Published: Nov. 18, 2022
Photo DSNA

The Dictionary Society of North America (DSNA), founded in 1975, is an organization of lexicographers, scholars, publishers, and collectors, all with an interest in dictionaries. It holds a conference every two years at a university somewhere in North America for members and all other interested parties to network, socialize, and learn and talk about dictionaries. Past meetings have taken place at UC-Berkeley, Indiana University, University of Michigan, McGill University, and the University of Chicago, to name only a few. Next year, for the first time, the DSNA will meet for the first time at CU-Boulder. CU Linguistics is a major sponsor, and CU faculty are among the invited speakers. 

If you have ever been curious about how dictionaries come to be, this is the place to find out. The world of lexicography and dictionary-making is surprisingly small, and very friendly. DSNA members are largely from North America but our conferences regularly attract people from all over the world, working in all languages, with an interest in dictionaries.

The Linguistics Department, thanks to chair Laura Michaelis, is the official sponsor of the conference. We expect 100 or more attendees and we very strongly encourage local participation! To that end, there will be special discounted rates for students to join the conference, and there will also be volunteer opportunities closer to the time of the conference, in exchange for free admission.

If you would like to make a presentation at the conference, there’s scope for that too! Here is a page about the conference on the DSNA website and it includes a link to the call for papers.

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in lexicography, there’s good news and bad news. The bad news is that there are very few jobs available of the old-fashioned kind: that is, writing definitions for standard English-language dictionaries. But the good news is, lexicographic work on under resourced, minority, and marginalized languages is a growing field that increasingly attracts funding. Computational linguistics has also expanded the field of dictionaries and lexicography greatly and presents many opportunities for innovation. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the DSNA conference represents the best networking opportunity to get your foot into the door of the dictionary world.

So save the dates: the conference will happen at the UMC starting May 31, 2023 and run through June 3.