This paper proposes an alternative to questionnaire surveys and other methods of investigating dictionary user expectations, wants and needs: the content analysis of dictionary-related queries on online general-purpose Q&A sites. Web postings are anonymous and are not associated with any particular institution or dictionary developer, so they tend to reflect the ordinary concerns of users looking for unbiased practical answers in authentic contexts of dictionary use. Analysis of a random sample of approximately 500 English-medium Yahoo! Answers queries and 500 Korean-medium Naver Knowledge-iN queries found a greater tendency to discuss dictionary choice on the Korean site, and more postings about word meanings and origins, and dictionary use for word games, on the UK/Irish site. Many Korean queries concerned dictionaries for English language learning and comparisons between different types of dictionary, whilst Yahoo! queries were more likely to reject dictionary information as incomplete or incorrect.
Bibliographical noteThis is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Lexicography. The final authenticated version is available online at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007%2Fs40607-014-0002-3
- Online Q&A communities
- Social media
- Dictionary user needs
- Research methods