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On-line version ISSN 2224-0039
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Lexikos vol.32  Stellenbosch  2022 



Stigmatised Dictionaries Housing a Stigmatised Variety of English: The Use of Korean English Online Dictionaries as a Teaching Tool within the EFL Classroom


Gestigmatiseerde woordeboeke bevat 'n gestigmatiseerde variasie van Engels: Die gebruik van aanlyn woordeboeke van Koreaanse Engels as onderrighulpmiddel in die EVT-klaskamer



Alex Baratta

Manchester Institute of Education, University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom (




This paper adopts a practice-based focus, explaining how online dictionaries can be used as pedagogic tools for teachers within the English as a Foreign Language (EFL) classroom. A discussion is provided of online dictionaries which are created by, broadly speaking, 'laypeople', and not professional lexicographers; and the vocabulary in question pertains to expanding circle Englishes, such as those tied to the Far East, with Korean English presented here as representative of this circle. However, online dictionaries, notably the variety described here, are often viewed negatively, based on judgements made regarding their accuracy, and lacking the prestige of being compiled by professional lexicographers. Further, varieties of English which reside outside the context of standard inner-circle varieties (e.g. American English), are often regarded as incorrect and/or inferior to the standard variety spoken by native speakers of English; indeed, the standard inner-circle variety is often regarded as the standard. However, this paper seeks to demonstrate how both online dictionaries and expanding circle Englishes have a role to play in the EFL classroom. In doing so, this can help to address broader issues tied to linguistic prejudice and hegemony, providing a more equal approach to language, to include its online compilation.

Keywords: online dictionaries, standard english, inner-circle english, non-inner circle englishes (nice), expanding circle of english, korean english, intercultural communication, translation


In hierdie artikel word daar op die praktykgefokus: Daar word uiteengesit hoe aanlyn woordeboeke as pedagogiese hulpmiddels vir onderwysers in die Engels-as-Vreemde Taal- (EVT)-klaskamer gebruik kan word. Aanlyn woordeboeke wat oor die algemeen geskep word deur 'leke', en nie professionele leksikograwe nie, word bespreek, en die tersaaklike woordeskat het betrekking op die uitbreidende kring van Engels, soos die wat verbind word met die Verre Ooste, met Koreaanse Engels wat hier aangebied word as verteenwoordigend van hierdie kring. Aanlyn woordeboeke, veral die soorte wat hier beskryf word, word egter dikwels, gebaseer op oordele rakende hul akkuraatheid en weens die gebrek aan prestige aangesien hulle nie saamgestel word deur professionele leksikograwe nie, as negatief beskou. Boonop word die varieteite van Engels wat buite die konteks van die standaard binnekring varieteite (bv. Amerikaanse Engels) val, dikwels beskou as onjuis en/of minderwaardig aan die standaard varieteit wat deur moedertaalsprekers van Engels gebruik word. Die standaard binne-kring-varieteit word inderdaad dikwels beskou as die standaard. In hierdie artikel word daar egter gepoog om te demonstreer hoe beide aanlyn woordeboeke en die uitbreidende kring van Engels in die EVT-klaskamer 'n rol kan speel. Sodoende kan wyer kwessies rakende linguistiese vooroordeel en oorheersing aangespreek word om 'n meer gelyke benadering tot taal te verskaf wat die aanlyn samestelling daarvan kan insluit.

Sleutelwoorde: aanlyn woordeboeke, standaard engels, binnekring engels, nie-binnekring engels (nbke), uitbreidende kring van engels, koreaanse engels, interkulturele kommunikasie, vertaling




The central theme within this paper is that of inclusivity, applied to both dictionaries and the particular languages that they house. Specifically, this paper focuses on online dictionaries, defined broadly, and those which present the vocabulary of expanding circle Englishes (e.g. China, Brazil, Russia). This circle represents countries in which English is a foreign language, yet widely used, and by implication, not spoken by native speakers. The common link both dictionary and language have in this case is that they can be viewed negatively, seen as lacking authority. However, this paper discusses the ways in which online dictionaries which present the vocabulary of expanding circle Englishes have a central role to play in the EFL classroom, using Korean English as the focus here. In doing so, a more egalitarian approach can be taken to both language and the more modern means to present vocabulary, demonstrating how both can be a useful tool to teach an international language.


A typology of online dictionaries

Dictionaries are no longer tied solely to print-bound creations, given the proliferation of online dictionaries (Tarp 2019) which represent an innovation as part of the suggested Fourth Industrial Revolution (Schwab 2015). This refers to the ways in which technology has spread its influence within society, involving, as Tarp (2019: 226) puts it, a "disruptive explosion of technological innovations". Dictionaries are a part of this, seen with web-based dictionaries of course, but also including DVDs and CD-ROMs. While Tarp exhorts us to address the ways in which dictionaries can move forward within this technological context, he points out particular issues with online dictionaries. These issues will be addressed, after first considering the variety within the otherwise singular category of 'online dictionary'.

