Typology of business dictionaries

Although the typology regarding single- and multi-field lexicography discussed for specialized lexicography also applies to the domain of business lexicography, some features are specific to the latter. Several subfields of business are simultaneously culture-dependent and international because they are torn between local cultural traditions and the forces of globalization (Fuertes-Olivera 2009b: 164). Regional regulations do not necessarily coincide with international standards, such as the International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS). By contrast, business as a subject field can be regarded as culture-independent given its markedly quantitative nature. It relies strongly on mathematical and statistical concepts (Hashimzade, Myles and

Myles 2014: 14) which are frequently equivalent across cultures. It is highly important to consider this ambivalent nature of the field when compiling a business dictionary.

Those opposing forces - global scope and culture-independence on the one hand, national scope and culture-dependence on the other - are also reflected in the different perspectives on business dictionaries. Some approaches encourage international, multi-field business dictionaries (Welch and Merritt 1996); others promote the use of subfield dictionaries (Fuertes-Olivera 2009b: 166). Given the size of most subject fields, multi-field dictionaries are not to be recommended even if they are rather popular in economics (Bergenholtz and Tarp 1995: 59). Although such resources claim to span several fields, space and readability constraints generally preclude proper coverage of any one of them. Even in an electronic format, where space is not an issue, it is still easy to overwhelm the user with too much information.

As it is the creators of a business dictionary that decide on its scope and level of granularity, these choices are subjective and should be documented, which is often not the case in practice. For instance, Womack compares five dictionaries of finance and investment which call themselves business dictionaries. Their content ranges from the insider language of Wall Street (Wall Street Words) and financial equations (1001 Financial Words You Need to Know) to detailed etymological information (Webster’s New World Finance and Investment Dictionary), the inclusion of social- science concepts (The Economist Dictionary of Business) and slang terms (The Ultimate Business Dictionary) (Womack 2005). The intended function and scope of each of those dictionaries is poorly documented and their typological features are mixed, with partial diachronic or etymological information being attached to some articles in an unsystematic manner.

In contrast to a business dictionary, a corporate dictionary depends on the culture of the organization concerned and can exist only in relation to the corporation and to its principles, strategies, and identity, that is, to its needs. Thus, such a dictionary is inevitably prescriptive as it must account for the needs of the corporation while still facilitating internal and external communication. Corporate dictionaries are synchronic, documenting the organization’s language at a given moment in time. Given the global character of most corporations, they are frequently multilingual, covering English, as the main language across the organization, and other languages spoken locally (Leroyer 2007). Encyclopedic and linguistic types of information are reduced to a minimum or not covered at all.

Product-line or group dictionaries are very simple from a lexicographic point of view, consisting often in mere alphabetical listings of headwords and their equivalents in other languages (Bergenholtz and Tarp 1995: 73). The selection of headwords is determined by the product line or group, so the dictionary does not include general articles on, for example, an engine, but only on the specific engine(s) produced by the company. Such dictionaries provide so little information that they could not exist independent of the corporation. They specifically target a well-informed user group with a high level of expertise on the product. Any other users would certainly require at least a definition. In fact, adding definitions to such dictionaries would make them usable for external, e.g., marketing, purposes.

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