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Observing Norm, Observing Usage

Lexis in Dictionaries and the Media


Edited By Alessandra Molino and Serenella Zanotti

This volume includes a collection of studies on the interplay between norm and usage in lexis, which is explored by looking at both dictionaries and the media. The title features the polysemous verb to observe, which is used both in the sense of «investigating» use/usage and in that of «respecting» norms. This thematic area is analysed from a synchronic perspective focusing predominantly on the lexis of four European languages, namely English, French, Italian and Spanish, although other languages are occasionally referred to (e.g. Catalan and Danish). The volume comprises nineteen chapters, which provide a wide-ranging, but deeply focused overview of the complex and challenging interrelation between sites and processes of norm formation and the recontextualization, reconfiguration and re-creation of those norms. The book is structured in four thematic sections, which focus on the norm-setting role of dictionaries, the importance of authentic language use in recent lexicographic products, the impact of the Web on language usage as well as on the processes of norm creation and diffusion, and the impact of mass-mediated communication on lexis.
The volume contains contributions in English, French, Italian and Spanish.
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Caribbean English Vocabulary: Setting a Norm through Lexicographic Practice


1. Introduction

Caribbean English (CarE), the variety of English spoken throughout the Anglophone Caribbean, is one of the several extraterritorial Englishes (ETEs) in use around the world. Due to the varied context of each Caribbean territory, the vocabulary features of CarE witness a dynamic and diversified reality. In such a complex sociolinguistic milieu, mostly affected by continua and fuzzy borders, a shared norm – in lexicographic terms – cannot be easily set.

The most recent contributions to Caribbean lexicography, that is, the Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage (DCEU) and the New Register of Caribbean English Usage (NRCEU), encompass all English varieties spoken in the Caribbean. In the introduction to the DCEU it is stated that the dictionary, “equipped to function as a cultural agent” (Allsopp R. 2003b: XXXI), is both “descriptive” (Allsopp R. 2003b: XXV) and “prescriptive” (Allsopp R. 2003b: XXVI), thus having the explicit goal of putting on paper a shared norm, at least as far as vocabulary is concerned. Therefore, the aim of this chapter is to assess – through lexicographic evidence – whether a norm can be recognised as CarE, despite the complex coexistence of various local varieties within the English-speaking Caribbean.1 ← 89 | 90 →

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