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From Writing Dictionaries to Weaving Lexical Networks

Abstract : Dictionaries are designed as huge texts made up of a collection of much smaller texts, i.e. lexicographic articles. To put it differently, dictionaries are two-dimensional textual models of natural language lexicons. Lexicographers, however, are well aware of the fact that their task is to account for a truly multidimensional entity: a gigantic graph of lexical units connected by various paradigmatic and syntagmatic relations. The most significant advance that computer science will bring to the future of lexicography is therefore not the ability to better store, search and manipulate textual lexicographic data; it will be to allow lexicographers to bypass the text as a formal representation of lexicons and to directly work on lexical networks. Such networks are more suitable to the lexicographic endeavour because they are better formal metaphors of the “natural” structure we are trying to account for. This paper presents lexical systems as graph models of lexicons and introduces the corresponding lexicography of virtual dictionaries. It is based on extensive lexicographic work that is being conducted on the French Lexical Network, a lexical database built according to theoretical and methodological principles borrowed from Explanatory Combinatorial Lexicology.
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Alain Polguère. From Writing Dictionaries to Weaving Lexical Networks. International Journal of Lexicography, Oxford University Press (OUP), 2014, 27 (4), pp.396-418. ⟨10.1093/ijl/ecu017⟩. ⟨hal-01097112⟩

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