example sentences in a dictionary

Dorothee Beermann dorothee.beermann at HF.NTNU.NO
Sun Oct 24 10:51:32 UTC 2010

Hi Bill, Hi all,

what you report, Bill,  does make a lot of sense also in the light of my 

The process of combining glossed examples with dictionary entries was in 
work on a dialect lexicon for a West African language at the same time a 
process of  improving the information given in the dictionary entries.

Providing online access to our example sentences was an important point, 
the work we did was done as graduate work, and getting it published
or even circulated was for several reasons impossible.

Putting all up online would have been even better, but, as always, there was
not enough time and resources.

Allow me to say that I appreciate the dictionary discussion on the list.
I noted down useful information and in all I think it is a nice example 
of how a
discussion of problems can be encouraging. :-)


>   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.

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

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Tel.:    +47 73 596525

E-mail:  dorothee.beermann at hf.ntnu.no


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