Unclear Definitions: Investigating Dictionaries’ Fictitious Entries through Creative and Critical Writing

Eleanor Williams

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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This practice-based Ph.D. investigates false entries within dictionaries and encyclopædias and provides an exegesis of such entries as literary texts.An initial critical thesis defines the mountweazel and ghost and evanescent lexicographical entries, and considers the extent to which these function as ‘creative writing’.

Its chapters are structured around three fictitious entries: the noun esquivalience, biographical matter pertaining to Lillian Virginia Mountweazel, and the elusive allusive jungftak. It also analyses whether false entries — as ‘meaningless’ lexemes or lemmas — can be read as part of a canon of nonsense literature. Assessing the perceived infallibility of dictionaries and encyclopædic resources, the thesis examines the textual and social ramifications of a lexicographer who has violated or subverted a dictionary’s authority by including untrue or deliberate incorrect entries.

Together, the novel and thesis explore the ways in which lexicographical probity and impropriety can be figured as creative expression and commentary.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Hawley, Judith, Supervisor
  • Kreider, Kristen, Supervisor
Award date22 Apr 2016
Publication statusUnpublished - 13 Apr 2016

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