Squeezing Italian dictionaries in search of citrus juice and fruit

Carla Marello, Elisa Corino (2021), Squeezing Italian dictionaries in search of citrus juice and fruit,

in Lexicographica 37 [Historical lexicography of the landscape and the digital age

edited by Wiebke Blanck, Anja Lobenstein-Reichmann and Stefan J. Schierholz], pp. 115-135.

[estratto da pag. 134]

Monolingual and bilingual dictionaries are not always the most useful sources to
address in order to sketch the landscape of a country through its language. As we
have demonstrated in this case study on agrume, the categorization of the hyponyms

and the members of the taxonomy largely depends upon the choices of each diction-
ary, which are not always consistent. A full text searches might not give the expected

results and one has to look up the single entry to link the cultivar to its genus and
common superordinate.
In order to give a better lexicographic account of the landscape, dictionaries
might want to consider to quote the hyperonym agrume in all the dictionary articles
that are related to the category in order to have a proper mapping of its members.

As it has already been proved in other works on landscape and lexicography (Vil-
lalva/Williams 2019), a certain confusion in both monolingual and bilingual diction-
aries can be observed. Especially in bilinguals, equivalents are not completely accu-
rate and the treatment of some national products is inconsistent and blurred.

In the current trend of the enhancement of the typical products of a territory and
the defense of the designation of origin, it would be appropriate that the dictionaries
also contributed to better convey the peculiarities of a product through definitions
that really help to identify the genus proximum and the difference among citruses, and
consequently more precise translations.

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Annette Klosa
Annette Klosa
1 anno fa

Kennst du das Land, wo die Zitronen blühn,
Im dunkeln Laub die Goldorangen glühn,
Ein sanfter Wind vom blauen Himmel weht,
Die Myrte still und hoch der Lorbeer steht?
  (Aus: „Mignon“, Johann Wolfang von Goethe – 1795)
Do you know the land where citrons bloom,
Golden oranges glow among dark leaves,
A gentle wind blows from the blue sky,
The myrtle is still, and the laurel stands tall?
  (From: „Mignon“, Johann Wolfang von Goethe – 1795)
If there’s one thing we Germans associate with Italy, it’s certainly citrus fruits, and products like lemon ice cream or Limoncello are just as coveted in Germany as they probably are in Italy. As you can see, Italy was already defined in the 18th century as the country where lemons bloom and golden oranges shine. However, the fact that citrus fruits also have a lexicographic aspect and are a very good example of how a country’s landscape and climate also affect its dictionaries was brought to my attention by Elisa Corino and Carla Marello in their paper with the telling title “Squeezing Italian dictionaries in search of citrus juice and fruit”.
The yield of this detailed study is rich, and as is so often the case when the entries for a word family or word field in different dictionaries are examined, numerous inconsistencies emerge: as diverse as the citrus family is, so is the lexicographic description of citrus names in monolingual and bilingual Italian dictionaries. Although this finding may be as sour or bitter to swallow for practical lexicography as the juice of many a citrus fruit, this investigation may whet the appetite for a more planned approach to practical lexicography. For example, it is advisable to define specific vocabulary subsets and assign them to a lexicographer who can attend to the consistent definition of co-hyponyms using the hyperonymic term. And yes, this practice may feel sour to dictionary editors, as more planning is required, but in the end, the dictionaries they produce are used with more joy, in keeping with the German motto “Sauer macht lustig.” ( ‘Sour makes merry’).
I would like to thank Carla Marello and her co-author Elisa Corino for giving us some lemons in their text to make lemonade!