Comparative Analysis of Cross-Referencing

In Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary and Ọkasụsụ Igbo

With A Special Reference to Synonym


Ndibe, Princess Ngozi

Nwafor Orizu College of Education, Nsugbe in affiliation with

University of Nigeria, Nsukka


Awuzie, Uzodimma Ferdinand

Girls' Secondary School, Uli


This study evaluates the comparative analysis of cross-referencing in the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary and Ọkasụsụ Igbo, the Igbo metalanguage dictionary with a special reference to synonym. The study argues that English-Igbo lexicographers do not treat cross-referencing and a synonym in accordance with the lexicographic principles, as it is done in English monolingual dictionaries. Survey and qualitative research methods were used to examine various cross-reference formats in the selected dictionaries as regards to synonyms. Since cross-reference is treated with regard to synonyms only, the study has discovered that there are problems of inadequate use of lexicographic principles in the development of cross-referencing in English-Igbo dictionaries, while English monolingual dictionaries adequately apply them. To this end, the dictionary users follow the dictionary entries with ease, because if principles are not adhered to, then the motive for using dictionaries may become void, but effective when properly applied. Lexicographers mix the translation equivalents of partial and complete synonyms, thus leads to semantic misappropriations. Moreover, the study discovered that English-Igbo dictionaries are not extensively prepared to take care of every type of user, and project Igbo language to well acceptable standards in dictionary writing. The paper therefore recommends that emerging lexicographers should endeavor to apply cross-reference in their dictionary project, and pay proper attention to both complete and partial synonyms. Mediostructure is better expressed in the front matter for easy access to the user.

Keywords: cross-reference, lexicography, dictionary and synonym


A cross-reference is an indicator that explicitly and/or implicitly guides the users between different places in the dictionary or from places in the dictionary to places outside the dictionary in order to show the way to the information sought, or to supplement or deepen the way to the information already found (Svensen, 2009:388). It is an indicator (symbol) that effectively guides the dictionary user while sourcing for information in a given dictionary entries.

A cross-reference is located in a certain place in the dictionary known as the cross-reference point and is directed towards and guides the dictionary user to another place regarded as the cross-reference address. Depending on the position of the cross-reference point in relation to the cross-reference address, and depending on the perspective adopted, several types of cross-reference can be distinguished. When a cross-reference guides the user from one place in a dictionary entry to another place within the same entry, it is referred to as an entry-internal cross-reference, or when it guides him to a place outside the entry but inside the lemma (i.e. the headword) list, it is entry-external cross-reference. Also, when a dictionary user is directed from one placed in a certain dictionary component (for instance, the lemma list or a dictionary grammar) towards another place within the same component, it is seen as component-internal cross-reference. But when is directed ffrom a place in a certain dictionary component towards a place outside the component question, but within the same dictionary, it is called component-external cross-reference. The dictionary structure connected with these indicators (cross-reference indicators) and their function is regarded as Cross-Reference Structure or Mediostructure. However, since the aim of cross-references is to guide the dictionary users to certain class of information within or outside the dictionary entries and components, the cross-reference structure may also be said to function as a kind of Access Structure. In print dictionaries, according to Svensen, (2009:389), cross-references performs trivial functions, which include; saving space, showing the way to the place where the information is to be found, and prevent loss of information. Hence, the role of dictionaries is to present the contents to readers in such a way that the readers will gain understanding of the words that they are looking up. That is why Pei (1996:69) describes a dictionary as "... a list of the words of a language usually in alphabetical order with their meaning, often their derivations, and occasionally their histories."

The importance and quality of dictionaries cannot be overemphasized as Gouws and Prinsloo (1999:46) indicate:

The first step towards the improvement of the lexicographic standard of dictionaries for African languages must be to do the groundwork right. Dictionaries are instruments of linguistic and communicative empowerment therefore lexicographers have to make sure that their intended target users receive an optimal linguistic presentation and aimed at the specific needs and reference skills of well defined users.

