example sentences in a dictionary

Bill Poser billposer2 at GMAIL.COM
Sun Oct 24 03:59:33 UTC 2010

While not intending to disparage example sentences, which can be quite
useful, I suggest that they sometimes serve as a crutch. That is, the very
fact that they are so useful often reveals inadequate analysis and
presentation of information. Of course, that is to be expected in earlier
stages of work, but at some point one wants to figure out exactly what a
word means and define it properly, to work out its syntax, etc. A plethora
of example sentences often serve to allow the diligent reader to work these
things out, to varying degrees of adequacy and accuracy, when the author of
the dictionary has not done so. In many cases, the number of example
sentences can and should be reduced in favour of better definitions and
grammatical information.

Of course, one wants to have access to the data on which the information in
the dictionary is based, but it does not necessarily all belong in the
dictionary, especially if the dictionary is on paper and/or aimed at less
advanced users.
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