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Sandro Nielsen

Associate Professor, PhD

Centre for Lexicography






This is a short, annotated list of selected publications on lexicography, LSP lexicography, monolingual and bilingual LSP dictionaries (specialised dictionaries, Fachwörterbücher, dictionnaires spécialisée, fagordbøger).



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


·         This paper argues that a description of LSP dictionaries should focus on the number of lemmata (head words) and the number of fields covered by a dictionary. It establishes a distinction between maximising and minimising dictionaries, and a distinction between multi-field and single-field dictionaries, and divide the latter into general-field and sub-field dictionaries. It is suggested that the best coverage, or lexicographical treatment, of LSP communication is achieved by a dictionary containing a large number of words from a limited area of LSP communication, rather than a dictionary containing a large number of words from a broad area, or several areas, of LSP communication.

·         International key words: fagordbog; maksimerende ordbog; minimerende ordbog; delfagsordbog; enkeltfagsordbog; flerfagsordbog; LSP dictionary; maximising dictionary; minimising dictionary; sub-field dictionary; single-field dictionary; multi-field dictionary; Fachcwörterbuch; Teilfachwörterbuch; Einzelfachwörterbuch; Mehrfachwörterbuch; dictionnaire spécialisée; dictionnaire maximaliste; dictionnaire minimaliste; dictionnaire du sous-domaine; dictionnaire monodomaine; dictionnaire pluridomaine.



Sandro Nielsen: "Forholdet mellem alordbøger og enkeltfagsordbøger." In: R. V. Fjeld (ed.): Nordiske studier i leksikografi. Rapport fra Konferanse om leksikografi i Norden 28.-31. mai 1991. Oslo: Nordisk forening for leksikografi, 275-287.


·         This paper argues that a bilingual LSP (specialised) dictionary should be compiled as an all-inclusive sub-field dictionary. A dictionary like this will contain encyclopedic and linguistic information addressed to the lemmata (head words) as well as the equivalents. It is also suggested that the articles of bilingual LSP dictioanries should contain examples, collocations, information on synonymy and antonymy, and illustrations. As all these types of information take up a lot of space in the two-dimensional space of a printed dictionary, a bilingual LSP dictionary should be compiled within a narrow subject-field.  Such a dictionary will provide the user with an in-depth treatment of the language used within the selected subject-field. Examples based on legal dictionaries are given illustrating how encyclopedic and linguistic information can be incorporated in the dictionary.

·         International key words: fagordbog; alordbog; enkeltfagsordbog; all-inclusive dictionary; single-field dictionary; Fachwörterbuch; Allbuch; Einzelfachwörterbuch; dictionnaire spécialisée; dictionnaire monodomaine.



Sandro Nielsen: The Bilingual LSP Dictionary. Principles and Practice for Legal Language. Tübingen: Gunter Narr Verlag 1994 (Forum für Fachsprachen-Forschung Band 24).


·         This book is a revised version of a PhD dissertation. It explains why it is necessary for lexicographers to have a well-defined basis before they embark on the task of compiling LSP dictionaries, and suggests how the lexicographers may go about this task. The main focus is on legal lexicography and bilingual law dictionaries. To compile the optimal bilingual LSP dictionary, the lexicographic needs of the potential users (target group) must be ascertained as well as their knowledge concerning LSP fields and language. Most users need both linguistic and encyclopedic information, and one of the lexicographer's principal tasks is to organise and present this information in a way that is well-structured and easy to understand. All this involves the use of various lexicographic analyses: Dictionary user research dealing with the factual and linguistic competences of the target group; dictionary typology based on the number of fields and the degree of coverage; function(s) of dictionaries; organisation of dictionary chapters (components): preface, user's guide, field introduction, word list, supplementary texts; selection of lemmata and equivalents, including collocations and phrases; presentation of lemmata, in continuous and discontinuous wordlists, and alphabetical and systematic wordlists; presentation of the information contained in the articles: grammar, definitions, equivalents, examples, collocations, phrases, synonyms, antonyms, cross-references. The theoretical and practical lexicographic exercises involved in this process are discussed and illustrated by examples from a projected bilingual law dictionary.