There are many types of dictionaries, such as monolingual, bilingual and trilingual dictionaries. What is of interest here is that cross-referencing is applied to all the above mentioned types of dictionaries. Cross-referencing in dictionaries is only applied to synonyms in order to avoid the repetition of translation equivalents. Crystal (1987:111) states that: "In twenty questions to ask when you buy a dictionary, question number 17 reads: Does it contain a list of synonyms? Question number 18 reads: Does it give useful cross-references to other related meaning?"

Cross-referencing is explained by Mphahlele (2001:26) as a lexicographic procedure, where a lexicographer refers the user from a reference position to a reference address. This is done by means of a reference entry and gives the user access to additional relevant lexicographer data.

From the above definition, it is evident that when synonyms are treated in a macrostructure of a dictionary, not all synonym pairs should be given comprehensive treatment. That is, only the lemma that has a high usage frequency should receive full lexicographic treatment. Crystal (1997:367) defines synonyms as follows:

A term used in semantics to refer to a major type sense relation between lexical items which have the same meanings are synonyms, and the relationship between them is one of synonymy. For two items to be synonyms it does not mean that they should be identical in meaning, that is, interchangeable in all contexts.

There are two types of synonyms: partial synonyms and complete synonyms. Partial synonyms are words that cannot replace each other in many contexts. For example, respect and honour. On the other hand, complete synonyms are words which can replace each other in many contexts. For example, speak and talk.

The study focuses on how cross-referencing is treated in the monolingual dictionary English dictionary known as Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary and the Igbo Metalanguage bilingual dictionary known as Ọkasụsụ Igbo.

Cross-referencing in many English-Igbo bilingual dictionaries has not been treated in a satisfactory manner. This seems to be the case because cross-referencing is not considered to be a crucial item by many lexicographers, as synonyms are not given full lexicographic treatment in English-Igbo dictionaries, whereas this type of treatment should be given to the most frequently used lexical items in Igbo language. For example:

Mbido 'beginning'

Mmalite 'beginning'

Ngwucha 'end'

Njedebe 'end'

Ebumnuche 'objective'

Mbunuche 'objective'

The comparative analysis of the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary and the Igbo Metalanguage bilingual dictionary known as Ọkasụsụ Igbo dictionaries, aims at assisting both dictionary users and lexicographers of Igbo language to realize the importance of cross-referencing in dictionaries, and which lexical items (words) should be awarded cross-referencing, particularly when dealing with synonyms.

Literature Review

There are a variety of scholars who attempted to study cross-referencing. Their works are relevant to this study, as therefore play an important role in this study. As far as the study of cross-referencing is concerned, much has not been done pertaining to its use in dictionaries. Many studies deal with synonyms and not cross-referencing per say. However, there are some authors whose works were useful to his study, namely Mphahlele (2001), Mojapelo (2004), Neilsen (1999), Gouws (1999), Atkins (1974).


A cross-reference is an indicator that explicitly and/or implicitly guides the users between different places in the dictionary or from places in the dictionary to places outside the dictionary in order to show the way to the information sought, or to supplement or deepen the way to the information already found (Svensen, 2009). It is an indicator (symbol) that effectively guides the dictionary user while sourcing for information in a given dictionary entries.

Atkins, (1974) sees cross-referencing as a practical guide for library retrieval that will indicate Cross Reference Index lists of subject headings drawn from six (6) sources. Each subject heading designates the terms used by each of the six sources, or it directs the reader to the most appropriate heading. The six sources are appropriate headings. The six sources are, namely (Atkins, 1974):

  • LC - The Library Congress subject headings are generally used in catalogues of college, university and research libraries.
  • SEARS - Subject headings are generally used in the catalogue of college, university and research libraries.
  • RG - The Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature is an index listing by subject.
  • NYT - The New York Times Index, described as a "condensed classified history of the word as recorded daily in the newspaper" is useful for current events and comments up to date statistical information.
  • PAIS - The Public Affairs Information Service Bulletin indexes by subject, and sometimes by author, current books, pamphlets, Periodicals articles, government documents and other material in the field of economic and public affairs.
  • BPI - The Business Periodical Index lists by subject articles from selected periodicals in the field of accounting, advertising, automation, banking, communication, finance and investments.

