Compiling dictionaries using semantic domains

  • R Moe


The task of providing dictionaries for all the world's languages is prodigious, re-quiring efficient techniques. The text corpus method cannot be used for minority languages lacking texts. To meet the need, the author has constructed a list of 1 600 semantic domains, which he has successfully used to collect words. In a workshop setting, a group of speakers can collect as many as 17 000 words in ten days. This method results in a classified word list that can be efficiently expanded into a full dictionary. The method works because the mental lexicon is a giant web or-ganized around key concepts. A semantic domain can be defined as an important concept together with the words directly related to it by lexical relations. A person can utilize the mental web to quickly jump from word to word within a domain. The author is developing a template for each domain to aid in collecting words and in de-scribing their semantics. Investigating semantics within the context of a domain yields many in-sights. The method permits the production of both alphabetically and semantically organized dic-tionaries. The list of domains is intended to be universal in scope and applicability. Perhaps due to universals of human experience and universals of linguistic competence, there are striking simi-larities in various lists of semantic domains developed for languages around the world. Using a standardized list of domains to classify multiple dictionaries opens up possibilities for cross-lin-guistic research into semantic and lexical universals. Keywords: semantic domains, semantic fields, semantic categories, lex-ical relations, semantic primitives, domain templates, mental lexicon, semantic universals, minority languages, lexicography

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2224-0039
print ISSN: 1684-4904