Fwd: example sentences in a dictionary

Jenny Green jenny.green at IINET.NET.AU
Sat Oct 23 21:10:49 UTC 2010

> Hi all
> Yes, i agree with Alex. The Arandic language dictionaries are very rich in example sentences which exemplify different senses of words and supply much cultural information etc. However, they are written in 'standard' orthography (sometimes a vexed issue nevertheless) and the dictionaries are aimed at everyone - native speakers, linguists, translators, health workers, school staff etc etc. The reality is that it is difficult enough to get any dictionaries published without imagining that there will be multiple tailor-made versions for different audiences. The use of hyphens is part of the orthographic system, and even though there is variation in their use we have all attempted to formulate rules about them (for example monosyllabic suffixes are not hyphenated whereas multisyllabic ones are). If the voluminous text in these dictionaries had been further segmented orthographically on a morpheme by morpheme basis then the text, i think, would be unreadable, longer, and it would certainly confound attempts to use the dictionary as a standard for teaching vernacular literacy. 
> I reckon anyway...
> Cheers
> Jenny
> On 23/10/2010, at 3:27 PM, Alex Francois wrote:
>> dear all,
>> I entirely agree with Eva and Ruth's points, that example sentences are indispensable in a dictionary.  I could not conceive writing a dictionary without exemplifying each separate sense with at least one example -- ideally taken from spontaneous speech rather than elicitation.
>> However, I think Laura initially asked a different question, which has not been answered fully yet.  Her question was whether example sentences in a dictionary should include the representation of morpheme boundaries [e.g. ni-abad=na i arikawat=na] or not [e.g. niabadna i arikawatna.].  This may seem like a trivial question of formatting, but in some cases (perhaps for some languages more than others) it is a real issue.
>> One dimension which Laura did not mention explicitly, but is relevant at least in the languages I know, is the issue of what audience is the target of the dictionary.  The divide, as I see it, is essentially that linguists would like to see morpheme boundaries specified, including with a refined contrast between affixes and clitics...;   BUT that native speakers (at least in the languages where I work) typically dislike hyphens and '=' signs etc, and would like the forms to appear non-parsed. To some readers, these symbols we use turn out to be as much a hindrance as if we used IPA in the middle of words.
>> So what may seem to be a sensible answer "Include as much information as you can." is not necessarily the final answer, because "more informative" to the linguist might correlate with "less easy to read" to the native speaker.  Cf. the example cited by Peter Austin.  Peter's suggestion (to have 2 separate solutions, try them out, publish them separately online etc.) may be worth a try, even if it also comes with its own shortcomings in terms of duplicating effort.
>> In a similar way, linguists would like all text collections to include a row of interlinear glosses;   but while this is indeed valuable to the linguist, this is often burdensome to native speakers (or to anthropologists and other non-linguists, for that matter), who are often put off by such formatting choices.
>> In some cases at least (depending on the language, the literacy of native speakers, the nature of the publication...) one may have to make a painful decision, as to which audience we want to favour:  native speakers (and other non-linguists), or linguists?  This is not a pleasant dilemma, and I sympathise with Laura's problem.
>> best,
>> Alex.
>> LACITO - CNRS, France
>> 2009-2012: Visiting Fellow
>>  Linguistics
>>  School of Culture, History and Language
>>  Australian National University
>>  ACT 0200, Australia
>> Home address:
>>  31 Ainsworth St, Mawson, ACT 2607, Australia
>>  ph:  [h] (+61)-2-6166 5569
>>       [w] (+61)-2-6125 1664
>>       [mob] (+61)-4-50 960 042
>>       http://alex.francois.free.fr
>> Subject:	Re: example sentences in a dictionary
>> Sent:	Sat, 23 Oct 2010 12:59:07 +1100
>> From:	Ruth Singer <r.singer at latrobe.edu.au>
>> To:	Eva Schultze-Berndt <Eva.Schultze-Berndt at manchester.ac.uk>
>> Cc:	Laura C Robinson <lcrobinson at alaska.edu>, Dorothee Beermann <dorothee.beermann at hf.ntnu.no>, r-n-l-d <r-n-l-d at unimelb.edu.au>
>>> Hi Laura,
>>> I'd have to agree with Eva. I find that its only by adding example
>>> sentences to my dictionary of Mawng (Australia) that it becomes clear
>>> just how many different uses each word can have. So the collection of
>>> example sentences motivate the structure of entries in terms of how
>>> many senses a more 'lexical' word has or how many functions a more
>>> grammatical word has.
