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DiCoInfo Exercise, Level I

 


Other terminological and lexical resources tutorials

Other DiCoInfo tutorials


 

 

I. Introduction


 

The DiCoInfo, developed by a team led by Marie-Claude L’Homme of the ÉCLECTIK research group at the Université de Montréal’s Observatoire de linguistique Sens-Texte (OLST), is a specialized online dictionary of the Internet and information technology. Developed primarily in French, it describes a relatively restricted set of basic terms in these fields identified in corpora of mainly popularized and didactic texts. However, its nomenclature and the information in its entries are continually expanding.

 

The DiCoInfo was developed in the framework of lexico-semantic terminology (cf. L’Homme’s La terminologie : principes et techniques, 2004), and draws on principles of Explanatory and Combinatorial Lexicology (ECL) (e.g. Mel’cuk, Clas and Polguère, Introduction à la lexicologie explicative et combinatoire, 1995). It also integrates some principles from a methodology developed as part of the FrameNet project (http://framenet.icsi.berkeley.edu/) for annotating contexts (i.e. labeling key elements of meaning in the example sentences provided in the entries).

 

Because of this perspective, the DiCoInfo describes terms using not only some familiar kinds of information (e.g. contexts, sources, synonyms) but also some more unusual types of information (e.g. representations of structures in which terms appear, co-occurrents and collocates, related terms). In addition, the dictionary focuses mainly on single-word units that can be combined as needed to create more specific terms, rather than listing each individual combination of these items as a separate multi-word term, as conventional term banks (e.g. TERMIUM Plus®, the Grand dictionnaire terminologique (GDT)) generally do. Because of this perspective, the DiCoInfo has a higher proportion of entries for single-word terms and specialized adjectives and verbs than you might expect to find in term banks such as TERMIUM Plus® and the GDT (which tend to concentrate mostly on noun phrases).

 

The DiCoInfo was recently expanded to include a number of English terms and link them to the corresponding French and Spanish entries. You can learn more about DiCoInfo by consulting documentation available on its website (http://olst.ling.umontreal.ca/dicoinfo/DiCoInfo manual_Eng.pdf), on the Web page of the OLST (http://olst.ling.umontreal.ca/) and on Marie-Claude L’Homme’s home page (http://www.ling.umontreal.ca/lhomme/).

 

 

II. Getting ready



  1. Open the DiCoInfo:
    1. Open the Web browser Firefox using the shortcut on the desktop. (See Note 1.)
    2. Type http://olst.ling.umontreal.ca/dicoinfo/ in the address bar and press the Enter key to access the DiCoInfo search page. You can also access this page by clicking on the hyperlink.
    3. By default, you are taken to the search page with a French interface. Click on English Version to access the English interface. (See Note 2.) 

 

III. Exploring the DiCoInfo search interface



  1. From the query page, you can:
    1. set the search mode (Mode) to search for items such as terms, lexical relations (i.e. to find entries in which the string you enter appears as a term related to the entry headword), and lexical functions (which represent some common types of relationships between the meanings of terms and other lexical items using a system based on principles of Explanatory and Combinatory Lexicography) by choosing the corresponding option in the drop-down menu.
    2. set the language (Language) to search in to English, French, Spanish, or Trilingual (to search for the string in all three languages) by choosing the corresponding option in the drop-down menu.
    3. set the precision level of the search (Precision) to search for the exact term, for terms starting with the search string, or for terms containing the search string by choosing the corresponding option in the drop-down menu.
    4. type the term you are going to look for in the Search Term field.
      1. If you are not sure what term you want to search for, display an alphabetical list of all the terms listed in DiCoInfo by clicking on the Alphabetical list of terms link at the top-left of the screen.
    5. choose to see the equivalences of the head words (in English, French, or Spanish).
    6. choose to see the argumental roles in the results (see the discussion of the lexical relations below for an explanation of this information).

