CogALex-08: Cognitive Aspects of the Lexicon: Enhancing the Structure, Indexes and Entry Points of Electronic Dictionaries

In Manchester, UK with COLING 2008

Endorsed by SIGLEX.

Information access and exchange play a major role in our globalized world. Hence, building resources (lexica, thesauri, ontologies or annotated corpora) and providing access to words become an important goal. The lexicon is a vital resource for building applications. It is also a crucial element in the study of human language processing.

While completeness is a virtue, the quality of a dictionary depends not only on coverage (number of entries) and granularity, but also on accessibility of information. Access strategies vary with the task (text understanding vs. text production) and the knowledge available at the moment of consultation (word, concept, sound). Unlike readers, who look for meanings, writers start from them, searching for the ’right’ words. While paper dictionaries are static, permitting only limited strategies for accessing information, their electronic counterparts promise dynamic, proactive search via multiple criteria (meaning, sound, related word) and via diverse access routes. Navigation takes place in a huge conceptual-lexical space, and the results are displayable in a multitude of forms (as trees, as lists, as graphs, or sorted alphabetically, by topic, by frequency).

Many lexicographers work nowadays with huge digital corpora, using language technology to build and to maintain the resource. But access to the potential wealth in dictionaries remains limited for the common user. Yet, the new possibilities of electronic media in terms of comfort, speed and flexibility (multiple inputs, polymorph outputs) are enormous and probably beyond our imagination. More than just allowing electronic versions of paper-bound dictionaries, computers provide a freedom for rethinking dictionaries, thesauri, encyclopedia, etc., a distinction necessary in the past for economical reasons, but not justified anymore.

The goal of this workshop is to perform the groundwork for the next generation of electronic dictionaries, that is, to study the possibility of integrating the different resources, as well as to explore the feasibility of taking the users’ needs, knowledge and access strategies into account.