• Book Name: The BBI Combinatory Dictionary of English Third edition revised by Robert Ilson
  • Author: Robert Ilson
  • Pages: 567
  • Size: 5 MB

The BBI Combinatory Dictionary of English PDF

Preface to The BBI Combinatory Dictionary of English PDF

To use language you must be able to combine words with other words to form phrases and to combine words into grammatical patterns to form clauses and sentences. Traditionally, the combination of words with words has been called collocation and its result has been called phraseology.

Traditionally, the combination of words into grammatical patterns has been called colligation or complementation or construction (though in BBI it is called collocation, too) and its result has been called valency. A dictionary that provides both phraseology and valency is a dictionary of word combinations; or, in the terminology of Igor Melchuk, whose work has inspired us, a combinatory or combinatorial dictionary.

BBI is a combinatory dictionary. Consider the sentence ⟨I badly want to go there.⟩. It offers you the phraseological information that the verb want can be intensified by the word badly. It offers you also the valency information that the verb want can take the pattern to + infinitive. BBI offers such information about many types of word.

It tells you that since collocates with ever ⟨I married her and we’ve been happy ever since.⟩ and with long ⟨a custom long since abandoned⟩. It tells you that reveal, revelation, and let on can all take the pattern that + clause ⟨Don’t ¬reveal/let on¬ that you know the answer, or your revelation that you know the answer may disturb everyone.⟩ (where the occasional symbols ¬…/…¬ couple let on (two words) with reveal (one word) as alternatives). And so on. And so forth.

BBI offers that information by means of Codes (see our Introduction), Exemplification, and Discussion (as in Usage Notes). In BBI 3, examples may be repeated at more than one word to show a particularly close or memorable relation between the words exemplified. Thus we offer the example ⟨shock and awe⟩ at both awe and shock. And the famous phrase ⟨“With malice toward none; with charity for all” — Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address,” 1865⟩ appears as an example at both charity and malice.

That shows also how BBI 3 offers examples of real English attributed to their real authors. Such authentic attributed examples help to motivate language-learners — as they would most certainly motivate me !

Moreover, in BBI 3, examples may be transformed to exhibit the relation between the words exemplified. Thus we offer:-

vex v. …It vexes me greatly to read such things in the newspapers …

vexation n. …my great vexation to read such things in the newspapers …

vexed adj. …I’m very vexed to read such things in the newspapers …

vexing adj. …It is very vexing to read such things in the newspapers …

Furthermore, in BBI 3, examples may be combined to create mini-dialogues. Thus at account II v. we offer ⟨…“how do you account for the accident ?” “it can be partly accounted for by the bad weather.”⟩

The repetition, transformation, and combination of examples help to knit the many entries of BBI together and to enable people to adjust their use of words appropriately to contexts. The Usage Notes in BBI 3 allow a freer and more discursive explanation of language problems.

Thus the Usage Note at thanks not only offers the most typical responses to thanks and thank you but also assesses those responses for their currency (is a response used throughout the English-speaking world or only in a part of it ?) and contemporaneity (is a response up to date or old-fashioned?). For a work to help people to use a cosmopolitan language it is essential to specify where possible the range of acceptability of the items entered in the work.

Thus at thanks our Usage Note specifies that the response “You’re welcome” is nowadays Common English (despite its probable American origin) whereas the response “Don’t mention it” is somewhat old-fashioned British English. Similarly, at omit we say that though the collocation in the example ⟨she omitted his name from the list.⟩ is Common English, the colligation in the example ⟨he omitted to explain why he had been late.⟩ is chiefly British English rather than American English.

In fact, the treatment of American-British differences in BBI 3 is one of its most important features. Whence come the entries in BBI 3 ? They are several thousand of the items that Morton Benson, Evelyn Benson, and I have found of most value in using our native language, English, and in seeking equivalents for when using other languages. Whence come the collocations and colligations offered in BBI 3 about those entries ?

From the authors’ intuition, supported by their reading of and listening to contemporary English and by consultation with such valued colleagues as Ms Janet Whitcut and Dr John Kahn. Nowadays, our task is eased not only by the availability of corpuses of contemporary English (such as the British National Corpus) but also by the amazing resource of the Internet itself, which enables us to search in it for a word and find superb examples of that word in context. Nor should it be forgotten that an important source of new information in BBI 3 is, paradoxically, BBI 2, now that the computer allows material from an entry in BBI 2 to be added to other entries in BBI 3 where such material is appropriate.

But the items that occur to us or that we find are passed through the filter of standard lists of complementation patterns in such works as A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language by Randolph Quirk et al. and of collocations (as in the lists of Lexical Functions prepared by Igor Melchuk et al. for use in explanatory and combinatorial dictionaries of various languages).

So what users of BBI get is the product of native-speaker intuition expanded by our exposure to authentic English and then refined through the standard grids for phraseology and valency developed by outstanding scholars. The result is BBI. It was “highly recommended” by the English-Speaking Union in 1987. We hope that its present incarnation, 20 to 25% larger, will bring it into the 21st Century and provide the sort of information about English that its authors would like to have about the other languages we want to learn!

The BBI combinatory dictionary of english pdf.

Categories: English


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