusing on works that, from the perspective of different lexicographical traditions, have discussed potential criteria for the purpose of objectively and rigorously selecting words that ought to form part of reference dictionaries, bearing in mind that the aim of such dictionaries is not to include every new word that appears in use. It then presents the data: from the 77,400 neologisms in the Observatori de Neologia’s database, an initial selection of 25,000 neologisms was obtained by restricting the corpus to the 2008–2016 period. After applying the initial exclusion criteria, a working selection of 2,462 neologisms was obtained. Other criteria were then applied to arrive at the final selection of 927 neologisms.

The main part of the article is given over to a presentation of the 22 dictionarisation criteria identified by the NADIC project. Presented firstly are the 10 criteria of use, followed by the seven linguistic and thematic criteria, and lastly, by the five criteria of documentation. The criteria are therefore grouped together but, for each criterion, an explanation and examples are given, as are details of its manifestation in the NADIC project.

The article then goes on to present the results of applying the criteria and mechanisms, through which a final selection of candidates was obtained. Firstly, the general results are given (the distribution of the nearly 2,500 neologisms from the working selection by the number of criteria they fulfilled), and then the criteria weightings are presented. The basis for latter is the notion that not all criteria should carry the same weight, and that not all combinations should be possible. Details of the results are shown in three tables ←15 | 16→of dictionarisable neologisms in the top, middle and bottom ranges. Each of these tables is discussed, and tendencies are drawn from them with regard to the characteristics of more or less dictionarisable neologisms. Examples are also given of fuller or emptier dictionarisability matrices to exemplify the methodology and the results. Still within the analysis of the results, the weight of each criterion and of each block of criteria is examined, and there is an observation of the number of neologisms fulfilling each criterion.

Finally, in the conclusions, it is asserted that the criteria proposal designed by the NADIC is innovative, useful and sufficient, but not closed or definitive because, while it allowed nearly 1,000 of the most dictionarisable neologisms to be selected, it also showed that future works should put forward a more comprehensive proposal that could be validated for any type of dictionary in any language.

Keywords: dictionarisation, neologisms, Catalan, criteria

To dictionarise a word means entering it into a dictionary; dictionarisation is the action and the outcome, and dictionarisable is the adjective qualifying words that have certain characteristics making them suitable for inclusion in a dictionary. In this article, we also refer to dictionarisability, the quality displayed by certain words, to which priority is given for inclusion in dictionaries. As we shall see in the next section (§ State of play), the study of dictionarisation is not a new line of research, though it is gathering pace. It is also a topic that has been given different names and addressed from different approaches in the various lexicographical traditions.

In this work, we will talk about the dictionarisation of lexicographical neologisms, i.e., ‘new’ lexical units in the sense that they are currently in use yet absent from reference dictionaries. The reasons why some words do not appear in dictionaries are diverse, and so too are the types of words detected by applying this lexicographical criterion. It is often the case that very old, archaic or dialectal words do not appear in dictionaries. Similarly, dictionaries do not include every specialised term, every derived word with a transparent meaning, or every syntagmatic unit. That is why, besides those units that really are neological, many other types of words are obtained by the lexicographical criterion, and these are the ones that need to be gradually deselected.

The main aim of our reflection on neologisms and dictionaries is to present dictionarisation criteria that can be applied to neologisms in order to decide which ones are more dictionarisable, and we will exemplify this with the project entitled Neologismes per a l’actualització del diccionari normatiu [Neologisms for the Purpose of Updating the Standard Dictionary] (NADIC) commissioned by the Institut d’Estudis Catalans (IEC) to select 1,000 of the most dictionarisable neologisms for the purpose of updating the standard dictionary of the Catalan ←16 | 17→language. Thus, the examples will be current Catalan neologisms, which we will present in the section referring to data (§ The data).

