The Linguist's Shoebox
Integrated data management and analysis for the field linguist
Publishing a series of topically-oriented volumes contributes to completion of a dictionary.
In a dictionary project that might take 10 to 15 years, there are often demands to demontrate progress along the way. Attempting to publish the semi-edited contents of a lexical database would require work that might not contribute toward the completion of the dictionary. By working carefully through different vernacular generic terms or semantic domains (e.g., birds, fish, plants), researchers can publish a series of separate topically-oriented volumes whose quality is similar to the complete dictionary. This approach
- fosters and incorporates community involvement,
- develops a community of readers who have a growing ability to use reference-type material, and
- demonstrates progress and competent work to government officials and sponsoring agencies.
For example, a field linguist could study the generic term manut in Buru and publish a volume consisting of related words. (Note: From Proto Austronesian *manuk 'bird', manut encompasses flying creatures whose wings are easily distinguishable, including birds, bats, and butterflies, but not other flying creatures normally covered by the English generic term insect.) If you use the Multi-Dictionary Formatter (MDF), enter generic terms in the \th Thesaurus data field (or in the \sd Semantic domain data field) and use a filter to select the subset of related records to be exported for printing. For more information, read chapter 10 and sections 4.1, 6.4, and 8.1 in Making Dictionaries.