[Lexicog] Semantic domain dictionaries

Lou Hohulin lou_hohulin at SIL.ORG
Fri May 14 14:42:40 UTC 2004


Just a quick message. Many years ago when I was in grad school I ran across
a book (forgotten the actual title and compiler) that had 'Indo-European
Synonyms' in the title. Semantic domains were used to classify the synonyms.
I began with those semantic domains and worked with speakers of Keley-i
(Austronesian language), and later with Tuwali Ifugao (also Austronesian)

What impressed me most is that they classified less on features than on
function. So for example, betelnut and coconut palms were not classified as
trees because they were not used as firewood. That was their main
explanation -- another person said that the palms didn't have branches like
trees (a feature).

Non-human, animate things (animals and insects) were often classified on the
basis of how they moved (legs and no legs) so worms and snakes were put
together, and some insects that have legs were classified along with
quadrupeds. Whether or not insects sting was another criterial component for
classification. A time duration component seemed to differentiate activities
from actions and the morphology tends to give evidence for that.

One old woman brought specimens of plant life to show me what these things
looked like. But again, the main classification was whether or not any of
them were useful.

That's all I have time for now.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Wayne Leman" <wayne_leman at sil.org>
To: <lexicographylist at yahoogroups.com>
Sent: Wednesday, May 12, 2004 7:19 AM
Subject: [Lexicog] Semantic domain dictionaries

> Have you ever worked on a semantic domain dictionary of a language? If so,
> would you please share with list subscribers how the native speakers of
> language responded to studying semantic domains? For instance, did they
> to approach the lexicon of their language more naturally by semantic
> than they would approach it alphabetically?
> I would appreciate comments from as many of you on the list as possible. I
> would especially find interesting anecdotes about how native speakers of
> language took to researching natural semantic groupings of terms within
> their lexicon.
> Thanks,
> Wayne
> -----
> Wayne Leman
> Cheyenne website: http://www.geocities.com/cheyenne_language
> Yahoo! Groups Links

------------------------ Yahoo! Groups Sponsor ---------------------~-->
Make a clean sweep of pop-up ads. Yahoo! Companion Toolbar.
Now with Pop-Up Blocker. Get it for free!

Yahoo! Groups Links

<*> To visit your group on the web, go to:

<*> To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
     lexicographylist-unsubscribe at yahoogroups.com

<*> Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to:

More information about the Lexicography mailing list