Indeed, it is important to point out that online dictionaries can take several forms. In the first instance, they must, by definition, include a list of vocabulary from a particular language or language variety, and as an online source, they must be available via the Internet through a web browser. This, I would suggest, is an accurate definition of both 'online' and 'dictionary'. While I further suggest that this definition is hardly controversial, its broadness allows us to understand online dictionaries from a more inclusive perspective. On the one hand, an online dictionary could indeed be a copy of a print-based variety, providing the same content as its print-based component (such as the OED). However, online dictionaries could equally apply to word lists or blogs, which nonetheless serve the same purpose: to provide a list of lexis. Thus, I use the term online dictionary broadly for this paper, but not inaccurately. This is because the term would, by definition, include online lists of lexis in many forms and, given the spirit of inclusivity that this paper champions, we should not rule out any form of online source whose purpose is indeed to present the lexis of a language variety.

This points toward a typology of online dictionaries, from those which represent online versions of prestigious dictionary varieties, to those compiled by individual lexicographers as part of, say, a passion project, or indeed a blog which presents lexis of a language variety which is designed by a language enthusiast in their free time. Nesi (2000: 842) proposes a typology which involves the Internet dictionary, glossaries of courseware, dictionaries for CD learners, and pocket electronic dictionaries. The Internet dictionary itself is hardly monolithic, and can be realised as different varieties, a point already made. Campoy Cubillo (2004), for example, points to varied aspects of online dictionaries, such as those which include links to the cultural aspects of a given language, interactive features such as mechanisms for online feedback, and online sources in which a dictionary is but one of the site's resources (such as a blog). Given the variety inherent within online dictionaries, it can be a category that is indeed "difficult to classify" (Campoy Cubillo 2004: 49), with Campoy Cubillo further discussing typology in terms of users, needs and skills.

Even further, we can consider genres of online dictionaries (Luzon Marco 2004), thus allowing for subcategories to be presented of the type 'online dictionary'. Luzon Marco (2004) explains how genres are dynamic and subject to change and thus, while there are common features which indeed identify a genre as just that, there are differences and variation to be expected, based on the purposes of the individuals and communities who create online dictionaries. Thus, we can consider online dictionaries as "genres in evolution" (Luzon Marco 2004: 75). Berkenkotter and Huckin (1995: 17) elaborate on this, explaining that there is a need "to take a more articulated approach (to genre) in which individual texts are seen to contain heterogeneous mixtures of elements, some of which are recognizably more generic than others". Given the inherent variety within online dictionaries, and considering the focus on inclusivity, it makes sense to include examples of dictionaries which can indeed range from the OED to word lists compiled by language enthusiasts. Both examples, and those in between, nonetheless share the same function of presenting the lexis of a given language variety.

It is beyond the scope of this paper to suggest revisions, refinements and/or updates to the important category of online dictionary typology and/or genre. However, it is hoped that the inclusive approach that is suggested within the literature presented is sufficient for us to regard a broad category beyond more rigid definitions and understanding.


The legitimacy of online dictionaries

Web-based dictionaries are argued to be of dubious quality, given "inadequate and even incorrect information" (Tarp 2019: 227), with Green (2012) further suggesting that this may be due to the fact that they are not necessarily compiled by professional lexicographers. Essentially, anyone with the requisite technological knowledge can create their own online dictionary, to include a personal blog which incorporates such. Implicit in this is the fact that many individuals who rely on technology and seek a quick route to information retrieval may have to consider the quality, or lack thereof, regarding the online dictionaries they access. Nonetheless, it is precisely this category of online dictionaries - those created by laypeople, as it were - that comprises the focus within this paper. However, this broad term needs clarification.

First, 'laypeople' can be used as a default word to simply refer to those who are not professional lexicographers by trade. However, this would not exclude professionals, such as university lecturers and linguists, for example, those who we would associate with some degree of relevant knowledge. The issue, I would suggest, is that Dr Smith from X university might not be regarded as highly as a team of professional lexicographers who compile online versions of the more authoritative dictionaries such as the OED and Merriam Webster. Thus, online dictionaries per se are not the issue, at least not in terms of authority, respect and trust, if they are produced by such organisations. Nonetheless, there is evidence that the 'big names' in language education, such as the British Council, do not always propagate accurate information in terms of EFL learning on their website, including vocabulary usage (Baratta 2021). However, the British Council has the pedigree that a lone individual might not, even if he/she is a researcher in a relevant field such as Education.

Moreover, the term 'laypeople' arguably extends more to individuals who are not associated with academia per se, but perhaps have a personal interest in creating dictionaries. This is especially true when such creation involves the vocabulary of a language, or language variety, which these individuals have a passion for. This could include compiling the vocabulary of the artificial languages of Klingon or Elvish, used in the worlds of Star Trek and Lord of the Rings respectively. Or more recently we might consider the online dictionaries dedicated to the language of Harry Potter, including words such as muggle (an individual without magical ability).

