Europan survey on dictionary use

In May 2017, we have conducted a survey that aimed to explore the attitude of language users towards general monolingual dictionaries. In the survey the users were asked about the dictionaries they use and the situations in which they use them. Additionally, the part specific to Slovenia focused on the expectations the users have from monolingual dictionaries, their experience with dictionaries, and invites suggestions for improvements. We wanted those that do not use the dictionaries to also fill out the survey, as the identification of reasons for not using dictionaries is also important for further development of lexicographic products. The survey was innovative as it specifically aimed to include different user groups (in terms of using dictionaries in education, professional settings, or free time), thus overcoming traditional views that it is possible to successfully develop “general” dictionaries for “general” users.

The survey was international: it was conducted in 29 countries and in 26 languages; it involved 58 researchers from all over Europe. The survey was conducted with the support of European network for e-lexicography (ENeL), the idea for the survey coming from the Centre for Language Resources and Technologies at the University of Ljubljana, and Centre for Applied Linguistics at Trojina Institute. The monograph Slovar sodobne slovenščine: problemi in rešitve had already pointed out the acute lack of empirical studies on the habits, needs and abilities of dictionary users, as well as on the language problems because of which the users decide to use dictionaries. The aforementioned Slovenian institutions have decided to systematically gather missing data and use the results in the development of user-friendly language resources. This international survey, which is the first dictionary use study of such scope, therefore complemented and continued institutions’ existing research activities.