·         International key words: juridisk ordbog; forord; brugervejledning; fagindledning; lemmaliste; makrostruktur, mediostruktur; mikrostruktur; Benutzungsanleitung; Wörterverzeichnis; dictionnaire juridique bilingue; preface; guide de l'utilisateur; introduction á la spécialité; liste de lemmes; macrostructure; microstructure; bilingual law dictionary.



Sandro Nielsen: "Dictionary Components." In: H. Bergenholtz/S. Tarp (eds.): Manual of Specialised Lexicography. The preparation of specialised dictionaries. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamin Publishing 1995, 167-187.


·         This is one of the chapters in the Manual of Specialised Lexicography, which is one of the results of a research project called "Translation of LSP Texts" sponsored by the Danish Research Council for the Humanities 1990-1993. This text introduces, defines, discusses and explains the function of and relationship between the various components of a dictionary. The point of departure is the premise that a dictionary is a complex unit made up of a number of independent components that together constitute a whole, namely the dictionary. The components that are treated in this text are: the list of contents; the preface; the metalexicographical introduction; the user's guide, including list of symbols and abbreviations used; the encyclopedic section, also referred to as the field introduction; the dictionary grammar; the word list; the index; the appendix; the informative label.

·         Further contributions to Manual of Specialised Lexicography, in Chapter 10 on Dictionary Structures: "Alphabetical Macrostructures", pp.190-195; "Microstructure", pp. 200-211; "Frame Structure", pp. 211-214; "Cross-reference Structure", pp. 215-219; "Access Structure", pp. 219-223. Each of these texts introduces, defines, discusses and explains the function and relationship between these lexicographical structures.

·         International key words: alfabetisk makrostruktur; mikrostruktur; tilgangsstruktur; henvisningsstruktur; Verteilungsstruktur; Zugriffsstruktur; structure des renvois; structure d'accès.



Sandro Nielsen/Rita Sørensen: "Juridiske oversættelsesordbøger [Legal Translation Dictionaries]." In: LexicoNordica 5-1998, 129-248.


·         This paper argues that traditional bilingual law dictionaries are insufficient because they merely contain information about legal terms, and that translation dictionaries within the field of law need to contain more than terminological information. The legal translation dictionary proper has to be designed so that it includes both encyclopedic and linguistic information, especially stylistic information about the legal usage of the languages treated by the dictionary. The optimum legal translation dictionary should contain separate chapters (components) that deal with the different linguistic aspects of legal translation across cultures, and it is much more than just a book containing a list of legal terms in the source language and their translation into the target language. Examples are given involving linguistic structures in Danish, English and Spanish legal usage.



Sandro Nielsen: "Mediostructures in Bilingual LSP Dictionaries." In: Lexicographica. International Annual for Lexicography/Revue Internationale de Lexicographie/Internationales Jahrbuch für Lexikographie 15/1999, 90-113.


·         This paper argues that the lexicographic mediostructure is a network structure that deals with a set or sets of relations that exist between different parts of data by way of cross-referencing, dictionary-internal as well as dictionary, external. The abstract mediostructure consists of all the possible sets of cross-referential relations, whether realised by concrete sets or not in the dictionary. The actual realisation of these referential networks may be function-related and the primary function of the dictionary may then be given priority. The actual cross-references at this level are then the concrete sets of relations depending on the function of the dictionary, the distribution structure and the search path involved in retrieving the information. The paper introduces a distinction between use-related and funtion-related corss-references and focuses on cross-references supporting the comprehension of texts. It is possible to show hierachical relationships (genus/species relation) between terms as well as sequential relations by way of cross-references. Examples taken from bilingual law dictionaries also show that cross-references can facilitate the use of synopsis articles and the placing of factual information in the field introduction in stead of in the articles. It is further argued that the compilers of a dictionary need to take a broad approach to the lexicographic mediostructure as it is directly linked to several other structures. Finally, the concept of lexicographic information costs is introduced.

