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Lecture Summary (10/24/06)

At the start of our 2nd meeting we took once again a brief look at the class topics during the semester. Afterwards we proceeded with last week's homework (see last summary) and a short revision.

The first major topic of the lecture was "The Meaning of a Dictionary: Information". Right at the beginning of every dictionary there is the so called metadata. This term describes the catalogue information about the production of the dictionary which is intended for dictionary identification. But the more important aspect for our purpose are off course the different types of lexical information in the dictionary entries themselves:

  • form/appearance (e.g. spelling, pronounciation)
  • structure/formulation (e.g. construction of words, place of words in larger constructions like sentences)
  • content/meaning (contains definition, relation with other words and examples)

After that we dealed with the theme of definitions. First of all we learned something about the basic definition types:

  • Standard dictionary definition: definition by nearest kind and specific differences; X is a Y kind of Z (e.g. a baby is a young kind of child)
  • Contextual definition: the term is used by embedding it in a larger expression containing its explanation
  • Recursive definition: defines something in terms of itself; contains base condition, recursive condition and exclusion condition (e.g. definition of prime numbers)
  • Real definition: ostensive definition (conveys the meaning of a term by pointing out examples); models (e.g. showing the picture of an ellipse to define the term "ellipse" )
  • Circular definition (should be avoided): uses the term being defined as a part of its own definition

Subsequently we took a look at the components of definitions. For this purpose we used the definition of the word "poodle" as an example: "a dog with thick curling hair". In this case "a dog" is the genus proxiumum while "with thick curling hair" forms the differentia specifica. The genus proximum has to be seen in a hierarchy or tree structure (poodle -> dog -> animal).




Definition: a form of words which states the meaning of a term, eather meaning in general use (descriptive definition) or the meaning which the speaker intends to impose upon it for the purpose of his or her discourse (stipulative definition); contains definiendum (term to be defined) and definiens (form of words which defines the definiendum)

Explanation: a statement which points to causes, context and consequences of some object, process, state of affairs,etc. together with rules or laws that link these to the object; can only be given by those with understanding of the object

Find dictionary definitions of 5 different words of different parts of speech and give examples of genus proximum and differentia specifica

genus proximum = red; differentia specifica = blue

tree (noun): a plant having a permanently woody main stem or trunk, ordinarily growing to a considerable height and usually developing branches at some distance from the ground

underestimate (verb): to estimate at too low a value, rate or the like

heavy (adjective): of great weight

and (conjunction): conjunction used to connect words, phrases or clauses that have the same grammatical function in a construction

badly (adverb): in a bad manner

1.11.06 16:56

Lecture Summary (10/31/06)

The third lecture was almost completely occupied by repetition because of the many questions by the students about the orginisation or some parts of the content of the two previous meetings. Mr. Gibbon made every effort to solve each problem and to answer the questions as detailed as possible. This led to the fact that we had only a few minutes time to talk about new aspects.
12.11.06 18:57

Lecture Summary (11/07/06)

The headline of the fourth How To Make a Dictionary lecture was called "The architecture of a dictionary".

There are four important parts to be considered in this respect:

  1. Megastructure: the entire structure of the dictionary, including the front matter, abbreviations and explanations of grammar, the body of the dictionary and the back matter
  2. Macrostructure: the organisation of the lexical entries in the body of a dictionary into lists, tree structures or networks; types of macrostructure: semasiological, onomasiological
  3. Microstructure: the consistent organisation of lexical information within lexical entries in the dictionary
  4. Mesostructure: the set of relations between lexical entries and other entities such as other parts of a dictionary or a text corpus
20.11.06 19:34

Lecture Summary (11/14/06)

The fifth session had the topic "Lexical databases".

To give us an overview of surface structures Mr Gibbon introduced the OneLook Multiple Dictionary ( to us. This site gives you the opportunity to search for a certain word and receive entries in several different dictionaries.

Afterwards we concentrated on the deep structure of dictionaries, especially on tables. We learned that a table is in fact the basic form of semasiological dictionaries: the rows are lexical entries with a specific microstructure, the columns are single types of lexical information.

Mr Gibbon showed us how to create a table with Open Office, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel or even how to program it using HTML.

For the purpose of getting familiar to the handling of tables we were instructed to create one by ourselves. I decided to list up some of my favorite CDs.






Pet Sounds

The Beach Boys

Capitol Records



The Beatles

EMI Records Ltd.


Tea For The Tillerman

Cat Stevens

Universal Records


That's The Way It Is

Elvis Presley

RCA Records


Bridge Over Troubled Water

Simon & Garfunkel

Columbia Records


Born To Run

Bruce Springsteen

Columbia Records


20.11.06 20:22

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