All the subject headings are supposed to be arranged alphabetically. The subject heading should be in the form of (1) a SEE reference, and (2) a USE reference.

Atkins, (1974) emphasizes the point that a SEE reference directs the reader to look under equivalent term because the chosen subject heading is not ordinarily used by the six sources examined above. Apartheid - SEE segregation. He continue to state that "a USE reference means that the chosen heading is used by one of the six sources and the researcher is directed to one or more main terms which identifies other comparable and related subject headings and indicates their appearance in particular sources". Anti-Semitism - Use discrimination.

The following is an example of the above-mentioned six sources as quoted from Atkins (1974), Gouws, (1999)states that, in the theory of mediostructure, a lexicographer cross-refers the dictionary user from a cross-reference position to a cross-reference address. This is done by means of cross-reference entry in which a cross reference marker is used, and it gives the user access to additional relevant lexicographic data.

Mojela, Mphahlele, Mogodi, and Selokela, (2006) assert that cross-reference relation is established between the cross-reference entry and cross reference address. In order to illustrate this, Gouws used an article that he obtained from Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary. The article in question deals with the lemma frog:

1: any various smooth-skinned we-footed largely aquatic tailless agile leaping amphibians. COMPARE toad.

From the example given above, the lemma toadis in the cross-reference position to the lemma frog.

Gouws further says that a variety of cross-reference markers are used in different dictionaries and often also in one dictionary. The lexicographer has to deal with three important types of cross-reference addresses namely: internal, external and dictionary external cross-reference addresses. These are explained below as follows:

The internal cross-reference address

An article that reflects an internal mediostructural relation assists the user to relate various micro structural entries employed in the same article with an internal cross-reference address. In such a case the mediostructural relation does not exceed the boundaries of the article. This type of cross-referencing is used to ascertain coherence between different microstructural entries in one article.

The external cross-reference address

The external cross-reference address exceeds the boundaries of the article. Two search domains can be identified for external cross-reference addresses. The external address can be located after elsewhere in the central list. Gouws highlights the fact that this mediostructural procedure links a text segment in a dictionary to a source outside a dictionary.

Another aspect that has received attention in Gouws's analysis is the 'back matter'. The 'back matter' of the dictionary contains a bibliography of sources where more information regarding the terminology treated in the dictionary can be found. Many articles contain condensed bibliographical references. This is a useful strategy because the user is guided by means of a complete reference to the specific source. The condensed bibliographical reference in the article is clearly indicated by the cross-reference marker "Bibl".

Cross-referencing consists of several elements, that is: the name of the reference which can either be the title or a general subject reference. He states that, if it is a chapter title or a heading, it should be in quotation marks. If it is the subject matter of the cross-referenced material, the reader should check it out. In that way, it may necessitate indicating the subject matter of the cross-referenced material. This article was of great help to this study.

Mphahlele, (2001) indicates that cross-referencing is a lexicographic procedure whereby a Lexicographer refers the user from a reference position to a reference address. This is done by means of reference entry, and gives the user access to additional relevant lexicographic data. According to Mphahlele, lexicographers should bear in mind that lexical items are part of the entire lexicon of a language. That is, the lemma should not be treated in isolation from other lexical items in the dictionary. To make sure that these lemmas are treated in co-ordination with each other, cross-referencing should be applied in dictionaries. He further states that the treatment of synonym lemmas shows the interaction between the related lemmas.

Mphahlele has used examples from Tsolwana's dictionary:

cry - ukulila, ukukhala

lament - ukulila, ukukhala

Mphahlele is of the view that these articles create a serious problem because usage information does not have paradigm, and there is also duplication in these articles. Mphahlele corrected it as follows:

cry - ukulila (umundwan) akukhala (sizzle)

lament - BONA (see) cry

A co-ordination between these articles is displayed and this can make a user to realise that those words of a language do not function in isolation. Mphahlele‟s study is closely linked to the current study and it serves as a good reference.