·         International key words: mediostruktur; fordelingsstruktur; henvisning; renvoi; structure des renvois; Verweis; Hinweis; Mediostruktur; Verteilungsstruktur; Zugriffsstruktur.



Sandro Nielsen: "Translation Strategies for Culture-Specific Textual Conventions in Bilingual Dictionaries." In: Lexicographica. International Annual for Lexicography/Revue Internationale de Lexicographie/Internationales Jahrbuch für Lexikographie 16/2000, 152-168.


·         This paper argues that in connection with translation, the principles of lexicographical treatment and presentation of culture-specific genre conventions are major issues within the field of lexicography. It is important to the user because the bilingual dictionaries consulted contain information that can help him to translate not only words and phrases, but also genre conventions, verbal as well as non-verbal. Culture dictates convention and a good bilingual translation dictionary would help the user select the proper target language convention for a particular communicative situation. It is demonstrated that the translation strategies adopted by the lexicographers have not been used consistently for the user to make the best translation possible. The lexicographers have more or less arbitrarily adopted the source-oriented and the target-oriented translation strategies, which results in the user mixing-up the strategies in his translations. It is suggested that lexicographers must be more careful when they present equivalents and translations addressed to the lemma, collocations and phrases. A successful translation is one that does not violate both source language and target language conventions with respect to a particular type of convention; something which will often be the case if existing bilingual dictionaries are consulted. Consequently, the lexicographers need to carry out (comparative) genre analyses and to adopt an appropriate translation strategy in order to help the user in the best possible way. One solution is to include a chapter (component) in the dictionary dealing with the translation of conventions within one or more selected discourse communities. It is then possible to clearly show how to translate genre conventions according to a source-oriented and a target-oriented translation strategy in a consistent manner that will not lead the user astray. The main examples deal with textual conventions in legal language and bilingual law dictionaries.



Sandro Nielsen: "Textual Condensation in the Articles of de Gruyter Wörterbuch Deutsch als Fremdsprache." In: H. E. Wiegand (ed.): Perspektiven der pädagogischen Lexikographie des Deutschen II. Untersuchungen anhand des de Gruyter Wörterbuch Deutsch als Fremdsprache. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag 2002, 597-608.


·         On the basis of the de Gruyter Wörterbuch Deutsch als Fremdsprache, textual condensation in articles are discussed. The point of departure is that the information in the articles of a dictionary designed for learners must be presented so that the user can successfully and easily understand the informational content. The discussion deals with two core elements of the article: the comment on form and the comment on semantics. The study shows that the textual condensation carried out in both the comment on form (grammar codes etc.) and the comment on semantics is extensive and has resulted in texts that are difficult to decode for the learner-user without a very substantial knowledge of the information in the metatexts. Several ways of condensing texts are discussed: shortening (Kürzen), omitting (Auslassen), substituting (Ersetzen), abbreviating (Abkürzen) and embedding (Ineinanderschachtelung). The conclusion is that the lexicographers have generally given priority to textual condensation in stead of helping the user learn and use the German language. A way of calculating the degree of condensation and a guiding threshold for the condensation ratio are also suggested.

·         Die Angaben in einem deutschen Lernerwörterbuch sollten vor allem so dargeboten werden, dass sie von den ausländischen Benutzern ohne Probleme verstanden werden können. In dem Beitrag werden konkrete Angaben in ausgewählten Wörterbucheinträgen in Bezug auf die Textverdichtung untersucht. Es zeigt sich, dass die Textverdichtung so stark ist, dass die erfolgreiche Benutzung des Wörterbuches ohne genauen Kenntnisse der Benutzeranleitungen sehr schwerig ist und die vorgesehene Wörterbuchfunktion stark beeinträchtigt wird.

