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Original scientific paper

In search of meaning: čitak (readable) and čitljiv (legible) in norm and usage

Jakob Patekar orcid id

Full text: croatian pdf 353 Kb

page 337-356

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In this paper, we try to establish the meanings of the words čitak and čitljiv (readable and legible, respectively). It seems that the norm is not clear on what these words actually mean; different dictionaries give different (and opposite) definitions so that it is not clear which of the words refers to the comprehensibility and ease of reading a text, and which to the ease of reading one’s handwriting or print. The same issue is found in usage, in texts of different genres. Therefore, we analyze Croatian dictionaries from the beginning of the 20th century until today to track the normative path of the words in questions, and we seek answers in handbooks on language usage. We look to grammar to find out whether there is a difference in meaning between suffixes -ak and -ljiv, and we search for examples of use in two corpuses of the Croatian language (Croatian Language Repository and Croatian National Corpus) to see how the words are actually used in their basic and derived forms. Based on the corpus analysis, we suggest changes to the definitions in dictionaries and, finally, we discuss the issue of the lexicographers’ norm that stems from the research.


čitak, čitljiv, readable, legible, meaning, norm, usage, corpus analysis, lexicography, paronyms

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