I would like to know if distinct terms or phrases exist for two types of dictionaries;

The first type of dictionary presents words alongside one or more possible definitions, constrained to a single language. The second type is a bilingual/multilingual dictionary where words are presented with their translations.

I feel like monolingual does not automatically infer a dictionary of definitions. Also in general monolingual/bilingual/multilingual feels excessively technical and I'd resort to them if the distinction I'm trying to make cannot be conveyed by a simple term or phrase.

A quick Google search shows me https://www.merriam-webster.com/ is the first type of dictionary I'm trying to define while https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english-german is the second type.

  • I think you have misunderstood what the entry on lexicon is talking about. Although it can be used to describe a dictionary, especially a Greek one (whether mono- or bi-lingual) it is describing here the set of words you know and saying it usually refers to one language. Thus "I have a lexicon of 20,000 words in English, and one of 2 words in Welsh" rather than just counting the total number of words I know. – David Robinson May 19 '19 at 16:53
  • @DavidRobinson you are absolutely right. My question still stands but the confusion is solved now, I edited my question to reflect the change. – Yiğit Sever May 19 '19 at 17:03
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    Are you asking what a monolingual and a bilingual dictionary are called? Your question is confusing. What is wrong with the words "monolingual" and "bilingual"? – Mari-Lou A May 20 '19 at 10:15
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    Yeah, I think you should edit and say why the terms monolingual and/or bilingual dictionary do not suit your needs. Bilingual means two languages, but you also mention "multilingual" in the question body. – Mari-Lou A May 20 '19 at 10:28
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    "monolingual dictionary" or just plain "dictionary" :) – Mari-Lou A May 20 '19 at 10:39

On A Practical Guide to Lexicography (2003), edited by Piet van Sterkenburg, the first type of dictionary is referred as dictionary.

For us, looking for a definition of ‘dictionary’ is looking for a definition of the prototypical dictionary. The prototypical dictionary is the alphabetical monolingual general-purpose dictionary. Its characteristics are the use of one and the same language for both the object and the means of description, the supposed exhaustive nature of the list of described words and the more linguistic than encyclopaedic nature of the knowledge offered. The monolingual general-purpose dictionary . . .

contains primarily semasiological rather than onomasiological or non-semantic data, gives a description of a standard language rather than restricted or marked language varieties, and serves a pedagogical purpose rather than a critical or scholarly one.
(Geeraerts 1989:293–294)

What makes the monolingual general-purpose dictionary so prototypical? I will continue here on the course set out by Béjoint (2000:40):

It is the one that every household has, that everyone thinks of first when the word dictionary is mentioned, it is the type that is most often bought, most often consulted, the one that plays the most important role in the society that produces it. (Page 3)

The second type of the dictionary is referred as multilingual or translation dictionary.

According to Zgusta (1971:294) the basic aim of multilingual or translation dictionaries is ‘to co-ordinate with the lexical units of one language those units of another language which are equivalent in their lexical meaning’. On the microstructural level this function is realised by providing for a lemma in the source language one or more translation equivalents in the target language. (Page 67)

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  • I think it's important to note that the first type is being referred to as prototypical dictionary (as opposed to multilingual or translation dictionary). – Zack May 22 '19 at 16:43
  • @Zack I wanted to highlight the second snippet where the author argues 'dictionary' is generally associated with 'prototypical, monolingual, descriptive' dictionary. – Yiğit Sever May 22 '19 at 20:53

A monolingual dictionary is a dictionary with only one language in. A bilingual dictionary is one that has both the words in one language, and their divergent in another.

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  • This is not the answer I was looking for but seeing how my question text might be misleading I edited it. – Yiğit Sever May 20 '19 at 9:59

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