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What exactly IS a dictionary anyway?

From:Gary Shannon <fiziwig@...>
Date:Wednesday, November 1, 2006, 6:56
In the process of researching existing dictionaries with an eye toward wiriting
a decent, flexible conlang dictionary generator of some sort has lead me to
wonder exactly what it is I'm trying to accomplish. In the final analysis, a
dictionary is tool used by someone wishing to translate something from one
language to another, or by someone wishing to learn a second language by
referencing concpets in his or her first language to the language being
learned. Thus the need to "look things up." But the thing you need to look up
is not always as simple as some single word. More often it is a meaning,
usually a word in a particular context: not "house" but "court house" or "chart
house", "house fly", or "housing boom".

I have more or less been guided by my own experience with print dictionaries,
but I ran across this dictionary that I'm really excited about:

Go to the English to German section and type in the English word "house" for
example, and you get a wealth of information on not just the bare German word
"haus", but how to express a wide range of related compounds, phrases and
idioms in German. This strikes me as a great deal more useful than the
traditional print dictionary, and a great deal easier to implement since the
database behind it would only need to have two fields; one for an English word,
phrase, compound or idiom, and one for the equivalent in German. Then the
search could simply look for occurances of that word in one field or the other
and display the results. Nothing could be simpler, and yet the results, it
seems to me, would be extremely useful; much more useful than a traditional
alphabetically arranged tabular dictionary.

The advantage is that the organization is not based on "words", but on units of
meaning. Things that are one word in language A might be a 2 or 3 word phrase
in language B. This structure captures that and does away with the notion that
one can look at a word isolated and trapped in a cage and get a complete
picture of how it behaves in the wild. Here we have a chance to observe each
word in its natural habitat, which gives us a much better feeling for it.

This kind of make the whole concept of "dictionary" so 20th century; so

The database would be simplicity itself, and would look something like this
small English-German fragment:

It doesn't matter what order it's in because we wouldn't be "reading" it like a
book, but searching for occurances of a particular word, like "house".

adj | house-trained (Brit.)              | stubenrein
adj | in-house                           | betriebseigen
adj | in-house                           | betriebsintern
adj | in-house                           | intern
adj | in-house [comm.]                   | unternehmensintern
adj | in-house [econ.]                   | firmenintern
n   | house - a family or family lineage | das Geschlecht - Sippe
n   | house                              | das Haus
n   | housefly   also: house fly         | die Stubenfliege
n   | open house                         | Tag der offenen Tür
n   | out-house                          | das Plumpsklo
n   | the house (of) - family            | das Geschlecht
nc  | abandoned house                    | verlassenes Haus
nc  | acceptance house [bank.]           | das Akzept-Haus
nc  | acceptance house [bank.]           | die Akzeptbank
nc  | accepting house (Brit.)            | die Akzeptbank
nc  | ale-house                          | die Bierkneipe
nc  | ale house                          | die Bierkneipe
nc  | ale house                          | die Bierstube
nc  | apartment house                    | das Mietshaus
nc  | apartment house                    | das Wohnhaus
nc  | apartment house (Amer.)            | das Mehrfamilienhaus
nc  | banking house [bank.]              | das Bankhaus
nc  | bath house                         | das Badehaus
np  | a derelict house                   | ein heruntergekommenes Haus
np  | the house of                       | der Stamm
ph  | a house of one's own               | ein eigenes Haus
ph  | arrangement of a house             | Einrichtung eines Hauses
ph  | house for sale                     | Haus zu verkaufen
ph  | manufactured in-house              | eigengefertigt
ph  | on the house [coll.]               | aufs Haus [coll.]
ph  | this one's on the house            | das geht aufs Haus
v   | to house                           | aufnehmen
v   | to house                           | beherbergen
v   | to house                           | im Haus unterbringen
v   | to house                           | unterbringen
v   | to house [aviat.]                  | unterbringen
v   | to house [tech.]                   | anordnen
vp  | to address the House               | sich an das Haus wenden
vp  | to attend the House                | im Parlament anwesend sein
vp  | to bring down the house            | stürmischen Beifall ernten
vp  | to bring the house down            | stürmischen Beifall ernten
vp  | to burgle a house                  | in ein Haus einbrechen
vp  | to eat so. out of house and home   | jmdm. die Haare vom Kopf fressen
vp  | to have a house built              | ein Haus bauen lassen
vp  | to house-train (Brit.)             | stubenrein machen
vp  | to keep house                      | den Haushalt führen
vp  | to keep house                      | wirtschaften
vp  | to let a house                     | ein Haus vermieten
vp  | to move house                      | umziehen
vp  | to move house                      | zügeln (Schweiz)
vp  | to occupy a house                  | ein Haus bewohnen
vp  | to play house                      | Vater-Mutter-Kind spielen
vp  | to search a house                  | ein Haus durchsuchen
vp  | to vacate a house                  | ein Haus frei machen
...etc.. for a hundred or more "house" entries.



taliesin the storyteller <taliesin-conlang@...>