The Dickens Lexicon and its Practical Use for Linguistic Research

poster / demo / art installation
  1. 1. Masahiro Hori

    Kumamoto Gakuen University

  2. 2. Osamu Imahayashi

    Hiroshima University

  3. 3. Tomoji Tabata

    University of Osaka

  4. 4. Miyuki Nishio

    Kinki University

Work text
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The Dickens Lexicon and its
Practical Use for Linguistic
Hori, Masahiro
Kumamoto Gakuen University
Imahayashi, Osamu
Hiroshima University
Tabata, Tomoji
Osaka University
Nishio, Miyuki
Kinki University
It was not until the beginning of World War
II that Dr. Tadao Yamamoto first established
a plan for the compilation of the
in his mind; the earliest plan of which
was suggested in
Studies in English Literature
(Vol. XIII, No. 3, 1943). As the war situation
turned progressively worse, the completion of
the Lexicon was left to future efforts. He decided,
however, to make an "Introduction" to it in
the early spring of 1944, and in the same
year presented it as a doctoral thesis to the
University of Tokyo under the title of
and System of the Language of Dickens: An
Introduction to A Dickens Lexicon
, for which
he obtained the degree of Doctor of Literature
from the University in 1946. The dissertation
was first published in 1950 by Kansai University
Press through the generous efforts of the late
Professor Jiichi Hattori at Kansai University,
and with financial support from the English
Philological Society of Kansai University. In
1953 he was awarded the Japan Academy Prize
for this book. The second edition and "An index
to Tadao Yamamoto’s
Growth and system of
the Language of Dickens
: With supplementary
notes & corrections" were published separately
by the same press in 1952. The third revised
edition was published by Keisuisha Publishing
Company in 2003.
In 1948 Dr. Yamamoto organised the first
joint research for the compilation of
Dickens Lexicon
, which was granted a
Government Subsidy for Scientific Research by
the Department of Education for 1948. The
members of the joint research mainly consisted
of his pupils in Hiroshima University of
Literature and Science. The members chose one
of Dickens’ works and collected the materials for
. The participants and their selected
works are as follows:
Tadao Yamamoto
Oliver Twist
Michio Masui
Bleak House
Chiaki Higashida
A Tale of Two Cities
Tamotsu Kurose
Christmas Books
Hiroshige Yoshida
Nicholas Nickleby
Masami Tanabe
Old Curiosity Shop
After he moved to Osaka Women’s University
in 1952, Yamamoto organised the second joint
research for the compilation of the
; the members of which included Michio
Masui, Chiaki Higashida, Tamotsu Kurose,
Haruo Kouzu, Yasuo Yoshida, Tadahisa Goto,
Jun Matsumoto, Tamotsu Matsunami, Hideo
Hirooka, and Michio Kawai. The joint research
was granted a Subsidy for Government Scientific
Research by the Department of Education for
1952. The process and result of it were reported
(1954: 438-9) as follows:
As a preliminary work for the compilation of
Dickens Lexicon
we aimed at establishing
the working principles of selecting materials
for our research. For this purpose each of the
members chose one of Dickens’ writings from
which necessary materials should be extracted.
It was desired that each participant should at
the outset prepare explanatory notes to the
work chosen and as the next step offer slips of
quotations under separate items with comments
if necessary.
Sketches by Boz
Pickwick Papers
Christmas Carol
Martin Chuzzlewit
Cricket on the Hearth
Dombey and Son
David Copperfield
A Tale of Two Cities
Great Expectations
Separately the present writer has prepared a
collection of detailed notes to
Oliver Twist

with which materials chosen out of the above
works are to be collated.
Slips collected amount to 6504, from which 2915
have been sifted and adopted for the present
research. They may be roughly classified as
Names and subjects
Slang and dialects
Quotations and allusions
Expressions coming from some definite
situations or surroundings
Phrasal expressions
Exclamations, asseverations, swearing, &c.
Intensive expressions
Precise and energetic expressions
Those with bodily names
Words and phrases particularly collated
with the notes to Oliver Twist
Sum total
In Yamamoto’s conclusion, he commented on
the limitations and difficulties of this joint
research as follows:
"... as a joint work ours for this time has
remained at the very tentative stage. It has
taught us that the desideratum is a perfect team-
work with sufficient preparation and training
that cost us an enormous amount of time
and labour. With all our efforts, however, we
must admit that we continually suffer from
the considerable limitation of our knowledge,
and under the present conditions there are
insurmountable difficulties in having access to
each and every requisite source of information.
It would indeed be a consummation devoutly to
be wished if we could come directly in touch,
not exclusively through the narrow channel of
written sources now at our disposal, with all
things that have conspired to create Dickens and
his language." (451)
The research team was, however, broken up,
and a new downsized one was organised.
Its members were Chiaki Higashida, Yasuo
Yoshida, Jun Matsumoto, and Shigekiyo
Kawahara. The result was published in
no Buntai
Dickens’ Style
in English) from
Nan’un-do in 1960, but this joint research did
not bear fruit either. From that time Yamamoto
began to collect the materials for the
once again from
Pickwick Papers
all by
himself, but unfortunately on the 28th of July in
1991, he died without seeing it accomplished.
This poster session is an interim report on
Dickens Lexicon
project, which was newly
organized in 1998 by a research group of twenty
scholars whose ultimate aim has been to compile
Dickens Lexicon
from approximately 60,000
cards, which Dr. Tadao Yamamoto (1904-91)
elaborately drew up and left to us. The Dickens
Lexicon is expected to be released as the
"Dickens Lexicon Online" on an Internet website
with a multifunctional search engine, in the
near future. This poster session provides an
introduction to the
Dickens Lexicon
including its practical use for research.
Dickens Lexicon
is designed as a web-
based reference resource. Users will be able to
search and retrieve lexical data (an idiom, its
word class, definition, source, and quotation),
stored in the original card database of
approximately 60,000 indexed entries without
installing extra software (apart from a web
browser) on their computers. The lexicon will
also be implemented with a multifunctional
information retrieval system. In addition to
the indexed entries, the lexicon will make it
possible to retrieve frequency information on
lexical items (from single words to phrases,
including multi-word units) drawing upon the
full corpus of Dickens’ texts and an additional
set of major 18th and 19th century fictional
texts. A range of functions such as concordance
display, sort capability, and distribution chart
will be available in a user-friendly interface.
Therefore, a close scrutiny of idioms appearing
in the Dickens Lexicon with a multifunctional
information retrieval system will not only make
us aware of the ways idioms provided an
important characteristic in Dickens’ usage of
English, compared with those in other major
18th and 19th century fictional texts, but will
also provide insights into the characteristic
structure of idiomaticity in the English language
as well.
Yamamoto, Tadao
(1950 [2003]).
and System of the Language of Dickens: An
Introduction to A Dickens Lexicon.
Japan: Keisuisha.

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Conference Info


ADHO - 2010
"Cultural expression, old and new"

Hosted at King's College London

London, England, United Kingdom

July 7, 2010 - July 10, 2010

142 works by 295 authors indexed

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Conference website:

Series: ADHO (5)

Organizers: ADHO

  • Keywords: None
  • Language: English
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