A lexicographical minefield: treatment of nonstandard like in dictionaries

Alia Pugh, Raphael Salkie

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNConference contribution with ISSN or ISBNpeer-review


The English word like is extraordinarily multifunctional: its standard forms encompassnearly all parts of speech, and in nonstandard forms it can be a quotative, anapproximator, or several types of discourse marker (DM). These nonstandard forms cause issues for lexicographers, including: 1) they reflect differences between use of written and spoken informal English (Miller 2009); 2) DM like's use varies geographically (Miller and Weinert 1995); and 3) they are difficult to categorise grammatically. Further, some dictionaries' treatment of DM like imply that lack of semantic import equals total lack of import, a conclusion shown to be untrue by Underhill (1988), Romaine and Lange (1991), Miller and Weinert (1995), Andersen (2001), and others. Existing studies on like's informal usage, geographic variation, and pragmatic effect, as well as a study suggesting a new taxonomy of DM like (Pugh 2011) provide guidelines for a more coherent dictionary entry for like. Pugh (2011) distinguishes three functional groups of DM like: stance management, information management, and speech production management, each with distinct uses of the word. We propose that dictionary entries for like use information from its abundant literature to present this complex lexical item in a clearer and more informative way. The entire Proceedings of the 7th International Free Linguistics Conference are freely available at: http://www.flcgroup.net/wp-content/uploads/Proceedings-of-the-Free-Linguistics-Conference-2013.pdf
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 7th International Freelinguistics Conference
Place of PublicationHong Kong
PublisherThe Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Number of pages6
ISBN (Print)9789623677790
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014
EventProceedings of the 7th International Freelinguistics Conference - Hong Kong Polytechnic University, September 2013
Duration: 1 Jan 2014 → …


ConferenceProceedings of the 7th International Freelinguistics Conference
Period1/01/14 → …


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