State of play

The dictionarisation of neologisms is not a new line of research, since it was the focus of Barnhart’s2 work on searching for new words for dictionaries, and also of Sheidlower’s3 work on the principles for the inclusion of neologisms in academic dictionaries. And, in the new millennium, works by Ishikawa,4 and O’Donovan and O’Neill5 were published; these are also reference works for any studies related to this line of research. Without necessarily using the word dictionarisation, these works on how neologisms might be taken into account for the purpose of updating dictionaries (especially monolingual general dictionaries) can be found in the Anglophone literature, where lexicographical inclusion is the final step of the institutionalisation process, which has been studied to a considerable extent in that setting. Since Bauer,6 who saw the institutionalisation of a neologism as the step that comes after its appearance as a nonce word and the step before its lexicalisation, authors like Lipka7 have begun to argue that institutionalisation and lexicalisation are two independent processes that operate at different levels. It was Hohenhaus8 who gave us the idea of a path, in the sense that, from that first nonce occurrence, a neologism might remain only ←17 | 18→as a single footstep or, instead, begin its journey along a path. And, on reaching the end of that path, it will have become fully implanted in the speakers’ use. But it was Schmid9 who made the broadest proposal and gave the name establishment to the general process that takes place in three stages (creation, consolidation and establishing), and in the three subsequent levels: lexicalisation takes place at the language structure level, institutionalisation at the sociopragmatic use level, and hypostatisation of the concept at the cognitive level. Applying this reflection to dictionarisation, neologisms are dictionarisable if they complete the three stages at the three levels.

Similarly, there are no references to the form dictionarisation in the French tradition, which instead talks about lexicographisation.10 In works in Spanish within this line of research, actualización lexicográfica11 [lexicographical updating] and valor lexicográfico12 [lexicographical value] are mentioned. One of the two major strands of the research being conducted within the framework of the NEÓMETRO project13 is the study of dictionarisability, and it has already given rise to several forthcoming works by Bernal, Freixa, and Torner,14 and Freixa and Torner.15

←18 | 19→The mentioned works usually propose a combination of different criteria to guide the decision to include words in a dictionary. A high frequency of use is generally considered a basic criterion. Freixa16 has suggested that frequency of use should be a basic criterion that acts as a filter: the other criteria should only be applied to words with a high frequency of use, meaning that not all frequent neologisms should necessarily make their way into a dictionary. All those that do must nevertheless be frequent. Beyond frequency, various authors (especially Adelstein and Freixa)17 have proposed an articulation of four types of criteria: formal, semantic, sociolinguistic and lexicographical, and they assert that these criteria should be weighted depending on the type of dictionary being updated.

The data

Since the aim of the NADIC project was to select around 1,000 neologisms for the purpose of updating the standard dictionary of the Catalan language (herein ‘DIEC’), the data used were from the Xarxa d’Observatoris de Neologia de la Llengua Catalana [Network of Catalan-Language Neology Observatories] (NEOXOC),18 which mainly contains data from the Barcelona Observatori de Neologia.19 At the end of 2019, the Observatori de Neologia’s database (BOBNEO)20 contained 77,400 different neologisms (71,000 of which came from the Barcelona observatory).

For the NADIC project, a criterion of currency was applied in the first instance, so only those neologisms from the 2008–2016 period were taken into account. Thus, the initial selection was made up of nearly 25,000 neologisms from that period. It should be noted that the Observatori de Neologia applies a lexicographical criterion to identify neologisms. Thus, as already mentioned in the introduction, some of the detected units in use (texts from the print press and magazines, and oral texts from radio outlets) gathered by the Observatori de Neologia are not new. They are considered neologisms because they do not ←19 | 20→appear in the dictionaries used as exclusion corpora (Diccionari de la llengua catalana produced by the IEC, and the Gran diccionari de la llengua catalana produced by Enciclopèdia Catalana).

To create a corpus of neologisms that, for the purpose of the analysis, was more manageable in size, several exclusion criteria were applied21 until a working selection of 2,462 neologisms was obtained. A set of criteria was applied to this selection, which we will present in the next section (§ The criteria). Before that, however, we would like to show the distribution of the neologisms in the sample, which we call the working selection, which refers to the 2,462 neologisms that did not fulfil the exclusion criteria (see chart 1).

Chart 1.The working selection by process

As can be seen, derivation (prefixation and suffixation) is the most productive mechanism (not only in this selection, but also in the Observatori de Neologia’s set of data) and it accounts for 32.6 per cent, nearly a third of the total. Then we find borrowings from English (13.2 per cent) and, if we add the percentages of borrowings from Spanish (7.5 per cent) and other languages (6.6 per cent), the total percentage of non-vernacular words is 27.4 per cent. Neoclassical compounding (11.8 per cent), vernacular compounding (2.8 per cent) and syntagmatic compounding (5.7 per cent) together total 20.4 per cent, and semantic ←20 | 21→neology accounts for 9.2 per cent of the NADIC’s working selection. The rest of the processes (conversion, lexicalisation, truncation and others) are the least represented and together total 10.34 per cent.

