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The development of a dictionary is a complicated and time-consuming
task. The Dictionary Development Process was conceived as a tool to
facilitate and speed the process. Recent advances in lexicography
and semantic theory have suggested ways in which the process of
collecting and describing words can be systematized and made easy.
These advances include the theoretical concepts of semantic domains,
lexical relations, conceptual schemas, conceptual metaphors, and
prototype theory. DDP utilizes these theoretical insights in its
methodology. The DDP method is organized around five stages in
Stage 1: Collect words.
Many language development projects include the production of a
dictionary as one of their goals. However progress is often very
slow. It has been estimated that such a dictionary grows at the rate
of two and a half words per working day. At this rate a linguist
will collect 650 words a year, and will take 20 years to collect
12,000 words. Many linguists never get beyond 5,000 words, a figure
which represents the core vocabulary of a language. It takes
concerted effort and a systematic approach to move beyond this. DDP
provides just such a systematic approach. Using the DDP method many
linguists are collecting 10,000 to 12,000 words in a two-week
workshop. One team collected 23,000 words in two weeks.
Approximately 200 language development projects have already used
DDP to collect thousands of words in a surprisingly short time.
Stage 2: Fill in each field of the dictionary article.
A dictionary is more than just a collection of words. The words must
be described. Collecting and typing this information can take years
of painstaking work. Fortunately much of the work can be automated
using a computer. Instead of describing one word at a time, the
lexicographer can fill in one field (such as part of speech) at a
time. Such an approach can radically shorten the time needed. DDP
includes a step-by-step procedure and the computer tools needed to
implement this strategy using The Field Linguist's Toolbox. DDP has
also been integrated into SIL FieldWorks, which greatly improves the
ease and efficiency of developing a dictionary. FieldWorks has tools
specifically designed to do each step in the process.
Stage 3: Define each word.
The most difficult and time consuming aspect of lexicography is
semantic analysis and the writing of quality definitions. Work has
begun to develop materials to facilitate this stage of dictionary
development. The methodology looks promising, but the materials are
not yet available.
Stage 4: Edit each entry for publication.
Most lexicography software is designed to manage and edit a
dictionary database. FieldWorks has features and tools that
facilitate this stage.
Stage 5: Prepare the front and back matter.
A dictionary is more than a list of words. A published dictionary
has covers, a title page, copyright page, table of contents,
introduction, grammar sketch, indexes, and appendixes. FieldWorks
automatically generates a rough grammar sketch (which will need to
be edited) and enables you to produce indexes. Templates are being
prepared for each of these parts of a dictionary.
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