Granted, we could dismiss such online dictionaries as merely representing fan sites, and thus not 'academic' enough (especially given that they represent fictional worlds and/or artificial languages). However, such abrupt dismissal would be a case of not seeing the forest for the lexicographical trees, and I assert this for several reasons. First, though a narrow example, prestigious publishing houses are getting in on the act regarding fan fiction; Bloomsbury, for example, has published an online glossary for the vocabulary used in the Harry Potter series. This can help to not merely accommodate the fan base for this series, but it also adds a degree of linguistic respect perhaps, in that the online glossary is published by a major company such as Bloomsbury, who of course published the Harry Potter books. Such passion for creating dictionaries need not be tied solely to fan fiction; indeed, as I will demonstrate, there is ample evidence for online dictionaries devoted to a real language - that referred to as Konglish, or Korean English as I use the term (Baratta 2019; Baratta 2021). This is a variety of the English language as used in Korea and by Koreans, consisting of its own specific lexis. This is a second consideration regarding the importance of online dictionaries.

Third, individuals who compile such language, from students, to chefs, to world travellers, given their vested interest in the creation of online dictionaries, indeed have skin in the game, regardless of their 'day job'. This is based on personal experience with the language per se, whether as an everyday speaker, EFL teacher residing in the relevant country (e.g. South Korea) or simply as a language enthusiast (Baratta 2021). We should not discount the importance of such contributions from individuals who wish to share lexical information and with this, very often share cultural insights also regarding the country whose lexis is represented online. In the case of South Korea, given the current hallyu, or cultural wave regarding this country (Potayroi 2014; Touhami and Al-Haq 2017), there is ample evidence of a dedicated fan base, whose knowledge of Korean culture - based on cuisine, K-POP and/ or K-drama - is accurate; this would include their knowledge of Korean English also, as such individuals are users of this variety of English. Touhami and Al-Haq (2017) in fact cite the use of Korean English - and Korean - amongst Algerian K-POP fans, to include its use as part of online forums, but also everyday speech (an example of the latter category includes non-Koreans adopting Korean pronunciation for certain words, so that coffee is realised more as koppee). Such use can include other varieties of English of course, such as Englishes tied to India, Ghana or Singapore.

Fourth, a linguistic dilemma is that to access the lexis of such a variety of English, it is online dictionaries which are arguably the only source in the first instance. Thus, while there is evidence that a trusted source such as the OED (whether print or online) incorporates borrowed words from Korean (e.g. mukbang), this is not Korean English of course. There is a notable exception, to be fair: the OED includes the Korean English words of skinship and the interjection fighting (though often pronounced as hwaiting or paiting by Koreans). Skinship is a blended term which derives entirely from English. However, for those who seek a more extensive list of Korean English vocabulary, they will need to look beyond the OED and seek out online dictionaries. The dilemma I refer to is not that online dictionaries (as described in this paper) are somehow second-best; rather, the issue is that we don't have wider representation in the first place, with the exception of a major dictionary including just two words of a given variety of English. Thus, online dictionaries are often the dominant source of information for those wishing to access, and learn, the vocabulary of Englishes beyond the context of native speaker varieties.

To illustrate the word skinship in the OED, its entry is provided below (found at

skinship, n.

Pronunciation: Brit. Hear pronunciation/'skinfrp/U.S. Hear pronunciation/' skinjip/

Origin: Formed within English, by compounding.

Etymons:SKIN n., KINSHIP n.

Etymology: Blend of SKIN n. and KINSHIP n.

Esp. in Japanese and Korean contexts: touching or close physical contact between parent and child or (esp. in later use) between lovers or friends, used to express affection or strengthen an emotional bond.

This is clearly an example of how Koreans have made English their own, and its inclusion in the OED arguably helps to cement a more 'official' status. However, I have argued extensively against the notion of more traditional means of linguistic codification being viewed as the sole means of codification (Baratta 2021). In other words, to regard the lexis of a particular language variety as only having linguistically arrived once it is compiled in dictionaries published by authoritative sources would be to ignore the societal reality of language. This societal codification is initiated with the speakers themselves on the ground level. After all, without a language in existence in the first instance, there would be nothing to compile in dictionaries regarding its lexis. From this starting point of the speakers themselves, the language can be further codified by public signage - consider the term Grand Open used in Korea, seen throughout the country on flyers for new cafes, tapestries draped over new department stores and printed on menus for new restaurants. Are these not also 'authoritative' sources helping to spread a language's vocabulary, given that they reflect the language being used in society? Going further, there is evidence of such vocabulary used within web-based media, such as the term officetel used on Korean real estate websites, and referring to a building which functions as both one's residence and place of business (a blend of 'office' and 'hotel').

