The Linguist's Shoebox
Integrated data management and analysis for the field linguist
Lexical databases can contain multiple data fields for definitions and glosses.
Lexical databases that are used for interlinearizing texts and for building a dictionary can contain multiple data fields for definitions and glosses. In Shoebox, a researcher can use a single lexical database for multiple purposesinformation that is not relevant to a particular audience or purpose is ignored. The Multi-Dictionary Formatter (MDF) provides definition, gloss, and "reversal" fields for English, national, and regional language audiences. When you enter data, you need to understand the rules for conditional selection of "gloss-type" information:
|Data fields||Dictionary||Gloss index||Interlinear text|
|Definition||\de, \dn, \dr||Printed||Not printed||Not used|
|Gloss||\ge, \gn, \gr||Conditionally printed
(if no definition)
(if no "reversal")
(if included in the interlinear setup)
|"Reversal"||\re, \rn, \rr||Not printed||Printed||Not used|
Here are some situations and the fields that you should enter in a lexical database record:
- Occasionally, a single gloss can be used for interlinearizing and indexing and even as the definition of the lexeme. Enter a single gloss field.
- Even when a single gloss can be used for interlinearizing, multiple "translation approximations" might be needed for indexing the lexeme (i.e., looking it up in the "finderlist"). Enter multiple "reversal" fields. Note: The single interlinear gloss shows the emic unity of the vernacular language lexeme, but the multiple etic indexing glosses make it more accessable in the language of description.
- Definitions represent a serious attempt to characterize the meaning of the lexeme in a precise way. Enter a definition field. Note: Since it takes a lot of work to write a good definition, in the process of compiling a lexicon it is common for far more lexemes to be just glossed, than to be both glossed and defined.
- To a growing number of linguists and lexicographers, definitions should include both denotative meaning (i.e., a word's "objective" referential meaning) and connotative meaning (i.e., the "subjective" emotional associations with a word). These can both be included in the definition field or the connotative information can be entered in an encyclopedic information field.
For more information, read section 2.3 in Making Dictionaries.