Lexicographer's dilemma

Bruce Dykes bkd at GRAPHNET.COM
Mon Jun 12 07:09:14 UTC 2000

-----Original Message-----
Date: Friday, June 09, 2000 11:01 AM
Subject: Re: Lexicographer's dilemma

>When the meaningful elements of a saying vary in this way, what does
>a lexicographer do?  How can it be entered in a dictionary so that it
>will be found?  About 8 years ago American Speech published a note
>from me giving late 19th century occurences of similar variable
>expressions:  "Your money [dough] is no good [doesn't go] in this
>joint [town, up here]", expressing the idea that that the speaker
>will pay for everything, and "I can do that standing on my head
>[hands]", expressing disdain for a term of imprisonment.

At some point we may get the "what is that phrase/word I'm looking for?"

Something that you can ask a nice open-ended question like..."what's that
British phrase, about everything being safe...?" and it'll return a whole
bucketload of British phrases that fit, no matter how tangentially.

How would this have to work? There would have to be a large degree of
natural language processing, to break it down to components, after which a
thesaurus search/list generation would begin. Geography and age would serve
as search modifiers. Following the synonym list generation, a straight
search will return all potentially matching phrases. If we're very lucky,
the machines get fast enough that the intermediate steps seem to vanish.
Unless of course the internal phrase list+thesaurus grows faster than
processing power...

See, it's really just an engineering problem...<G>

Shortly after that dictionary is created, expect the mythical DWIM (Do What
I Mean) key to be created...8-)


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