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Another resource for filling out your lexicon

From:Alex Fink <a4pq1injbok_0@...>
Date:Sunday, September 17, 2006, 7:38
I was stumbling around SIL's webpage recently when I came upon this:
It's part of the DDP, a suite of tools and resources for developing
dictionaries for minority languages, so there's probably other good stuff
there too.  But the list of semantic domains available at that particular
page is what got my attention: it's a big comprehensive taxonomically
organized picture of semantic space, with a list of questions for eliciting
words in each semantic domain.  The whole thing has 1793 nodes in the
taxonomy and 41889 English lexemes as examples.

Here's an example category (in raw but readable format):

\is 1.1.1
\sd Sun
\ixu 1.1
\ix Moon
\ix Star
\ix Planet

\dd Use this domain for words related to the sun. The sun does three basic
things. It moves, it gives light, and it gives heat. These three actions are
involved in the
meanings of most of the words in this domain. Since the sun moves below the
horizon, many words refer to it setting or rising. Since the sun is above the
clouds, many words refer to it moving behind the clouds and the clouds
blocking its light. The sun's light and heat also produce secondary effects.
The sun
causes plants to grow, and it causes damage to things.
\cf Light; Shadow; Time of the day

\qu (1) What words refer to the sun?
\ex sun, solar, sol, daystar, our star
\qu (2) What words refer to how the sun moves?
\ex rise, set, cross the sky, come up, go down, sink
\qu (3) What words refer to the time when the sun rises?
\ex dawn, sunrise, sunup, daybreak, cockcrow
\xe We got up before <dawn>, in order to get an early start.
\qu (4) What words refer to the time when the sun is at its highest point?
\ex noon, zenith
\qu (5) What words refer to the time when the sun sets?
\ex sunset, dusk, sundown, twilight, eventide
\qu (6) What words refer to when the sun is shining?
\ex shine, sunny, bright, give light, be sunshiny, daytime
\qu (7) What words refer to the sun shining through the clouds?
\ex come out, break through (the clouds), go behind (a cloud)
\qu (8) What words describe where the sun is shining?
\ex sunlit, be (out) in the sun, lit by the sun, shine on, be in the
sunlight, sunny (spot)
\qu (9) What words describe when or where the sun doesn't shine?
\ex shade, eclipse of the sun, sunless, shady, shadow, eclipse (v)
\qu (10) What words refer to the light of the sun?
\ex sunlight, ray, sunshine, beam, light, sunbeam, radiance, glow, sparkle,
glisten, glare
\qu (11) What words describe the brightness of the sun?
\ex bright, intense, brilliant, blinding, glaring, glistening, luminous, dim
\qu (12) What refer to the sun heating things?
\ex warm, heat, dry
\qu (13) What else does the sun do?
\ex looks down on
\qu (14) What words describe the damage done by sunlight?
\ex sunburn, sunstroke, suntan, tan, heatstroke, heat prostration, sun
damage, fading from the sun, bleached by the sun
\qu (15) What do people use to protect themselves from the sun?
\ex sunglasses, shade tree, suntan lotion, awning, sun umbrella, parasol,
sunbonnet, hat, visor
\qu (16) What words are used of telling time by the sun?
\ex sundial, angle of the sun, sun-clock, shoot the sun, position of the sun
\qu (17) What words refer to using the power of the sun?
\ex solar energy, solar power, solar panel
\dt 29/Mar/2006

Building your lexicon systematically according to some sort of taxonomy
strikes me as a good idea, in that it makes explicit the various divisions
of semantic space that your lang's lexemes are creating, especially if
you're intending to have these divisions be coherently different to the way
familiar languages do it.  But I've never done this myself, except in a few
small domains, like colors.  Has anyone?



Herman Miller <hmiller@...>