Semantic Domains

Semantically Categorized Entry

A major goal of Language Explorer is to support the new method for creating dictionaries (DDP) which Ron Moe is developing :

“Many linguists have held a two-week workshop with 15–30 participants using the DDP method. The participants are trained in the method and then work through each domain, writing down the words of their language. The results are in the range of 10,000 to 15,000 words and idioms. For each word the participants are also asked to give a one-word gloss or simple definition in the national language. Since the words are collected by domain, the words are automatically classified by domain. So the workshop produces a large, glossed, classified word list. At this point it is closer to a thesaurus than a dictionary. But the word list can be quickly expanded into a simple dictionary.”

As a first step in supporting this approach, Language Explorer includes a tool for entering the words gathered during a word collection workshop. The basic idea is to gather a small group of speakers together for a couple weeks and elicit thousands of words by prompting them using semantic domains. (The collected entries will contain errors, and very little linguistic information will be added at that time. The entries are cleaned up and added to iteratively in latter steps of the process.)

As the typist enters each word, Language Explorer puts it in the lexicon. It creates a sense with the definition that has been entered (if any) and also attaches a link to the current semantic domain. If that word is entered again under a different semantic domain, the tool will create a new sense in that same entry. Later, someone will need to go through and decide which of these senses can be combined, and which should be their own entry. Adding linguistic information, such as assigning parts of speech, is facilitated by Language Explorer’s bulk edit tools.

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In this screenshot, we have selected the semantic domain “Ocean, lake”. On the right side, Language Explorer displays some of Ron Moe’s materials which help in describing the concept to the speakers who are coming up with the words. Below that, we see the list of words that have been elicited for this concept.

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