Mojapelo, (2006) in his work concentrates mostly on synonyms in Northern Sotho/English bilingual dictionaries. When treating cross-referencing, Mojapelo has used Kriel‟s (1997) bilingual English/Northern Sotho dictionary:

kefa - hat

kuane - hat

Mojapelo proceeds by stating that lexical items kefa and kuane are complete synonyms and can therefore replace each other in many contexts. The lexicographer did not use cross-referencing method to show that the two articles are related to each other. The above articles should have looked as follows: kefa - hat

kuane - SEE kefa

The above treatment indicates that the two lemmas (that is, kefa and kuane) are in a synonymous sense. Mojapelo‟s evaluation is linked to the current study as she has also treated synonyms in bilingual dictionaries.

Neilsen, (1999); according to Neilsen, Cross-reference is the usage of synonymous or related information in a document from elsewhere, which is usually within the same work. In making such connections between related or synonyms, this connection or cross-reference is often abbreviated as X-ref, xref and, in computer science, XR. It is used to verify claims made by an author or to link the claim to a related piece of work. SEE also denotes a cross-reference in an index.

Reference numbers and footnote marks are traditionally examples of in-context cross-referencing, whereas index and reference lists are examples of out-of-context cross-referencing. Out-of-context in particular relies on the traditional, manually-produced indexes utilizing citation or subject. This was the mainstream text retrieval procedure until the advent of CD-ROM in 1985. Anyhow, Neilsen is credited to have objected to the wide spectrum of text retrieval or cross-reference and preferred to narrow it to the idea of transclusion, or simply quotation, aiming for text patchwork rather than retrieval. Xref can be used as a prefix to indicate a cross-reference that joins two tables together via a primary key. Cross-reference can also be important for several reasons, particularly in printed and online dictionaries. They form a network structure of relations existing between dictionary internal as well as external and different parts of data. A distinction can be observed between use-related and function-related cross-references. Cross-references also assist in showing hierarchical relationships between terms as well as sequential relations.

Therefore, dictionary compilers are advised to take a broader approach to cross-references in dictionaries as they directly link with other structures in dictionaries. Neilsen‟s work is related to the current research even though it focuses much on the online dictionaries.

Steele, (2005) looked on how cross-reference can help you to learn Microsoft Office Word 2003 in 24 hours. He gave an example of writing a manual or another reference document says you may want to include cross-references within those texts to refer the reader from one part of your document to another, and the cross-reference should be typed manually. He is of the idea that if you type manually section headings, figure numbers, will change and they will require you to update all of your cross-references. That will need updating field and, in that way. Word can update them for you as needed. The guide to cross refer is stated as follows by Steele (2005):

Word by default inserts cross-reference fields as hyperlinks, so if you are editing a document that contains cross-reference fields you can Ctrl+click them to jump to their targets. NOTE: if you want to insert cross-references headings, you need to format your headings, with heading style or outlines levels first. 1. Click the spot where you want the cross-reference to go 2. Choose insert, reference, cross-reference to display cross-reference dialogue box.

Even though this work deals with the cross-reference in Microsoft Word 2003, a reference from a certain position to a reference address is shown, it may serve as a guide to this study.


Lexicography according to Svensen, 2009 is "an activity which consists in observing, collecting, selecting, analyzing an describing, in a dictionary, a number of lexical items (words, word elements and word combinations) belonging to one or more languages".

Planning a dictionary

Planning a dictionary according to Field, 2014 comprises of the following:

•Project plan

-Identifying the demand

-The time and funding needed

•Dictionary plan

Having considered the following questions;

Which lemmas are to be included?

Which information types shall be present?

Should make following plans;

-Preliminary plan

-Pilot study

-Revised plan

-Final plan

Dictionary typology and purpose

•What is the genuine purpose of the dictionary?



