Monday, December 1, 2008

Lexique Pro

I sent an e-mail to Languagehat asking advice on elicitation for a book I was writing. LH passed the e-mail on to Claire Bowern of Yale, who has made many helpful suggestions and in particular called my attention to a program for creating your own lexicon, Lexique Pro.

A quotation from the homepage of the site gives some idea of the appeal of this resource:

You've spent years working on your dictionary, but how easy is it for others to make the most of it? Are the speakers of the language getting any benefit from it? Is it user-friendly enough for a non-linguist to look at? Are translators making the best use of it? Are partner organisations using it? Do university professors have it on their computers? Is it in local schools, government offices and cyber-cafés? Can people download it from your website? Or is it just lying on your hard disk or hidden away gathering dust in the corner of a library somewhere?

Needless to say, in my case the answer to all questions after the first is No, since I have not, as it happens, spent years working on a dictionary (how much more profitably the last 9 years might have been spent if I HAD, but regrets are vain). The site also includes a list of various languages for which dictionaries are available in Lexique Pro; I'm not sure how many of them can be opened at will in cybercafés. This is, obviously, great.

As it happens I've been working through Elisabeth Kendall's The Top 1000 Words for Understanding Media Arabic; I was thinking of compiling a similar work (1000 Most Important Words in Literary and Philosophical Arabic) for DSL, and frankly this is the sort of thing that is likelier to happen if one has the chance to play around at the same time with a new piece of software. (Lexique Pro is not currently available for use on a Mac; this is the one thing that gives me some chance of actually getting some work done before frittering away the hours on philosophical Arabic and Lexique Pro.)


Claire said...

Lexique works all right on a Mac under crossover (this is how I run it at work).

Mary said...

Is Elizabeth Kendall's 1000 Most Important Words in Media Arabic something you can order from amazon? I would be interested in your version if you are able to do it.

Helen DeWitt said...

Claire, well, I fear the worst, but I'll have a bash

Mary, yes, Kendall's book is available on Amazon - I find I absentmindedly misreported the title, but I have now fixed this in the post and also provided a link. I'm finding it a big help.

Anonymous said...

I'm glado you're posting again!

Anonymous said...