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The Linguist's Shoebox

Integrated data management and analysis for the field linguist


Researchers should continually refine their notions about parts of speech categories.

Frequently, there are discrepancies between principles of linguistics and the practice of indicating parts of speech in dictionaries. Traditional parts of speech categories and terms commonly accepted in the nation or region in which the language is spoken are certainly a place to start, but they must not be simply assumed or blindly accepted. A fundamental principle underlying all analysis is determining whether two things are considered the same or different within the scope under scrutiny. That is, pinning linguistic labels on bits and pieces of a language is justifiable only where the structures of the language itself indicate contrastive patterns. You should define parts of speech categories that fit the language and make the dictionary useful. For more information, read chapter 9 in Making Dictionaries.

Index of tips: categories, parts of speech; lexicography; parts of speech
List of tips