[Lexicog] English-Vernacular dictionaries?

Mike Maxwell maxwell at LDC.UPENN.EDU
Wed Feb 8 14:08:08 UTC 2006

Have you looked at the wiktionary? http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Main_Page
They encourage free use.

Allan Johnson wrote:
> So that's where my question to you all comes in. Have any of you done an
> English-Vernacular dictionary? Do any of you have an English lexical
> database that could be made available to other language projects as a
> starting point for other English-Vernacular dictionaries?

As for copyright on dictionaries, this came up lots when I worked at the 
LDC (U Penn).  The generalization which we worked under is that form 
(including allomorphs), part of speech and gloss (translation 
equivalent) are not copyrightable, because these are properties of a 
language, not of a dictionary per se.  Pretty much everything else you 
might find in a dictionary is copyrightable, such as sense distinctions 
(in theory, this would be non-copyrightable, except that in practice 
there are different ways to cut up meaning--think splitters vs. 
joiners), example sentences, etc.  And glosses could be debatable, if a 
dictionary had a long list of them--typically such lists represent 
someone's view of senses and sense distinctions.

But I'm not a lawyer, and you shouldn't trust my word on this.

BTW, it is at least rumored that some large dictionaries include a few 
non-words, as a way of detecting copyright violations.

    Mike Maxwell

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