- 㳿

| Staff | Address | Structure | Conference | Herald | Archive | Announcement |


of L'viv Polytechnic National University

"Problems of Ukrainian Terminology"


Dutsiak I. Justification of the approach to definitions formulating in explanatory dictionaries //  Website of TC STTS: Herald of L'viv Polynechnic National University "Problems of Ukrainian Terminology". 2014. # 791.


Ihor Dutsiak

Lviv Polytechnic National University




Dutsiak I. Z., 2014


Different ways of formulating definitions have been analyzed in order to find the way that will ensure the correctness of definitions in accordance with the purposes of a monolingual dictionary (to provide a set of unique features in order to distinguish the marked object from other similar objects; to give the most significant features of the object to meet the cognitive needs of a human; the perspicuity of a concept definition for its easy understanding by non-specialists in the given area of expertise). A conclusion is made on the feasibility of using scientific definitions in monolingual dictionaries.

Keywords: monolingual dictionary, term, definition, correctness of the definition.


The essence of the problem that became the subject of this research is the fact that the definitions included in any explanatory dictionary should meet a set of certain requirements namely such as:

1. A definition should allow the marked with the word object to be distinguished. (In order to distinguish an object from other objects it is necessary to present an arbitrary set of unique features of the defined object). 

2. A definition should be an explanation (interpretation) of the essence of the object marked with the words. (In order to explain the essence of an object it is necessary to name the objects most essential features). Thus, a human being can be defined as a mammal with a soft ear lobe; and this feature is enough for distinguishing people from other mammals. However, this is not an essential feature. So, such a definition will be imperfect. To express the essence of the defined object the definition should include the list of its essential features, i.e. the features that determine the existence of other features. If, for example, in the definition of a human being there is indicated the ability to think abstractly and the ability to conduct transforming activities on the basis of the above mentioned form of reflecting the reality, then these features will be the basis for explaining a large number of other features of a human being as well as specifics and variety of forms and results of the human beings activities.  

Since the nature of an object (its essential features) is shown through the scientific cognitive activity, the largest explanatory potential will be contained in the definitions formulated by the scientists in the specific field.

3. The definition should be understandable to the addressee of the explanatory dictionary. (The addressee should know the meanings of all the words contained in the definition).

At the same time, it turns out that to achieve the above presented goals at least partially it is necessary to perform some opposite actions achieving one goal complicates achieving others, and vice versa. In fact, if we want to put into the definition the most essential features of the object being defined we are to use the scientific definition of the word. However, such a definition will not be understood by a non-professional (while these are just non-professionals who mostly use explanatory dictionaries). So, in case of the maximum cognitive potential, when the definition contains the most essential features, its accessibility is minimized. If we try to formulate this definition in the most understandable form it will not contain the essential features thus becoming unacceptable for explaining the object being defined. The purpose of the research was to identify the approach that might provide the definition that would contain all the three features listed above.

The research shows that to ensure that the definitions included into the explanatory dictionaries have the above mentioned features the following approach may be used.

To achieve a few different (including incompatible with used options) goals the dictionary article should be divided into some parts, the task of which is to achieve the only goal. In the context of the analyzed problem the dictionary article should contain the following parts:

1. The scientific definition of the defined word (corresponding to the definition presented in general and specialized encyclopedic dictionaries). Such a definition provides information on the essential features of the defined object.

2. The popular and scientific presentation of the scientific definition. With the help of such a presentation the content of the scientific definition becomes understandable for non-specialists. 

3. The definition that contains only general vocabulary and is used only for differentiating the defined object from the others.



    - 㳿