YOLO – evolving language and lexicography hit the headlines once again….


As the online Oxford dictionary updates its entries with words such a YOLO, clickbait and bingewatch , lexicography once again hits the headlines .

If you’re an LEL student with an interest in evolving language, word-usage and definitions, then you may like to find out more about working as a lexicographer.

If the skill-list below sounds like you – or the ‘you’ you’d like to be – then maybe this is an area for you to explore. The skills related to English language will be a ‘given’  if you’re an LEL student, though you’ll need to consider some of the other skills carefully (IT, imagination, teamwork, organisation, quick-thinking and logical etc) – whether they describe you, you can evidence them, or are prepared to gain the experience to get that evidence.

Skills of a good lexicographer:

  • an excellent command of English
  • a practical understanding of the mechanics of grammar and the ability to use grammar correctly and identify instances of incorrect usage;
  • the ability to describe a complex thing in a few words, and for English language lexicographers, the ability to recognise subtle differences between meanings, an appreciation of how English is used in other English-speaking countries and an appreciation of the difficulties of learning English;
  • an excellent eye for detail, both for spotting errors and for identifying inconsistencies of presentation style;
  • flair and imagination – lexicography is not merely a mechanical process and you must be able to strike the right balance between explanation and concision;
  • the ability to learn and work within the publisher’s house style;
  • teamworking and communication skills – although you need to be able to concentrate and work well on your own, lexicography is an essentially collaborative process, and you exchange ideas and discuss problems continually with other editors, both formally and informally;
  • effective time management and organisational skills;
  • the ability to work rapidly and logically with complex information, concentrating for long periods whilst maintaining accuracy;
  • an aptitude for using and learning IT, in particular the ability to learn how to use specialist database software for research purposes, and creativity in developing search strings;
  • an awareness of emerging new technologies and how they can support the dictionary, e.g. online dictionaries, CD-ROMs, e-books, etc.

(source – Prospect Profile, Lexicographer)

Lexicography and publishing in general is just one area your degree could take you. Check out other options via your  PPLS case studies blog . Discover:

  • what other LEL grads have done
  • how they got started,
  • their advice to current students (eg: ‘ Networking” is really important – you need to be willing to go out and meet people, have conversations and follow them up.‘ – 2011 grad; ‘Don’t procrastinate!’ – 2013 grad )

and more …..

And for more ideas on getting started on your career thinking, use your dedicated  PPLS careers pages.

After all YOLO – so make the most of it !




This entry was posted in English language and linguistics, General interest and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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