Dictionary types


(From word to concept/from concept to word)







•Learner's dictionary

•School dictionary

•Comprehensive dictionary

Function and organisation



•Intended users: native-speaker dictionary, foreign learner's dictionary

Format of presentation

Establish the principles for the structure in terms of;

-Megastructure: relations and order of the front and back matter and the lemma sign list

-Macrostructure: the order of and relation between the lemma signs in the lemma sign list

-Microstructure: the order and relation between the information types given for each lemma.


One of the aim of this paper is to discuss how cross-referencing can be used to indicate synonyms. Given that synonyms are words that have the same meaning, and this meaning relation should be indicated in dictionaries and they have to be treated in relation to one another, the exposition based on cross-referencing regarding complete synonyms, partial synonyms. Synonyms are words that have the same meaning and this meaning relation should be indicated in dictionaries. According to Crystal (1987:20) synonym is:

A term used in semantics to refer to a major type of sense relation between lexical items which have the same meanings are synonyms, and the relationship between them is synonymy. For two items to be synonyms, it does not mean that they should be identical in meaning i.e. interchangeable in all contexts, and with identical connotations, this unlikely possibility is sometimes referred to as total synonym.

Types of synonyms

There are types of synonyms but, in this study, only complete and partial synonyms are dealt with.

Complete synonyms are lemma that can replace each other in many contexts. In this regard, Crystal (1999:340) states that "... it does not mean that they should be identical in meaning, or interchangeable in all context, - this unlikely possibility is sometimes referred to as total synonymy. One agrees with Crystal because most of the synonyms are close enough in their meaning to allow a choice to be made between them in some contexts, without there being any difference in the meaning of the sentence as a whole. Examples;

Full, entire, whole

All, gross, total

Intensive, exhaustive, thorough

Unlimited, unbounded, thoroughgoing, etc.

In Igbo, we have;

Mmechi, ngwucha, njedebe

Mbido, mmalite, isi mbido

According to the lexicographic theory, with special reference to complete synonyms, synonyms that can replace each other in many contexts, and the lemmas that are most frequently used should be given full lexicographic treatment, while the less frequently used ones receive cross-reference to the most frequently used, by means of the SEE/LEE reference marker.

Partial synonyms are synonyms that cannot replace each other in many contexts. According Mojapelo (2006:58), partial synonyms are: "The synonyms with partial identical meaning and can replace each other in some contexts." Partial synonyms do not share every aspect of their respective meanings; therefore, they cannot be treated like complete synonyms. Examples are;

Deceased, dead

Indicate, show

Beautiful, good

Cheerful, happy

In Igbo, we have;

Nsogbu, ogbaaghara

Isiike, anuanu

Oganiihu, mmepe

Cross-reference with regard to complete synonyms

Cross-reference is used to make reference to complete synonyms as in;

He killed the snake with matchet


He killed the snake with cutlass

In Igbo, we have;

'o ji okpiri gbu agwo'.


'O ji osisi gbu agwọ'

According to the theory of lexicography, complete synonyms cannot be all given full lexicographic treatment; only the most frequently used lemma should be awarded full lexicographic treatment and the less frequently used lemma be given cross-referencing (Modiba, 2011). He pointed the following as synonyms pair in the work of Mojela, Mphahlele, Mogodi, and Selokela, (2007) titled Pukuntšu Dictionary:

definition - tlhalošo

explanation - tlhalošo

bodiidi - poverty

bohloki - poverty

predict - akanya

propose - akanya

action - kgato/legato

step - kgato/legato

a. He killed a lion with an assegai.

'O bolaile tau ka lerumo'.

b. He killed a lion with a spear.

'O bolaile tau ka lerumo'.

The above sentences are similar and the two lemmas assegai and spear can be used interchangeably without changing the meaning. As a result, a reference entry was supposed to have been given to the less frequently used lemma, which is assegai, and the full lexicographic treatment be given to the lemma spear, the reference marker for complete synonyms is SEE/BONA.

