Lexical Database Software

Dave Wilton dave at WILTON.NET
Mon May 17 02:06:48 UTC 2004

What I am looking for is much simpler. I am simply looking for a database in
which to store citations for particular words or phrases. The electronic
equivalent of note cards. There are various bibliographic databases out
their like Endnote and ProCite, but these are expensive (several hundreds of
dollars) and not designed for lexicographic work--although they can be
modified (in which case I might as well use Access).

This is a trivial use of a relational database. I was only hoping that one
would was already created, saving me several days of work.

--Dave Wilton
  dave at wilton.net

> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU]On Behalf
> Of James A. Landau
> Sent: Sunday, May 16, 2004 4:38 PM
> Subject: Re: Lexical Database Software
> In a message dated  Sat, 15 May 2004 17:35:17 -0700,  Dave Wilton
> <dave at WILTON.NET> begs:
> >  Does anyone know of a database structure for lexical entries
> that is either
> >  free or moderately priced and that uses Microsoft Access or similar
> database
> >  software? I'm basically talking about a database for recording
> citations
> and
> >  source material. I'm not looking for data, just the database structure.
> >
> >  I've been in need of such a thing for a while now. My MS
> Access skills are
> >  long atrophied and I hesitate to try and create one myself--I
> would spend
> >  many long hours just trying to figure out how to create it in Access.
> What you are asking for is beyond the capabilities of MS Access
> or any other
> relational database.
> A relational database is designed for efficient access to what we call
> "atomic" data.  This is the old Greek meaning of "atomic" rather
> than the one from
> nuclear physics:  a datum which is not splittable into pieces but
> which you
> want to look at in one indivisible chunk.  Example:  first name.
> A relational
> database is quite good at extracting records for everyone in the
> database with
> the first name "Dave"  but is simply not designed to do a search
> for everyone
> whose first name includes the character string "...ave...",
> because that search
> requires that first-name NOT be an atomic datum.
> Could you use ACCESS or another relational database for storing citations?
> With some work, yes, IF you are willing to accept that the atomic
> datum in your
> database is a WORD, where word is defined as "letters surrounded
> by spaces or
> punctuation characters".  You could even search for multi-word phrases by
> searching for the first word of the phrase and within the results you get
> checking for second, third, etc. word.  This is what a Web search
> engine like Google
> does, although the well-known search engines have elaborate editing
> capabilities for such things as recognizing that you are
> searching on a personal name
> with a middle initial in it and therefore return any results that
> match on first
> name and last name only.  For example, the engine when asked for "James A.
> Landau" will return anything with "James Landau" but not anything
> referring to
> "James E. F. Landau" (who by the way is a linguist of some notoriety).
> You could even in ACCESS catch a certain percentage of misspelled words by
> using Soundex or similar codes.
> However, if you are interested in using ACCESS to search for strings of
> characters instead of strings of words, then you are pounding nails with a
> screwdriver.  What you need is fairly sophisticated
> pattern-matching software, which
> is, through no fault of Microsoft or of relational database
> theory, a different
> can of worms.
> So, I will modify your request to the ADS list to read: can
> anyone help Mr.
> Wilton find free or cheap pattern-matching software that will be
> apprpriate for
> a lexical database of citations?
> Aside to Barry Popik: I would have to see your list of what you want in a
> database for a food dictionary to give you an answer.  However,
> if you are
> willing to live wtih the requirement that your atomic unit be an
> English word, you
> might well be able to live with an ACCESS database, probably with a fairly
> minimal VBA (Visual Basic for ACCESS) front end.
>         - James A. Landau

More information about the Ads-l mailing list