Archive | March, 2015

The future of the dictionary!

3 Mar


On Friday, I had a chance to go to’s round-table on The Future of the Dictionary. You can see my presentation at the bottom of the post. It’s called “Counts, Comparisons, Collocations, Contestations: Towards a Dictionary of the Future”. (Sorry, titles are hard and I like alliteration.)

But first, some quick notes from other folks who presented:

  • Sarah Ogilvie discussed how resources for endangered languages can feel magical. Will dictionaries of the future fill you with wonder?
    • Sarah also works on digital humanities, so you might get a kick of Figure 1 here, which shows which words are shouted in English novels.
  • Joan Hall talked about making an API for the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE), go email them about how you would use it so they can get funding.
  • Orion Montoya went through thoughts on what a computationally-oriented dictionary would look like, highlighting the problems of understanding context.
    • Orion showed a lot of different definitions, but one that sticks with me is by Anna Wierzbicka. She’s been working to see if she can use only 63 “semantic primitives” to build up definitions. Could every concept in every language be defined by combining 63 basic building blocks? Her definition of trauma reads like a poem:

Thanks to Rebekah Otto and Jane Solomon for the invite! Btw, the most looked-up word on this January was definition.

– Tyler Schnoebelen (@TSchnoebelen)