Turning Bilingual Lexicography Upside Down: Improving Quality and Productivity with New Methods and Technology

  • Sven Tarp Centre of Excellence in Language Technology, Ordbogen A/S, Denmark; and Centre for Lexicography, Aarhus University

Abstract

This is a report from the real world. It informs about the outcome of a project, which the author conducted during a months-long research stay at the Danish company Ordbogen where he integrated its research and development (R&D) team. The first part of the project was to test machine translation and find out to what extent it is usable in the compilation of bilingual lexico­graphical databases. The hypothesis was that the technology was not yet mature. But surprisingly, it turned out that the accuracy rate is already so high that it is worth considering how to implement it. The second part of the project aimed at further developing an idea formulated by Fuertes-Olivera et al. (2018) on how to invert a dictionary without losing semantic content. The new vision is to compile a mono­lingual L2 database, bilingualize it to an L2–L1 database using machine trans­lation, and then invert the relationship between L2 lemmata and L1 equivalents using the L1 defi­ni­tions of the L2 lemmata as the axis. The third part of the project was to test this idea using a specially designed ad hoc pro­gram. The program automatically uploads relevant data from existing lexico­graphical databases, translates L2 definitions and example sentences into L1, suggests adequate L1 equivalents, and eventually inverts the relationship between the two languages. It worked, but the methodology still needs further refinement to be implementable on a large scale. The report con­cludes by listing some of the remaining challenges and defining the new role of the lexicog­rapher in this type of project. Keywords: lexicographical r&d, interdisciplinary collaboration, digital technology, bilingual lexicography, lexicographical databases, machine translation, automatic inversion, object language, auxiliary language, human versus artificial lexicographer

Author Biography

Sven Tarp, Centre of Excellence in Language Technology, Ordbogen A/S, Denmark; and Centre for Lexicography, Aarhus University
Centre for Lexicographical Studies, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, China; Department of Afrikaans and Dutch, Stellenbosch University, South Africa; International Centre for Lexicography, Valladolid University, Spain; Centre of Excellence in Language Technology, Ordbogen A/S, Denmark; and Centre for Lexicography, Aarhus University
Published
2022-03-29
Section
Projekte/Projects