How to Become a Lexicographer?

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A Lexicographer means someone who writes and edits dictionaries. They are able to operate with both online and printed dictionaries. As the world grows more digital, this position is continuously changing. The human language continues to evolve and so does the career of a Lexicographer. While there are no specific requirements, a bachelor’s degree is a must to work as a Lexicographer. Good English language skills, love for words, and an analytic brain is a must for this. Read the full blog to know more about how to start your career as a Lexicographer and know more about lexicography!

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Who is a Lexicographer?

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A Lexicographer is a person who creates or compiles dictionaries, lists, lexicons, encyclopedias, and other similar works. By definition, Lexicographers are people who work on dictionaries, etymology and update existing databases. They gather information for dictionary entries, write the entries and descriptions themselves, and revise the work of others. They assist senior employees in the creation of the lexicon as a requirement for entry-level employment. 

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Practical Lexicography and Theoretical Lexicography are the two disciplines of lexicography:

  • The process of compiling, producing, and modifying dictionaries is known as Practical Lexicography.
  • Theoretical lexicography, also known as Metalexicography, is concerned with the study of language and vocabulary in relation to culture, as well as the development of the best approach for compiling dictionaries. The goal of theoretical lexicography is to create hypotheses about the semantic and structural relationships between words in dictionaries.

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Roles & Responsibilities of a Lexicographer

Lexicographers are responsible for writing the appropriate definitions for the right people. The roles and responsibilities of a Lexicographer are to:

  • Determine the dictionary’s size, which is determined by the number of words picked and the target audience.
  • Devise the most effective method for users to obtain the information contained in printed and electronic dictionaries.
  • Choose and arrange the dictionary’s components. Understand dictionary-style and mechanics, including popular symbols and abbreviations;
  • Determine the readership level for whom it is primarily intended, whether it is for elementary or advanced readers.
  • Be familiar with the many meanings of the same term in various settings;
  • Choose words and affixes for use as entries in the system.
  • Proofread and double-check their own and others’ material, as well as conduct editorial responsibilities.
  • Reconsider current entries and find and examine potential new additions based on facts and judgment, to name a few.

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Skills Required for a Career in Lexicography


Let’s look at the skills essential to become a successful Lexicographer:

Command of English: Lexicographers should have a strong command of English. Some possess a strong working knowledge of the relevant foreign language for bilingual lexicography, as well as an awareness of and sensitivity to translation issues. A practical understanding of the mechanics of grammar and the ability to use grammar correctly and identify common errors in editing is important.

Art of Simplifying Complex Things: They should be able to describe a complex thing in a few words, and English language Lexicographers should be able to recognize subtle differences in meanings, as well as an understanding of how English is used in other English-speaking countries and an understanding of the challenges of learning English.

Good Assessment Skills: They also have a keen eye for detail, which they use to discover mistakes and inconsistencies in presenting style.

Team Player: They can also learn and work within the publisher’s house style; teamwork and communication skills – while you must be able to concentrate and work well on your own, lexicography is essentially a collaborative process in which you exchange ideas and discuss problems with other editors on a regular basis, both formally and informally. 

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How to Become a Lexicographer: A Step-Wise Guide

Here is a step-wise guide on how to become a Lexicographer for language-lovers and wordsmiths!

Qualifications in Education

Candidates who want to work as Lexicographers should have a master’s or doctoral degree in English or a related language. They must seek further degrees, diplomas, or doctoral studies in Lexicography/ Linguistics to flourish in this area. Advanced degrees in linguistics, English, language translation or a language other than English will give you a massive head start in terms of knowledge, experience, and word flexibility.

Personal Attributes

A Lexicographer should be well-versed in the linguistic system. They should have a strong command of the English language, an interest in learning other languages, a strong reading habit, research and analytical abilities, teamwork and written communication skills, and efficient time management and organizational skills.

