Can you help me explain this essay prompt?The prompt is : "Select a YA [young adult] novelist and write a critical essay on their place in the lexicon ... " (there's more, but this part I don't...

Can you help me explain this essay prompt?

The prompt is : "Select a YA [young adult] novelist and write a critical essay on their place in the lexicon ... " (there's more, but this part I don't really understand)... What exactly is a lexicon and how do I discuss the author's place in it??!

Expert Answers
James Kelley eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You're right to be confused. I'm confused, too!

There is only one use of the word "lexicon" in English and in reference to language that I know of, and that's a reference to all of the words and meaningful units used to make words (such as prefixes and suffixes) in a language. In other words, "lexicon" means (in the broadest sense of the word) "vocabulary." That's not how the word seems to be used in this question.

In German, the word "Lexicon" is used in reference to encyclopedia-like works. I don't see how that definition fits, either. (You don't have single index and reference book on writers of young adult literature that you're using in a class, do you?)

Can you contact your instructor (or the person who posed the question) to ask for clarification?

Otherwise, you'll be forced to guess what's meant by "lexicon." Maybe the person who wrote the question meant to say "canon." That would make sense.

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Perhaps, the manner in which the prompt is phrased in a manner for you to analyze the diction in a Young Adult work.  For example, Lauren Myracle's work, ttyl (Talk to You Later) is a book that captures the essence of communication amongst teenagers who use acronyms and texting/ Instant Messaging language to articulate their conditions in the world.  This would be a work where one could analyze diction/ lexicon in terms of being able to effectively convey aspects of the genre.  Lisi Harrison's Clique series might serve as another example of a writer appropriating YA language to convey their work and then, in turn, the work becomes appropriate by language in the genre.  In both instances, we see that language becomes essential to the genre, the works' effectiveness, as well as the lexicon of the target audience.