Thus, speakers of a language initiate, spread and establish their language variety and in doing so, they help to codify it in the process. Kruger and Van Rooy (2017) use the term conventionalisation to refer to what I am calling (societal) codification. Kruger and Van Rooy, however, do not consider codification to have taken place until the relevant feature, here vocabulary, has been accepted for publication in, say, a national newspaper and thus, gained editorial approval. Such approval again is implied to represent some kind of linguistic officialdom, but the language in question is already in official use by its speakers. As Mufwene (2001: 106) explains, "it is those who speak a language on a regular basis - and in a manner they consider normal to themselves - who develop the norms for their communities".

Linking to the modern theory of lexicography, one postulate is the need for dictionaries to reflect the needs of a certain group of people in specific social situations (Bergenholtz and Tarp 2003). One particular group comprises individuals with a need to access the vocabulary of expanding circle Englishes within the extra-lexicographical situation of Internet usage. This may well include EFL teachers who seek to use such vocabulary for their own personal knowledge if residing in a certain country, or as a teaching and learning tool within their classroom - this latter point will be discussed in this paper. We should also consider that online dictionaries are a modern approach to lexicography, emphasising "democracy and equal access to meaning-making rights" (Damaso 2005: 4). This latter point also suggests a more egalitarian approach to language, not just in terms of the variety of language per se but also in terms of the means of its compilation. In addition, the societal codification which I have discussed indeed includes online dictionaries (Cotter and Damaso 2007), with such dictionaries a more modern approach to the traditional print-based dictionary.

Dolezal (2006: 395) acknowledges the power that dictionaries have to codify language, explaining that dictionaries "confer legitimacy on a language". This is mentioned in specific regard to the variety of Englishes that exist in the world, with this aforementioned legitimacy based on "identifying and establishing the varieties of Englishes that are used in various locations around the world". The authority of the dictionary that Dolezal also references should not be centred, however, on a small number of publishers which have been regarded as trusted and authoritative sources for over a hundred years, such as the OED; this authority should also apply to online dictionaries. And from here, the ways in which such dictionaries can be used within the teaching of English as a Foreign Language (or any foreign language, by extension), can be harnessed as an effective teaching tool. Given that Englishes used by native speakers are the focus within EFL pedagogy, varieties which fall outside this category are sometimes stigmatised; a point I will come back to.

Furthermore, there are additional points to consider regarding this particular variety of online dictionaries. Given that the Internet as a whole allows for a public forum, whether YouTube, websites or blogs, this can create a populist dictionary (Damaso 2005). This can be seen in cases where websites allow for the viewing public to post comments, and this in turn can lead to a public discussion and debate. Cotter and Damaso (2007: 1) refer to this as an "emergent dictionary genre", and this involves another layer - public input - to consider as part of the intersection between dictionary and technology. Thus, creators and users can, in part, collaborate and cooperate in terms of meaning-making, with an authoritative editor replaced with public usage. In addition, whatever lack of authority some may attribute to laypeople in their compilation of online dictionaries, Green (1996: 11) reminds us that traditional dictionaries are also "the product of human beings [who] bring their prejudices and biases into the dictionaries they make". Whatever these biases might be, some online dictionaries allow for readers to post their comments and views nonetheless, to include addressing points which they indeed might take issue with. In this way, there is the potential for such online dictionaries to perhaps be considered 'the people's dictionary'.

Herein lies the focus of this paper: to discuss the ways in which a stigmatised variety of both dictionary and English can nonetheless join forces within the EFL classroom, as an effective means to help students acquire the native speaker variety of this international language.


The judgements made against non-inner circle Englishes

Beyond the need to recognise the importance of online dictionaries, and doing so from a broad perspective, we also need to consider the general societal push for equality and recognition of diversity as seen from a linguistic standpoint. Widdowson (1994: 385) sums this up well, notably in terms of the negative attitudes that suggest linguistic inequality regarding certain varieties of English:

How English develops in the world is no business whatsoever of native speakers in England, the United States, or anywhere else. They have no say in the matter, no right to intervene or pass judgement. They are irrelevant .... it (English) is not a possession which they lease out to others, while retaining the freehold. Other people actually own it.

This captures the essence of language development, in as much as all languages are of course dynamic, not static. A given language spoken in one specific area will change with each generation, so it is hardly surprising that a language will change when it is exported throughout the world. Further, Kermas (2012: 75) argues that "lexicographers need to address the culture-specific dimension of knowledge sharing in today's global village and broaden their cultural view-point". This point is made in direct relation to the relative lack of vocabulary within dictionaries (such as the OED) that reflects English varieties which exist outside the so-called inner circle (Kachru 1991), the circle devoted to native speaker varieties in countries such as the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland. While this quotation from Kermas points to a lack of certain English vocabulary within dictionaries, online dictionaries already fill this gap, and often include entries which discuss the culture of the country whose vocabulary is being presented. The importance, then, of being more inclusive of Englishes around the world and their vocabulary is being noted, and inclusiv-ity needs to extend to language, given that language in turn acts as a proxy for culture. Beyond the inner circle of English, there is also the outer circle which consists of countries which have a historical presence of English, often due to colonialism, such as Indian English. The expanding circle incorporates countries in which English has a dominant presence, but lacks the historical hold seen with the outer circle; Korea is an example of the expanding circle. And all of these circles use English for both intra- and international purposes, with a lexis (and grammar) which serves their speakers well.

