Culture, power, dictionaries: What lexicography reveals about cultural objects

Semiotica 2014 (198):261-269 (2014)
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Abstract

The genealogy of lexicography represents an ideal standpoint to reveal how sign-making practices may shape cultural objects. In this paper I discuss the revolution that lexicography undertook during the nineteenth century, showing why this process required the availability of a specific set of concepts, and then how it led up to the emergence of new social techniques, to the coming into being of a new kind of people, and to the introduction of new practices of sign-manipulation. Finally, I confront the historical development of lexicography with the project of the dictionary of Newspeak that Orwell envisioned in 1984.

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