Cross-referencing with regard to partial synonyms

According to lexicographic theory concerning partial synonyms, a lemma that has more or many translation equivalents should receive cross-referencing from the one with fewer equivalents. They all receive full lexicographic treatment and a semicolon (;) is used with the translation equivalents, as pointed out by Modiba, 2011:

The following partial synonyms are treated:

deceased - mohu, hwilego, hlokofetše

dead - mohu, hlokofetše

degree - kgato, boemo

step - kgato, legato, gata

worship - rapela, direla

pray - rapela

The above examples are all regarded as partial synonyms but Prinsloo et al, (1999) do not give some lemmas suitable treatment. This is the case because others were treated like complete synonyms, whereas their meanings or translation equivalents cannot replace each other in many contexts. The lemma that has more translation equivalents should be awarded cross-referencing that is opposite to the complete synonyms.

In example deceasedand dead:

A dead animal

Phoofolo ye e hwilego

A deceased animal

Phoofolo ye e hlokofetšego

The above sentences are not the same, and the second one does not make sense at all. Therefore, the lexical items dead and deceased have been replaced in the correct synonym pair up partial synonyms. The translation equivalents that maintain a relation of absolute equivalence is mohu. In other words, the article of the lemma deceased should receive cross-referencing to dead, because the lemma deceased has more translation equivalents.

Many authors have attempted to write about cross-referencing but not in dictionaries. They have treated mostly computer studies which is a bit different to the current studies. The four authors whose works were of great importance to the current study are namely, Neilsen, Mphahlele Mojapelo and Gouws, because they have treated cross-referencing in dictionaries. Mojapelo and Mphahlele‟ work is closely related to the current research and helped to complete this research.


Since in Igbo language dictionaries, cross-referencing is dealt with in an unsatisfactory manner, it is thus vital that critical discourse be utilized in this study. The qualitative and survey research methods were used in this study as it gives clearer understanding of the topic under discussion. The researchers used the following methods to gather relevant information about cross-referencing in Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary and the Igbo Metalanguage bilingual dictionary known as kasụsụ Igbo. This research method provided the researcher with second-hand information as it had been gathered by other scholars. The researchers selected the information needed in order to validate his study. The information was obtained from the dictionaries in review and works of earlier researchers, journals, theses, dissertations, books and the internet.

Data Presentation and Analysis

Various data from Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary and the Igbo Metalanguage dictionary known as Ọkasụsụ Igbo as regards to cross-references and synonyms were presented, analysed, and evaluated.

Cross-referencing and synonyms in Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

Evaluation of explicit and implicit cross-references

Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary has a lot of cross-reference indicators as it regards the synonyms. Such indicators include symbols, different font styles, big letters (all caps), abbreviations, etc. cross-reference usage uses abbreviations, symbols and caps to show semantic relationships.

Data 1

Data showing cross-references and synonyms as adapted from Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary, Hornby, (2005)

  • noun 1 the part of the body below the chest that contains the stomach, BOWELS, etc. 2 the end part of an insect's body that is attached to its THORAX - picture PAGE R21
  • A-bomb noun = ATOM BOMB
  • A,bominable 'Snowman noun = YETI
  • headset: HEADPHONES, often with a connected MICROPHONE
  • volcano: a mountain with a crater (= large opening)
  • defence (AmE) DEFENSE

The above examples of cross-referencing uses symbols and capitalization with different font style to make reference to the headword. In the example (a), a symbol was used to refer to where the picture of abdomen can be seen in page R21. Example (b) above used symbol = and caps with different font style 'ATOM BOMB' to refer to A-bomb.