However, non-inner circle Englishes are often marginalised, based on lexis which diverges from prestigious English varieties such as the inner-circle standard (Galloway and Rose 2015; Merilainen 2017; Matsuda 2020). A good example is Singapore's Speak Good English campaign, in which the government had tried to discourage the people's use of Singlish. While inner-circle standard is the variety which has the most prestige, given its usage in contexts such as education, government and business, the linguistic reality is that all languages and varieties within are equally legitimate. This legitimacy is based on the fact that the language in question has a systematic and predictable use of lexis (and grammar), and for its speakers gets the job done in terms of effecting communicative success. The societal reality, however, is often based on prejudiced notions of absolute correctness, encouraged perhaps by the proliferation of a one size fits all standard of English in the classroom, and indeed represented within prestigious dictionaries and school-based textbooks. However, there is simply no linguistic basis to consider a language variety as primitive at worst, or a failed attempt to learn correctly at best.

From this discussion, it is argued that all language varieties are legitimate, regardless of societal sanctions placed on them, and there are individuals who have a desire to know more about the many varieties of English, with Korean English one example. Online dictionaries are also a legitimate means to spread and reinforce the lexis of Korean English, created by individuals who are users, or certainly enthusiasts, of the language variety under discussion on their websites and blogs. The discussion now continues and explains the ways in which online dictionaries can be used within the context of EFL teaching and learning.


The implications for EFL pedagogy

With regard to EFL pedagogy, both online dictionaries and non-inner circle Englishes (NICE) have a part to play. My discussion in this section focuses on Korean English, but not to the exclusion of other NICEs; indeed, the overall purpose is to approach language from an inclusive perspective. Nonetheless, the focus on Korean English essentially functions to place the spotlight on a particular variety of English, while also acknowledging its function as a stand-in for NICE in general and their role within the EFL classroom.

First, we need to consider that to approach English from a monolithic perspective within teaching is not reflective of the real linguistic world. Current EFL pedagogy (Matsuda 2002) in fact emphasises the need to consider English from an international perspective, a means to consider the "socio-cultural functions of global English" (Lovtsevich and Sokolov 2020: 703). Rose (2017: 173) elaborates, arguing that "by not exposing learners to the diversity of English, teachers are doing their learners a disservice by ill-equipping them to use English in the future with a wide variety of speakers who will not conform to the unrepresentative standards promoted in traditional English as a foreign language (EFL) classrooms". The implication here is that even if a specific variety of English is prescribed for a given EFL classroom, such as standard inner-circle English, it is necessary to expose students to other varieties, more so if they intend to live overseas in which they will be exposed to speakers of multiple Englishes, some of whom are not native speakers. This could also include of course using a NICE as a pedagogical tool to help teach inner circle English. Moreover, my suggestion is more specifically focused on using the local variety of English that the students are already familiar with, as a means to teach the inner circle standard variety. Thus, Korean EFL students, already familiar with Korean English, can have their variety of English used to help teach the inner circle variety. Moreover, if we consider inner-circle dialects of English, then clearly there is much linguistic variety within just a single country, let alone globally.

However, the purpose is not merely to expose students to multiple Englishes in order for them to learn such varieties and go beyond a singular classroom focus on English, important though this is. Another important reason to bring NICE into the EFL classroom is to use them as a means to teach the prescribed variety of English. Thus, Korean English can be used to teach students inner-circle standard English, assuming that is the dominant classroom focus. In both cases, other varieties of English, which might otherwise be disregarded - even by the students who themselves speak such varieties - can be taught in their own right and used as a teaching tool as well. The former function is actually important for the teachers perhaps more so than the students, a means for them to avoid an otherwise singular pedagogic focus on one variety of English, and the culture(s) which is part of this. In fact, there is evidence that inner-circle English speakers, as part of their teaching preparation, are being exposed to NICE, as a means to develop respect for such varieties and the cultures within, and recognise their validity as varieties of English (Brown 1993; Baratta 2019). This pedagogy is used in universities in countries such as the UK, USA, Sweden, Germany, South Africa and Japan, and reflects the need for future EFL teachers to promote cultural and linguistic diversity in their future teaching, by first being exposed to such in their current learning (Friedrich 2002; McKay 2002; Matsuda 2002; Galloway 2017).