We would therefore reiterate that, in the course of the project, we worked with three sets of data: the initial selection (the selection of 25,000 neologisms in the 2008–2016 period from the Observatori de Neologia’s much broader set of data); the working selection (the set of 2,462 neologisms that, from the aforementioned 25,000 initial neologisms, did not fulfil the exclusion criteria); and the final selection (the set of 927 neologisms that were ultimately selected after applying a set of other criteria).

The criteria

The literature review enabled us to see that there was no comprehensive, articulated proposal on criteria for the selection of the best candidate words for the purpose of updating standard dictionaries. Nor was there a methodology for applying the already identified criteria. We found that there was broad consensus on frequency criteria, and that Adelstein and Freixa22 had put forward a proposal on different blocks of criteria, but the proposal was not closed and had not been systematically applied to a corpus of neologisms.

Thus, the criteria proposal designed by the NADIC is innovative and, as we shall see, useful and sufficient, but not closed or definitive. Future works should complete the proposal by refining some of the proposed criteria and by adding new ones. The resulting proposal should not be targeted at updating standard dictionaries. Rather, in the application of the criteria, the proposal should anticipate the type of dictionary being updated or developed. Most of the criteria presented below, designed for the purpose of updating the standard dictionary of the Catalan language with new, documented words in use, mainly in the print press, would be just as valid in other scenarios, but each one might have a very different value depending on the type of dictionary.

The NADIC’s criteria are grouped together and presented in three blocks: criteria of use, linguistic and thematic criteria, and criteria of documentation. In turn, they may be exclusion criteria, which, if fulfilled would automatically reject a unit, or inclusion criteria, which, if fulfilled, would have that aspect added to its dictionarisation matrix. Ultimately, only those neologisms with matrices meeting the requirements presented further below will be dictionarisable. As ←21 | 22→shown in Table 1, the proposal has 22 criteria: 10 criteria of use, seven linguistic and thematic criteria, and five criteria of documentation. In the table, the seven exclusion criteria are shaded, whereas the 15 inclusion criteria are not.

Table 1. Dictionarisation criteria proposed by the NADIC project

Criteria of use

1. currency

2. appearance

3. stability

4. spread

5. localism

6. high frequency

7. very high frequency

8. diatopic representativeness

9. guidance on use

10. validation by specialists

Linguistic and thematic criteria

11. formation

12. variant

13. completion of a derivative series

14. completion of a semantic series

15. completion of a thematic field

16. impact on the dictionary

17. unpredictability

Criteria of documentation

18. appearance in specialised dictionaries

19. appearance in prioritised general dictionaries

20. appearance in non-prioritised general dictionaries

21. appearance in dictionaries of other languages

22. appearance in corpora

Criteria of use

According to the literature, dictionarisable units should be currently in use because that is essentially what attests to the speakers’ need for them. Such appearance in use can be objectivised by the different criteria in this block.

1.Currency: to be dictionarisable, a neologism must appear in use (in the case of the NADIC, in the 2008–2016 period).


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2023 (January)
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2022. 428 pp., 13 fig. b/w, 54 tables.

Biographical notes

Judit Freixa (Volume editor) M. Isabel Guardiola (Volume editor) Josep Martines (Volume editor) M. Amor Montané (Volume editor)

Judit Freixa is a senior lecturer at the Department of Translation and Language Sciences (Universitat Pompeu Fabra) and a researcher of the IULATERM research group. Her research interests are neology, lexicography and terminological variation. M. Isabel Guardiola is a lecturer at the University of Alacant (Department Catalan Philology, ISIC-IVITRA). She holds a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and Letters (Philology) – Specialization in Valencian philology (1996) and Hispanic Philology (2000), and a PhD in Catalan language and literature from the Universitat d’Alacant (2004). Her main research interests focus on the study of the history of the Catalan lexicography in the Valencian country. Josep Martines is a full professor at the Universitat d’Alacant (Department of Catalan Philology, ISIC-IVITRA) and holds an MA in toponymy. He is a member of the Institut d’Estudis Catalans (Secció Filològica) and the Acadèmia Valenciana de la Llengua. His lines of research focus on diachronic semantics and lexicology, diachronic syntax, lexicography, neology, toponymy and corpus linguistics. M. Amor Montané holds a PhD in language sciences and applied linguistics (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, 2012) with a thesis titled Terminologia i implantació: anàlisi d’alguns factors que influencien l’ús dels termes normalitzats de la informàtica i les TIC en llengua catalana (published in 2013). Her main fields of research are terminology, specialized discourse and neology.


Title: Dictionarization of Catalan Neologisms
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430 pages