Data 2

Data showing cross-reference indicating synonyms with the abbreviation, SYN

  • about adv., prep., adj.

adv. 1 a little more or less than; a little before or after


  • INFORMATION 3 to take sth into the mind and learn or understand it SYN TAKE IN
  • INTEREST SB 4 to interest sb very much so that they pay no attention to anything else SYN ENGROSS
  • care noun, verb

verb PHR V 'care for sb 1 to look after sb who is sick, very old, very young, etc. SYN TAKE CARE OF

  • adj 1 (of disease) easily caught by one person from another SYN INFECTIOUS 2 (of emotion or a mood) passing quickly from one person to another SYN INFECTIOUS
  • cat.egor.ize (BrE also -ise) verb [VN] ̴ sb/sth (as sth) to put people or things into groups according to what type they are. SYN CLASSFY

In the above examples of data, it is deduced that the dictionary uses various abbreviations such as SYN to indicate synonyms. This is a good indication for referencing in lexicographic work.

Data 3

Data showing synonyms treated as outside matter

  • cert. abbr. 1 CERTIFICATE 2 CERTIFIED



bound ٠ sure ۰ assured

These are all words describing sth that will definitely happen or is definitely true.



fool ۰ deceive ۰ betray ۰ take in ۰ trick ٠ con

these words all mean to make sb believe sth that is not true, especially in order to get what you want.



competitive ۰ budget ٠ affordable ۰ reasonable ٠ inexpensive

These words all describe a product or service that costs little money or less money than you expected.



bright ۰ cheery ٠ jolly ۰ merry ٠ in a good mood

All these words describe people who feel happy and show this in their behavior.



favourite ۰ preference ٠ selection ۰ pick

These are all words for a person or thing that is chosen, or that is liked more than others.



select ٠ pick ٠ opt ۰ go for ٠ single out

These words all mean to decide which thing or person you want out of the ones that are available. (all the examples were adapted from Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary (Hornby, 2005)

The above data showed the various groups of words that serve as synonym to the headwords. In this case, synonyms were treated with a great sense of concern regarding dictionary making, though partial and complete synonyms were treated together without indicating that this is partial synonym or this is complete synonym.

Cross-referencing in Igbo metalanguage 'kasụsụ Igbo'

Data showing cross-references in 'kasụsụ' using symbols

Data 4

In making reference to the spelling rules, the dictionary 'Ọkasụsụ Igbo' adopted the following examples:

· nile instead of niile (all)

nani " of naanị (only)

ndewo " of ndeewo (how's it)

mazi " of maazị (Mr.)

nwanyi " of nwaanyị (woman, wife)

unyahu " of ụnyaahụ (yesterday)

· nwaada and not nwa-ada or nwa ada (eldest daughter)

nwanne " " nwa-nne or nwa nne (brother)

nwanna " " nwa-nna or nwa nna (half brother, kinsman)

umunne " " umu-nne or ụmụ nne (brothers)

oriaku " " ori-aku or ori aku (wife)

dinta " " di-nta or di nta (hunter)

diji " " di-ji or di ji (farmer)

nwadiala " " nwa-di-ala (son of the soil)

(as adapted from 'Ọkasụsụ Igbo, 1985)

The above examples use symbols as a reference indicator to point to the actual item(s) the writers referring to. It is observed that there different ways of writing a particular word in Igbo but the writer is making reference to a particular form. Based on the above items, a school of thought known as Society for Promoting Igbo Language and Culture (SPILC) has now favoured the other way round and this is why such forms are appearing in Igbo texts. It is hoped that this may be reappraised in the relative merits some time in future.

Data 5

· Suffixes

= ta = te as in weta or wete (bring to)

buta or bute (carry to)

gota or gote (buy for)

zita or zite (send to )

But only = ta as in bata (come into)

kpota (bring to)

zụta (buy for)

mịta (suck into)

= ba/ = be) the inceptive 'begin to (and continue)

= wa/ = we)

· Grammar

Parts of speech - nkejiasụsụ

Noun - mkpọaha

Pronoun - nnọchiaha

Adjective - nkọwaaha

Verb - ngwaa

Proper noun - ahaaka

Common noun - ahaizugbe

Conjunction - njikọ

Adverb - nkwuwa

Preposition - mbuụzọ

Participle - nkọwangwaa

Gender - genda

Masculine - oke

Feminine - nwunye

Sound - ụda

(Extracted from 'Ọkasụsụ Igbo, 1985)

In the examples (c) and (d) above, it is seen how symbols function to be a cross-reference indicator to refer to the morphological and semantic relationships existing amongst Igbo lexical items.

