Macmillan English Dictionary: The End of Print?
AbstractThis paper reports on the Macmillan English Dictionary (MED) and its transition from printed book to digital-only resource. The background to this decision is explained in terms of changes both in technology and in dictionary-users’ behaviour: was this move inevitable, and will other dictionary publishers follow (sooner or later)? The possible downsides of abandoning print are discussed, alongside the advantages of digital media. As well as offering great opportunities (many still unexplored), being online also creates new demands. With easy access to numerous free reference sites, users searching for lexical information have a huge variety of options. Consequently, publishers are under pressure to continually broaden the range of content they supply, to improve the quality of the design and “user experience”, and above all to stay abreast of language change. And, it will be shown, there is much more to keeping a dictionary up to date than simply adding new words as they emerge. The imperative of moving to digital has generated a good deal of turbulence in the world of dictionary publishing (especially for commercial publishers who cannot run at a loss), and there is considerable uncertainty around the long-term survival of “the dictionary” as the autonomous object we are all familiar with. But humans’ communicative needs should ensure a continued demand for high-quality lexical data – even if this data is delivered and accessed in new and different ways.
Copyright (c) 2014 Michael Rundell
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