Lexicographers should have a strong understanding of grammatical and computational linguistics, the ability to use grammar correctly and identify instances of incorrect usage, the ability to work quickly and logically with complex information, the ability to recognize subtle differences in meanings, and the ability to express a complex idea in a few words.

Tech Savvy

Many dictionaries have now been digitized, and computers are far better at tracking and maintaining entries than paper, pencils, and human memory. As a result, Lexicographers should have computer skills, such as the capacity to utilize specialized database software for research, as well as inventiveness in search string development. They should be aware of new technologies that are emerging and how they may help the dictionary, such as online dictionaries, e-books, and so on. Because lexicography is really a collaborative activity, editors should constantly share ideas and discuss difficulties with one another, both formally and informally.

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Top Colleges in the World for Lexicography

Here are the top universities across the world that are known for language studies and linguistic programmes:

Stanford UniversityUnited States
University of CambridgeUnited Kingdom
The University of EdinburghUnited Kingdom
University of Massachusetts AmherstUnited States
University of Maryland, College ParkUnited States
The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)United States

Top Colleges in India to Study Lexicography

Several institutions in the nation provide lexicography courses in English, Hindi, Sanskrit, Punjabi, Tamil, and other languages. A bachelor’s degree in the relevant language is the minimal requirement for a Master’s degree programme. For admission to Master’s degree programmes, several institutes have their own entrance exams. Doctoral programmes are open to postgraduates, and they are regarded as an extra qualification for Lexicographers. Interested individuals can gain job experience by joining publishing firms after completing the course.

There are the top institutes in India that provide courses in lexicography and related areas:

Deccan College in PuneDepartment of Sanskrit and Lexicography
Punjabi University in Patiala Department of Linguistics and Punjabi Lexicography
University of MadrasSchool of Tamil and Dravidian Languages
Central University of KeralaDepartment of Linguistics
Bharathiar UniversityBharathiar University’s Department of Linguistics in Coimbatore

Also Read: Scope of Linguistics

Job Prospects & Career Opportunities in Lexicographer

Lexicographers work with a variety of publishing firms to produce dictionaries in print, online, or both formats. They can begin their career as an assistant editor or a junior editing assistant, and after acquiring experience in publishing, they can advance to the position of editor or Lexicographer. Since lexicography is a small field, senior and managing editor positions are few.

Some publishing firms provide on-the-job training for those who are new to this sector and want to create online dictionaries and e-books. This allows one to learn about different lexicography-related specialised software programmes and databases.

The work is dominantly office-based. Many opt for freelancing or part-time jobs. Some of them create their own publishing house or publication. Some may decide to work in the field, designing and providing training. Working on various sorts of reference books can help Lexicographers advance their careers. Here are some publications for Lexicographers:

  • Oxford University Press
  • Cambridge University Press
  • Macmillan
  • Harper Collins
  • Macquarie
  • Merriam-Webster
  • Equinox Publishing
  • Dictionary.com

Lexicographer Average Salary

 A Lexicographer working for a publishing firm may expect to earn between Rs.20,000 and Rs.25,000 per month as a beginning wage, which rises with years of experience. Many Lexicographers operate as freelancers, charging different amounts depending on the assignment. Those that create their own newspaper stand to make greater money.

Working Environment of a Lexicographer

The kind of environment in which a Lexicographer works differs depending on the type of work that they do. If they work as a freelancer, they generally work from home or from anyplace. If they work for a publication or an employer directly, they usually have an office where they can concentrate without being distracted by the outside world. Lexicographers must frequently meet with their clients or call them on the phone to convey their results or ask important questions. A Lexicographer must have a high level of attention to detail because it is necessary for the work.

Lexicography is a unique career choice for wordsmiths and language lovers. Students from diverse fields like education, language, science, social science, linguistics can opt for this career. Planning to study Linguistics? Reach out to our experts at Leverage Edu and we will guide you through the process of choosing the best course and university. Sign up for a free session with us today!

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