This is not to suggest that inner-circle EFL teachers would deliberately champion their English over their students'; but the focus on just one variety of English can reinforce ideas that NICE are, by definition, incorrect, and something to be avoided. Thus, a classroom of linguistic and cultural respect can be forged by bringing NICE into the EFL classroom, to (a) help both teachers and students learn from each other; and (b) demonstrate the systematic nature - and communicative ability - of multiple varieties of English. Bamgbose (1998: 3) further asks a telling question, "why should a native-variety-based standard continue to license the norms of non-native Englishes?" This indicates a key issue regarding some people's attitudes toward NICE, and inner-circle dialects for that matter, in that they are sometimes viewed as failed attempts to master the standard. Again, I do not suggest that linguistic prejudice is an unfortunate reality that can be ignored, nor can the prestige afforded to some varieties of English over others be disregarded. But once again, the additional reality is that there are more non-native speakers of English than native speakers, and thus more NICE-speakers. While standard inner-circle English is indeed the variety required for writing academic essays and passing exams such as IELTS, for informal communication amongst friends, there is clear evidence of NICE being deployed, in Korea (Rüdiger 2019), Singapore (Leimgruber, Siemund and Terassa 2018) and India (Trudgill and Hannah 1994).

This background which has discussed matters from a more linguistic perspective has been necessary in order to better situate the focus that now follows on online dictionaries, and how they can be used in the EFL classroom. This derives from my book publication in 2021, The Societal Codification of Korean English, in which online dictionaries were a prominent aspect of the aforementioned societal codification. Specifically, I had obtained a list of online dictionaries dedicated to Korean English, reflecting the specific type of web-based dictionary under discussion here. The search terms used were Korean English; Konglish; Korean English dictionary; and Konglish dictionary; the term Konglish was deemed necessary, given its common societal use over Korean English. The entries deriving from the first page of each search result were selected, and this resulted in a total of nineteen websites. I present three examples of the dictionaries which respectively derive from an EFL teacher in Korea; a Korean individual; and a dictionary compiled by an Australian individual with a keen interest in Korean culture, to include its use of English. Again, while these individuals are not professional lexicographers per se, they have accurate knowledge of the vocabulary of Korean English. And while such online dictionaries may lack the prestige afforded to certain print-based dictionaries (and their online versions), we cannot wait for the vocabulary of NICE to be compiled in a more 'traditional' manner given this will take more time, and we already have the vocabulary in abundance within online dictionaries. Further, Pikilnyak et al. (2020) advocate the usage of online dictionaries in pedagogical contexts, arguing that the benefit of dictionaries in learning a language is increased through the online medium. Specifically, they state that "the previously existing monopoly on knowledge has disappeared. Now everyone can use the knowledge and create it. This provides the main trends in education - free access to education and using open resources" (page 71).


Samples of online dictionaries of Korean English

The online dictionary below is designed by Leon Priz, who spent ten years in Korea and who was an educator for twenty five years. His website offers a great deal of information on Korean English vocabulary, and more besides (to be described).



The next online dictionary is designed by Miri Choi, who is a Korean teacher.



A final example of an online dictionary is designed by an Australian university student, who has a keen interest in many aspects of Korea and its culture, to include of course Korean English.



From these three examples of online dictionaries, we can now consider the next step: how can they be used within the context of EFL teaching? One possibility is to provide students with online links to a variety of dictionaries, from which they must then learn the vocabulary. Following this, a classroom test might be administered some time later. One useful example of testing involves having students translate words from one English into another English variety. This is one key way that students can be taught two different Englishes, but both can be used to understand the other in the process. Moreover, by focusing on translation, it avoids the notion that NICE vocabulary is incorrect or, at the very least, that inner-circle standard is the only variety of English worth pursuing. Therefore, rather than ask students to 'correct' the Korean English term burberry, they instead would be asked to translate this word into inner-circle English. Of course, even inner circle is far too broad at times, given that burberry could be translated into trench coat in the US, but many British individuals might well use the word rain coat as well.

For example:



Therefore, students can be provided with a word in Korean English and asked to provide the meaning in American English, for example, or vice versa. In addition, by providing students with some otherwise unfamiliar NICE vocabulary, this can further help students apply their critical thinking skills, attempting to understand the logic inherent in one variety of English as much as it is equally 'logical' in another. This can be seen clearly in examples such as cell phone (American English), mobile phone (British English) and hand phone (Korean English). Moreover, using the online dictionaries as both a lexical, and visual, teaching aid, students can be taught the nature of language from a more purely-linguistic perspective. For example, if the Korean English word burberry, referring to a trench coat, is 'wrong', then so are the words hoover (British English) and kleenex (American English). None of these examples are in any way wrong of course, in large part because they have so much use within society and society decides for itself how it will communicate. But these particular examples, in which a brand name is attributed more broadly to an object, is nothing new in linguistics - this is simply an example of overextension. Such a focus can play a large part in TESOL programmes, helping future EFL teachers, regardless of which English circle they derive from, to understand how language works and develops; this can assist in EFL teaching, notably in terms of grammar classes; and ultimately, it can help students and teachers alike approach language in the manner it should be approached - with linguistic objectivity and not based on knee-jerk reactions revolving around notions of '(in)correct'.

