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Re: Another resource for filling out your lexicon

From:Herman Miller <hmiller@...>
Date:Sunday, September 17, 2006, 22:56
Alex Fink wrote:
> 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.
Thanks for the link; that could be useful.
> 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? > > Alex
The majority of the Minza vocabulary is arranged in categories. Some of the categories also have subcategories; the overall category of "space" for instance has subcategories of "directions", "dimensions", "measurement", "shapes". Many of the verbs fall into the "actions" category, which has subcategories of "planning", "causation", "creation", "motion", "transfer", "using", and "alteration". The category of "musical instruments" (itself under "music", which is under "arts") has a number of main categories such as "aerophones" and "idiophones", and some of these are further subdivided into smaller groups such as "double reeds". It's tempting to use scientific classification for animals and plants, but I've been wondering if there's a better way for words of a language. It might be nice to divide "plants" into "trees", "bushes", "small flowering plants", and so on. But where do you go from there? You could divide trees into conifers and the rest, classify them by the bark texture or leaf shape, and so on. But I don't know much about trees; I hear a word like "elm" and know that it's some kind of tree, but if you show me a bunch of pictures of trees and ask me to point out the elm, I'd have to guess. So I fall back on the scientific classification, even though that puts trees into a bunch of different groups and mixes them up with smaller plants. A while back I took the Minza category list and adapted it for the Lindiga vocabulary; since an earlier version of Lindiga was the initial vocabulary source for Minza, this approach worked well, and I've since put more development into the Lindiga category list that hasn't been reflected in the Minza vocabulary. Nimrina is also using a category system based on the Minza vocabulary list, although I don't yet have many actual Nimrina words. Other languages such as Yasaro have their own category lists. I think probably Tirelat or Ludireo were among the earliest of my languages to use any kind of classification system for vocabulary. I didn't do that back in the pencil and paper days.