Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners, also known as MEDAL, was first published in 2002 by Macmillan Education. MEDAL is an advanced learner’s dictionary and shares most of the features of this type of dictionary: it provides definitions in simple language, using a controlled defining vocabulary; most words have example sentences to illustrate how they are typically used; and information is given about how words combine grammatically or in collocations. MEDAL also introduced a number of innovations. These include:
- ‘collocation boxes’ giving lists of high-frequency collocates, identified using Sketch Engine software
- word frequency information, with the most frequent 7500 English words shown in red and categorised in three frequency bands, based on the idea, derived from Zipf's law, that a relatively small number of high-frequency words account for a high percentage of most texts
- ‘metaphor boxes’, showing how the vocabulary used for expressing common concepts (such as ‘anger’) tends to reflect a common metaphorical framework. This is based on George Lakoff’s ideas of conceptual metaphor
- a 50-page section providing guidance on writing academic English, based on a collaboration with the Centre for English Corpus Linguistics in Louvain, Belgium and using the Centre’s learner corpus data
The Macmillan English Dictionary also exists as an electronic dictionary, available free on the Web. Like most online dictionaries, it benefits from being able to update content regularly with new words and meanings. In addition to the dictionary, the online version has a thesaurus function enabling users to find synonyms for any word, phrase or meaning. There is also a blog (the Macmillan Dictionary Blog) with daily postings on language issues, especially on global English and language change. An "Open Dictionary" allows users to provide their own dictionary entries for new words they have come across. The online edition has been recognised as a good example of this emerging genre of reference publishing.
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