>>> Ruth
>>> On Fri, Oct 22, 2010 at 6:47 PM, Eva Schultze-Berndt
>>> <Eva.Schultze-Berndt at manchester.ac.uk> wrote:
>>>> Hi Laura,
>>>> Thanks for the preview! I think example sentences are actually very helpful
>>>> for illustration of the meaning and collocational use of lexical entries
>>>> too, not just grammatical morphemes - though there are obviously issues of
>>>> time (in preparing the dictionary) and printing costs to be considered.
>>>> Best wishes
>>>> Eva
>>>> Quoting lcrobinson at alaska.edu:
>>>>> Thanks, everyone.  What I am hearing (both on and off the list) is
>>>>> that, for linguists, the more information the better.  So I will fully
>>>>> parse the example sentences and consider some of the other suggestions
>>>>> as well.
>>>>> If folks are interested, I've attached a PDF of the dictionary with
>>>>> only those entries that have example sentences.  These have now been
>>>>> broken down.  You will see that the majority of the entries with
>>>>> example sentences are grammatical morphemes because I believe those
>>>>> are the most important to illustrate with examples, and I don't want
>>>>> to clutter the dictionary with example sentences that don't actually
>>>>> provide further information to elucidate the entry.
>>>>> Cheers,
>>>>> Laura
>>>>> --
>>>>> Laura C. Robinson
>>>>> Postdoctoral Researcher
>>>>> Department of Linguistics
>>>>> University of Alaska, Fairbanks
>>>>> http://go.alaska.edu/lcrobinson
>>>>> On Wed, Oct 20, 2010 at 11:51 PM, Dorothee Beermann
>>>>> <dorothee.beermann at hf.ntnu.no> wrote:
>>>>>> Dear Laura, Hi all,
>>>>>> I do not know what the best will be in your case, but I
>>>>>> would like to report on our experience with the integration of
>>>>>> annotated examples into a Bono (Abron) dictionary.
>>>>>> (Bono is a dialect of Akan spoken in Ghana).
>>>>>> We combined a Toolbox dictionary and Interlinear glosses edited
>>>>>> in TypeCraft.
>>>>>> The 1500 word dictionary of Akan produced at the University of Ghana
>>>>>> in Legon features example sentences, yet these examples were not
>>>>>> annotated,
>>>>>> and  we found them less helpful for learners of Akan and for linguists
>>>>>> which
>>>>>> are the target group of the Legon Akan lexicon.
>>>>>> I have sent you a sample of the dictionary in a separate mail.
>>>>>> If you are interested in the example sentences you might want to look at
>>>>>> them
>>>>>> online by going to www.typeCraft.org.
>>>>>> Use one of the browsers listed on the TypeCraft main page. Go to *Text
>>>>>> search* in the navigation bar on the left of your browser window and
>>>>>> specify'Abron' as language. The annotator and the author of the Bono
>>>>>> lexicon
>>>>>> is Bright Amoah. He did this work for his master's thesis.
>>>>>> Best
>>>>>> Dorothee
>>>>>>> Hello all,
>>>>>>> I am wondering about formatting example sentences in a dictionary.
>>>>>>> This dictionary is aimed at linguistic audiences (it will be bundled
>>>>>>> with the grammar, and it is written in English, which no Agta people
>>>>>>> speak yet).  In the grammar section, I used - for a morpheme boundary
>>>>>>> and = for a clitic boundary.  So, should the example sentences in the
>>>>>>> dictionary be broken down in the same way?  Or not at all?  Or some
>>>>>>> other way (although I would like to do something that isn't too
>>>>>>> inconsistent with the grammar section)?
>>>>>>> abad
>>>>>>> iabad v. tie something around waist
>>>>>>> Obus pag-man, ni-abad=na i arikawat=na
>>>>>>> OR
>>>>>>> Obus pagman, niabadna i arikawatna.
>>>>>>> 'After chewing betel, he tied his betel nut pack around his waist.'
>>>>>>> This sentence has a very typical amount of morphology.
>>>>>>> Thanks,
>>>>>>> Laura
>>>>>>> --
>>>>>>> Laura C. Robinson
>>>>>>> Postdoctoral Researcher
>>>>>>> Department of Linguistics
>>>>>>> University of Alaska, Fairbanks
>>>>>>> http://go.alaska.edu/lcrobinson
>>>>>> --
>>>>>> Dr. Dorothee Beermann, assoc. prof.
>>>>>> Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)
>>>>>> Dept. of Language and Communication Studies (ISK)
>>>>>> Surface mail to: NO-7491 Trondheim, Norway/Norge
>>>>>> Visit:   Dragvoll, Bldg. 4, Floor 5, Room 4504, NO-7049
>>>>>> Tel.:    +47 73 596525
>>>>>> E-mail:  dorothee.beermann at hf.ntnu.no
>>>>>> Homepage:
>>>>>> http://www.hf.ntnu.no/hf/isk/Ansatte/dorothee.beermann/personInfo.html
>>>> ------------------------
>>>> Prof. Eva Schultze-Berndt
>>>> Head of Discipline, Linguistics and English Language
>>>> School of Languages, Linguistics and Cultures
>>>> University of Manchester
>>>> Oxford Road
>>>> Manchester M13 9PL, UK
>>>> E-mail: eva.schultze-berndt at manchester.ac.uk
>>>> http://www.llc.manchester.ac.uk/subjects/lel/staff/eva-schultze-berndt/
> Jenny Green
> jenny.green at iinet.net.au
> 0393282660
> 0428562830

Jenny Green
jenny.green at iinet.net.au

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