·         Le dictionnaire d'apprentissage prévu pour les étudiant d'allemand language étrangère doit être conçu de manière à permettre une lecture facile et univoque. Ceci est vrai particulièrement pour ce qui est l'information semantique et formelle des articles du dictionnaire. La prèsente contribution analyse ces informations sous forme d'indications de condensation de texte prélevées de nombre d'articles de dictionaire. Il s'est avéré que ladite condensation est assez marquée ce qui rend difficile le décodage pour l'apprentisseur-utilisateur ignorant le contenu totale des metatextes. Les lexicographes semblent focaliser sur la condensation des textes et non sur l'assistance de l'utilisateur désirant apprendre et se servir de la langue allemande.



Sandro Nielsen: Lexicographical Basis for an Electronic Bilingual Accounting Dictionary: Theoretical Considerations. Internet text © 2002. Read the text.


·         This paper describes some selected aspects of the pre-conceptual work in connection with an Internet-based Danish-English dictionary covering the field of accounting. The emphasis is on text-dependent and text-independent functions related to the intended user group, as this relationship is crucial in the design and preparation of this type of dictionary. In contrast to existing dictionaries within this field, this is a syntagmatic dictionary with many types of information that are designed to help the user produce and translate texts. The dictionary articles will contain such types of information as grammatical information, definitions, equivalents, pronunciation, collocations, phrases, cross-references and Internet links.

·         International keywords: Internet dictionaries; electronic dictionaries; Danish-English accounting dictionary; accounting dictionaries; financial reporting; syntagmatic dictionaries; search structure; LSP dictionaries; specialised dictionaries; Internet-ordbøger; dansk-engelsk regnskabsordbog; regnskabsordbøger; finansiel rapportering; elektroniske ordbøger; søgestrukturer; syntagmatisk ordbog; Internetwörterbuch; electronische Wörterbücher; Fachwörterbücher; syntagmatisches Wörterbuch.



Sandro Nielsen: "Changes in Dictionary Subject Matter". In: H. E. Wiegand (ed.): Untersuchungen zur kommerxiellen Lexikographie der deutschen Gegenwartsprache !. "Duden. Das groβe Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache in zehn Bänden". Print- und CD-ROM-Version. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag 2003, 109-114.


·         This paper describes the changes in the dictionary subject matter (Wörtebuchgegenstand) of the three editions of the Duden dictionary. The linguisitical approach to the dictionary as a concept operates with a subject matter, but the analysis reveals that it is not optimal to look at "the subject matter" of a dictionary within the existing theoretical, linguistically-based framework. Instead a lexicographical approach is presented in which the dictionary is analysed as an object of investigation, and a new definition of the concept of dictionary is suggested. A dictionary has three significant features: The underlying feature is that the dictionary has been compiled to fulfil one or more functions. Secondly, the dictionary contains data suporting the function(s); and thirdly, the dictionary contains lexicographic structures that link and combine the data into the task of fulfilling its function(s). The important point is that the three features must be seen together as they interact: the function(s) is (are) a discrete feature; the data are dependent on the function(s); and the lexicographic structures depend on the data and the function(s). It is suggested that the idea of a dictionary subject matter as described in the literature is trivial, and that the traditional definition of a dictionary is insufficient. The suggested definition allows the theoretical lexicographer to treat the dictionary as an object of investigation, analysis and description, and the practical lexicographer to treat the dictionary as a "workpiece".



Sandro Nielsen: "Towards a General Theory of Bilingual Legal Lexicography". In: P. Kastberg (ed.): LSP Translation in the New Millennium. A Cross-Baltic Symposium on Didactics and Research. 8-11 November 2001, University of Tartu, Estonia. Hermes Skriftsserie 2003, pp. 165-188.


·         As the need for intercultural communication in the field of law has increased, the foundation of a general theory of bilingual legal lexicography must be given priority. This paper introduces, describes and explains the elements necessary for compiling the optimal bilingual law dictionary. The theory deals with much more than the traditional question of equivalence, and shows which considerations are necessary to fully exploit the potential of printed dictionaries for the benefit of the users. Most users need linguistic and factual information that must be organised and presented in a structured way. This includes user research, organisation of dictionary chapters, and the presentation and structure of the linguistic and factual information in the articles and elsewhere in the dictionary.



