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Dictionaries in Focus - 10th EFNIL Conference in Budapest

Press release in Hungarian Newspapers (Original article in Hungarian:

An international conference entitles Lexical challenges in Multilingual Europe was held in Budapest concerning the different methods of dictionary making, the scientific background behind this and the possible forms of dictionaries’ appearances and usability. The conference was co- organized by the Research Institute for Linguistics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and the European Federation of National Institutions for Language (EFNIL).

“Since ancient times, the collection of a language’s words in a list or wordbook has been an important means to stabilize it and to establish and codify a standard variety. A dictionary was, therefore, often considered as a linguistic treasure, a metaphor still used, for instance, for the modern Tresor de la langue française.”- said Gerhard Stickel, President of EFNIL in his opening speech stressing the importance of the dictionaries. According to him, multilingual Europe is a cultural value, and the Union should give more support for the development of modern bilingual and multilingual dictionaries in all appropriate media as tools for Europeans to cope with the diversity of languages and to preserve linguistic and cultural wealth.

All the member states of the European Union have institutions whose role includes the monitoring the official language or languages of their country, advising on language use, or developing language policy. The European Federation of National Institutions for Language provides a forum for these institutions to exchange information about their work and to gather and publish information about language use and language policy within the European Union. The EFNIL was established in Stockholm on 14 October 2003 and has 37 member institutions from 30 different countries all over Europe. Since 2010, the Research Institute for Linguistics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences has hosted the General Secretariat of the EFNIL and Tamás Váradi, deputy director of the Institute has been appointed as General Secretary.

The Federation holds its annual conference and General Assembly each autumn. The conference is a thematic meeting, in which the delegates discuss one or more major topics concerning language planning and policy with invited internationally well-known keynote speakers. In the past few years conferences have brought forth issues relating to minority and regional languages, language technologies and the role of language education in creating a multilingual Europe, amongst other language related issues. This year in Budapest, the tenth EFNIL conference investigated the different ways in which people access lexical information – both in their own language and in other languages – and how governments, language institutions, publishers and others go about the business of compiling and disseminating this lexical information.

Linguists agreed that paper-based and online bi- and multilingual forms of dictionaries were both necessary. “Constantly changing languages require compilation of systematically updated collections of our lexical knowledge, which could be made available through the increasingly widespread electronic media” –said István Kenesei, director of RILHAS. Lexicographers receive their necessary technical means from IT experts but despite the accelerating technical developments and the results of these, thanks to the symbiosis of the two scientific disciplines, meticulous scientific work is essential in the case of examining certain texts to define the precise meaning of words and to analyze their relationship between each other.

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