Data showing cross-referencing and synonyms in 'kasụsụ Igbo'

Data 6

· Abbreviation - ndebiri; nkwubiri; mkpobiri

Abortion - ekwomekwo; okwukwo

Abridgement - egbumnkenke; mgbubi; nkenke nkenke

Acceptability - nnabata; ịnabata

Abuse - mkparị; mkporị

Acclaim - iwu ewu; ụzụ

Acclamation - owuwu; ụzụ

Ambiguity - mputara ukwu; njuanya; mputampki

Pleasure - ọṅụ; aṅulị; ahụofofo

Adjunct - mgbakwunyere; ọdụahiri

Anticlimax - mgbuda; mwetu

· Rape = ndịna; manye; omaburu

Miss = ada; nwada

Madam = odoziakụ; oriakụ

Mrs. = oriakụ; odoziakụ

The above examples show how a cross-reference symbol (=) is used to indicate synonyms in Igbo language as it is adapted from 'Ọkasụsụ Igbo in 1985. The synonyms were just written besides each other without making proper indications that this is synonymous with this and so on. Based on this, it is clear that the Igbo dictionaries/glossaries do not observe the principle of cross-referencing and synonyms in acceptable manner based on the lexicographic principles and practice.

In summary based on the data presented and analysis made, foreign (i.e. English dictionaries are far better than their local counterparts, Igbo dictionaries. This is because, they (foreign dictionaries) are more comprehensive, have great deal of lexicographic theories and practice and follows a global standard in dealing with lemma list and outside matter. Igbo dictionaries are less comprehensive, poorly produced and do not have good deal of lexicographic theories and practice, especially as it regards cross-referencing and synonyms.

Summary and conclusion


Summarily, the paper on the comparative analysis of cross-reference in Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary and 'Ọkasụsụ Igbo' - Igbo metalanguage has so far in four chapters examined the essence and relevance of the topic. Chapter one looked into the introduction/background of the study, statement of the problem, objective and significance of the study. The second chapter reviewed various literature related to the topic on dictionary plan, cross-reference, lexicographic principles and synonyms. While chapter three outlined the methodology adopted in the research work, the fourth chapter dealt with data presentation and analysis. The data presented were adapted from the selected dictionaries, and the analysis was made in comparison with the data collated. Various findings were made regarding cross-referencing and synonyms in the both selected foreign and local dictionaries. While the foreign dictionaries observe greatly the practice of dictionary-make, with regards to cross-referencing and synonyms, local Igbo dictionaries (glossaries) do not effectively observe these rules and practice. In fact, what we refer to as Igbo dictionaries are/or could be classified as glossaries, that is collection of Igbo words, though not comprehensive.


Having examined and evaluated the lexicographic principles of cross-referencing in dictionary-making using the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary and 'Ọkasụsụ Igbo' - Igbo metalanguage, the researcher has made the following recommendations and conclusion:

  • Dictionaries that do not comply with principles and theories of lexicography should not be approved and adopted.
  • Theories related to synonyms and cross-references are included in the front matter or back matter of the dictionaries to remind lexicographers;
  • Cross-referencing is included in school or learner's dictionaries;
  • For a dictionary to be approved, there should also be an international standardized number of words to be in the dictionary; and
  • Lexicography study is approved and taught at high schools.

It is evident that the Igbo-English bilingual dictionaries are not treated in a correct and satisfactory manner. Therefore, the dictionaries need to be revised, and necessary corrections and amendments must be done in these dictionaries for better today and tomorrow. Using words and following sound theories and practice of dictionary-making to uplift their standards to the next level, for this will also improve the correct and effective language usage in our societies.


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