Sandro Nielsen: "Monolingual accounting dictionaries for EFL text production". In: Ibèrica 12, 2006, pp. 43-64. Read the text


·         Monolingual accounting dictionaries may be used by international users for the production of accounting texts in English as a foreign language. By identifying and analysing the intended users' factual and linguistic competences, their needs, use-situations and the stages involved in text production, it is possible to get a sound basis for designing the optimal English accounting dictionary for EFL text production. The dictionary will have to give information about UK, US and international accounting terms, their grammatical properties, relevant collocations, phrases and sentences to meet user requirements. Data items that deal with these aspects are necessary for the international users as they produce subject-field specific and register-specific texts in a foreign language. The relevant data items are those applicable to the various stages in text production: draft writing, copyediting, stylistic editing and proofreading.



Sandro Nielsen: "A Functional Approach to User Guides". In: Dictionaries: Journal of the Dictionary Society of North America, No. 27, 2006, pp. 1-20.


·         The functional approach forces lexicographers to reconsider the scope of user guides. User guides have traditionally centred on the structures of entries – and consequently on the word list – but their scope should be widened, so as to include all function-related dictionary components, thereby highlighting the fact that a dictionaries are much more than lists of words and that they can be used to solve specific function-related problems. One way in which to write really crafted and valuable user guides is to accentuate the relevant communication-oriented and/or cognitive functions and relate the data in the entire dictionary, not merely the entries, to these functions. Moreover, lexicographers should consider the classes of language functions involved in writing user guides. In order to guide and instruct the user in the best way possible, user guides should contain text parts that have a directive discourse function, as this is a good way in which to tell users how to benefit the most when consulting dictionaries in a function-specific context. The functional approach will enable lexicographers to write user guides that are true to their genuine purpose: explain how to effectively use the dictionary.



Sandro Nielsen: “The Effect of Lexicographical Information Costs on Dictionary Making and Use”. In: Lexikos 18 (AFRILEX-reeks/series 18: 2008), pp. 170-189.


·         An important aspect for lexicographers to consider is the ease with which users will be able to acquire information from the data presented in electronic and printed dictionaries. A distinction is proposed between two general types of lexicographical information costs: Search-related information costs are the effort required by the look-up activities users have to perform when consulting dictionaries to find access to the data they are searching for. Access routes, article structures, data distribution and cross-references may influence search-related information costs positively as well as negatively. Comprehension-related information costs are the effort connected to users’ ability to understand and interpret the data presented in dictionaries, i.e. how easy or difficult is it for users to understand the data? Examples show how textual condensation, dictionary functions and user situations may affect the level of comprehension-related information costs. The paper thus shows that it is possible to establish a framework for evaluating lexicographical information costs for the purpose of dictionary making, use, analysis and research.




Sandro Nielsen: “Reviewing printed and electronic dictionaries: A theoretical and practical framework”. In: S. Nielsen/S. Tarp (Eds.): Lexicography in the 21st Century. In honour of Henning Bergenholtz. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing 2009, pp. 23-41.


·         Dictionary reviewing is an integral part of the lexicography, and this paper discusses generally applicable principles of dictionary criticism embracing both printed and electronic dictionaries. First of all, scholarly reviews should be written so as to contain information that is useful to their intended audiences and the paper proposes a set of principles that are generally applicable to achieve this goal. Secondly, reviewers may write useful reviews by treating the dictionary as an object of analysis and examination instead of an object of description. Thirdly, there are three approaches to reviewing dictionaries, the lexicographic, factual and linguistic approaches, and these approaches should be combined with the three significant features of dictionaries: lexicographic functions, data and structures. Finally, it is imperative that a dictionary review gives a true and fair view of the dictionary by focusing on specific requirements to the informative value of reviews: relevance, materiality, reliability and neutrality. The use of the proposed framework will strengthen the role of dictionary reviews in the scholarly discourse community.

·         International keywords: dictionary reviewing; lexicographic functions; lexicographic data; lexicographic structures; significant features; useful information





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