I recognise, as some readers may have done already, that there is what we might call an error from an absolute sense in Choi's dictionary - the expression Britain students. Within the inner-circle of English, and perhaps beyond, we would expect an adjective to be used when describing one's nationality: British students. If we can determine, however, that Britain students would be the term used in Korean English (and all its possible extensions, such as Britain teachers, America doctors, France pilots, and so on), then this is not an error. I cannot claim to know whether this is a feature of Korean English or not, though if it is an error, then I would suggest it is based on negative transfer from Korean to English. This is because in Korean, the country name followed by the word for people (사람, saram) is how nationalities are expressed. Thus, in literal Korean, the correct expression would indeed be 'he is a Britain person'. Given that Choi also uses 'British students', however, then this suggests that her use of Britain students is indeed an error. It could be regarded as one of the weaknesses of online dictionaries compiled by individuals who, while having knowledge of the language in question, are not necessarily professionals and further, there is not the same kind of editorial scrutiny that would be involved with, say, the OED. This is entirely a legitimate claim of course, though I approach this from a different perspective, one that is entirely relevant for a classroom context.

Specifically, in the context of a language-learning class, such as EFL, a discussion of errors, negative transfer, cultural influence on language and indeed, determining an error from an innovation (Jenkins 2009; Gut 2011), is a useful approach. First, by having such discussions, it can help students to think critically, and ponder relevant topics for a language class, such as intercultural communication, translation and how one language can be influenced by another. Second, this can help to remove negative judgements overall, whether pertaining to language proficiency and/or online dictionaries. This is because the use of such dictionaries in the classroom fully pertains to language learning in the first instance, not language judgement or questioning someone's linguistic ability (and here, the linguistic ability pertains to the writer's inner-circle English, and not the absolute focus of Korean English).

The aforementioned interactive aspects of online dictionaries are also reflected with the three online dictionaries. Priz, for example, provides an email address for people to contact him, and the Sydney to Seoul website also allows for comments to be posted, as part of a 'leave a reply' option. Choi also invites people to follow her. This can generate discussion, questions, debates and potentially forge friendships, all based on a shared interest. Beyond this, we should also consider that the level of interest in Korea often goes far beyond Koreans' use of English on many online dictionaries. Indeed, such online dictionaries often comprise more than just a list of vocabulary. Leon's Planet, for example, offers a range of topics which people can access with the click of their mouse, such as the Korean language, Korean food, Korean history and the origins of Korean itself. As an educator, Priz also makes clear on his site that a central purpose of his website is indeed to educate people, given his background as a teacher, and Choi is also a teacher. While this is only two individuals, it might suggest that some teachers are indeed taking lexicographical matters into their own hands, by creating their own dictionaries for the purposes of sharing information and ultimately based on wishing to inform and educate. This alone is another important reason why we need to consider such dictionaries as indeed having a degree of authority, precisely because they are sometimes created and compiled by educators, who would have an incentive to ensure that their dictionary's content is accurate. Nonetheless, on his website, Priz acknowledges that despite his interest in various languages and the content he has created for such (beyond Korean and Korean English), mistakes might be found. He offers two specific 'apologies', which arguably help to promote a sense of professionalism, and not incompetence:

Apology 1: Since I am not a native Korean, Chinese, Mongolian, or Spanish speaker, there may be linguistic errors. There might even be some English typographical errors. I apologize for those.

Apology 2: I have a plethora of links on my collective pages. Sometimes links get "broken", because other websites delete their pages. I would appreciate it if you would report broken links to me: contact me.

The Sydney to Seoul website also covers topics such as Korean culture and food, and also provides an extensive resources list pertaining largely to Korean (and even Polish!) language learning. A brief look at the comments posted on the resources section of this website demonstrates the positive features that can derive from online dictionaries in this regard. For example, there are queries from individuals looking for links to past TOPIK exam papers (Test of Proficiency in Korean), with the queries addressed. Also, an individual shares his own online dictionary, and others even post comments which ask for links to be updated, as they can no longer be accessed. But overall, there is a real sense of appreciation for Korea, to include its use of English. While I discuss the contents of only three online dictionaries out of a total of nineteen whose content I analysed, there are literally thousands more to consider. In fact, at the time of conducting my online search for online dictionaries devoted to Korean English, a search term for 'Korean English dictionary' resulted in 'about 396,000,000 results'. I do not have the time to analyse each and every online Korean English dictionary, and I can't ignore the possibility that quality and content will differ from one dictionary to the next. Indeed, some of the sites that came up in my search provided very little in terms of content. Using the additional search term of 'Konglish dictionary', one site,, provided just a definition: 'A disparaging term for various varieties of Korean English having distinctive lexis, syntax and phonology'. In this instance, no examples of vocabulary were actually provided. Nonetheless, when considering the more specific examples demonstrated here regarding online dictionaries per se, it is clear that there is often more on offer beyond a dictionary: links to additional online resources on varied, but related, subjects; a chance to engage with the public through their online posts; and many additional topics on offer which link with Korea. If we consider just one example of such an online Korean English dictionary, there is a wealth of information which could be used for an entire class. Students are offered a chance to learn about Korea from multiple perspectives, helping to reflect a focus on cultural knowledge, and they can learn this within what might be a more immediately accessible context - the Internet.

Moreover, prospective teachers can be exposed to further linguistic categories regarding lexis, which apply to all languages of course; this can further be deployed for their future (or current) students. That some of the online dictionaries provide such information is an added benefit, referring to categories such as clipping and semantic shift. An interesting feature of Choi's dictionary is the inclusion of the word 'real' in the context of 'the real meaning in Korea'. This might not appear to be of particular importance, but it arguably suggests that in this context, word meanings in Korea take precedence - as they should - regardless of the origins of a given word. Hence, the word white in Korean English is as meaningful as are its counterparts in countries such as the USA and UK, which would respectively use words such as whiteout and Tipp-ex. Here, then, are examples of three Englishes for the price of one, and initiated with the inclusion of an online dictionary in the classroom. Likewise, the word saida (cider) refers to a drink in Korea similar to 7-UP, but in the UK cider is an alcoholic beverage made from apples, whereas in the US it is non-alcoholic.

Going further, the inclusion of online dictionaries within the classroom can be the dominant focus per se, and not a supplement. Students can be asked to create their own online dictionaries, reflecting the ways in which technology is being used in the EFL classroom by the students and not just the teacher. Lee (2019), for example, discusses the use of IDLE (Informal Digital Learning of English), in which students can be asked to use their skills with social media and the virtual community, creating websites or blogs for assessment. This serves a twofold purpose: first, to tap into students' technological abilities and allow them to use such abilities and skills for a practical purpose, which can help facilitate learning; and second, to give students an opportunity to apply their own knowledge by creating their own online dictionary, thus being required to consider linguistic difference as just that, difference (and not deficit). Lee goes on to explain that "if Korean students practice IDLE activities to better understand diverse cultures, they are likely to improve their perceived ability to employ cross-cultural communication strategies" (page 294). This points to a suggested additional benefit, which derives from respecting the speakers within a culture who have made English their own, by first being exposed to the ways in which they have adapted English for national, and international, usage. Moreover, for EFL teachers who are planning to teach overseas, then learning that country's variety of English would certainly make life easier, facilitate communication and probably be easier to learn than a new language per se. For example, it is easier to learn Korean English as an American than to learn Korean, though learning Korean if residing in Korea is of course entirely worthwhile.

From this brief sample of potential classroom ideas, it is hoped that the practical inclusion of online dictionaries, as well as NICE housed within such dictionaries, serves an entirely useful application for teaching and learning. But the larger framework for the use of such is tied to a need to go beyond rather singular notions of 'correct' English and 'authoritative' dictionaries. Instead, the inclusion of NICE helps to reflect the linguistic reality outside the classroom, foster empathy within future EFL teachers regarding their students' English varieties (Matsuda 2002, 2020; Renandya 2012; Dinh 2017; Joo, Chik and Djonov 2020), and likewise help EFL students accept such linguistic diversity in the process. Furthermore, the use of online dictionaries as part of pedagogy helps students to regard the online dictionary as wholly legitimate regarding its usage in the classroom, a current, and perhaps future, means to capture the vocabulary of NICE, expanding circle Englishes in particular. I leave it to the readers of this article to consider additional ways in which online dictionaries can be used as part of pedagogy, though such usage need not be tied to EFL of course, and can involve a multitude of languages, topics and disciplines. For example, online dictionaries can also have a part to play if discussing fandom vocabulary, as was discussed, as part of a media course. Online dictionaries can also be used in the classroom to teach diplomats a given language variety before moving overseas, such as British diplomats who are learning English vocabulary as used in India (Wrenn 2012). And online dictionaries can be used as the main focal point per se in classes focused on the history of lexicography, in which case their inclusion would allow once again for a more concrete and non-judgemental approach, which is entirely necessary in the context of higher education.

In closing, I again invite readers to consider their own ideas and innovations regarding the use of online dictionaries in the classroom, regardless of the language used (be it Afrikaans or Burushaski), as well as the classroom focus for which the dictionary has a natural and meaningful inclusion. But certainly within the current societal use of technology, online dictionaries are here to stay, and their use within classrooms reflecting all manner of subjects should be considered, a means to determine how we can "inject new blood into the lexicographical veins" (Tarp 2019: 226). This need not relate solely to the ways in which we approach the development of lexicography from a more modern technological perspective, but also how we can use online dictionaries in their current form within our various pedagogies. But when online dictionaries are deployed within language classes, here EFL, there is the added benefit of helping students recognise the sheer variety of the English language, and its validity beyond a singular pedagogic model; and when presented within the context of online dictionaries, then a modern approach to lexicography can also be harnessed as a powerful teaching and learning tool.



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