 

IV. Browsing through term lists



  1. In the search interface, click on the Alphabetical list of terms link. A new window opens up displaying all terms in English, French and Spanish.
  2. Display the list of terms in French in the DiCoInfo.
    1. Click on the French Terms link.
    2. Click on a letter to display the list of terms starting with that letter. Try looking at the letter C.
    3. What kinds of terms do you find in this list? What part-of-speech categories do they belong to? Are they single-word or multi-word terms, or both?
    4. Click on a term to display the corresponding entry and take a quick look. (We will explore the entries in detail in a later section.)
    5. Scroll to the top of the page, and click on the Alphabetical list of terms link to go back to the list of terms.
  3. Display the list of terms in English in the DiCoInfo.
    1. Click on English Terms.
    2. Click on a letter to display the list of terms starting with that letter. Try looking at the letter C in English as well. (See Note 3.)
    3. Click on a term to display the corresponding entry, and compare it to the French entry you examined.
    4. Scroll to the top of the page, and click on the Alphabetical list of terms link to go back to the list of terms.

 

V. Searching for terms



  1. Click on the Query Page link on the left corner of the screen to return to the search interface, or, since the alphabetical list opened in a new window, simply close the current window to return to the search page you had been on before.
  2. Do a search for the term page in English.
    1. Select Term from the mode list. 
    2. Select English as the search language.
    3. Select Exact as the level of precision.
    4. Type page in the Search Term field. 
    5. Click the Search button.
    6. The entries for the term that exactly matches your search, page, will be displayed.
    7. Scroll down to view the entries.
  3. Do a search for all entries containing page in English, French and Spanish.
    1. Scroll back up to the top of the page.
    2. Select Term as the mode.
    3. Select Trilingual as the searching language.
    4. Select Containing as the level of precision, to search for terms containing the searched string.
    5. Type page in the Search Term field.  
    6. Click on the Search button.
    7. Results will display a list of matching entries. Click on a term in the hyperlinked list to jump to the corresponding entry, or scroll down through the entries to see all of the results.
    8. How are the results different from those of the previous search? 
  4. Do another search for all entries containing the word page in English, French and Spanish.
    1. Scroll back up to the top of the page.
    2. Use the same search criteria as in the previous search, except, this time, select Word as the mode.
    3. How do the results compare to those of the previous two searches? What does this tell you about how DiCoInfo uses the terms Word and Term?
  5. Do a search for the term écrire in French.
    1. Scroll back up to the top of the page.
    2. Select Term as the mode.
    3. Select French as the searching language.
    4. Select Exact as the level of precision.
    5. Type écrire in the Search Term field.
    6. Click the Search button.
    7. Two entries for the term that exactly matches your search, écrire1 and écrire2, will be displayed. Each of these represents a different sense of the verb écrire.
    8. Scroll down to view the entries. The next section will help you interpret the content of these two entries.

 

VI. Interpreting the DiCoInfo entries



  1. Look at the information provided in the default view of the entries for écrire:
    1. The term is followed by a number, which is used to differentiate the meanings in case more than one meaning is identified for a form. You’ll see that there are two meanings identified for this verb: écrire1 and écrire2Can you immediately see the difference between these two meanings? If not, exploring the entries should help you to discover how they are different.
    2. The terms are also accompanied by their actantial structure. This describes the term’s actants (other terms that are “linked” by their meanings to the central term), and how they are connected. To view the different categories of actants associated with each definition, click on the Linguistic realizations of actants links. (See Note 4.)
      1. You will see that the meaning of écrire1 involves three other entities, each designated by a set of curly brackets ({}):
        • an agent (the person or thing that writes something),
        • a patient (the thing that is written), and
        • a destination (the thing on which the patient is written).
  1. For écrire2, there are also three actants. The first two are similar to those of écrire1. However, the third (also known as the matériau) is not a destination but rather the means of doing the writing. Does this help you to start to see what the difference between the two meanings may be? Why or why not?
  2. The description also identifies one or more terms that are often used to name these actants: for écrire1, for example, the agent who does the writing may be a lecteur or a processeur, the patient that is written may be données, and the destination to which the data is written may be a support de stockage.
  3. For écrire2, the agent may be a programmeur, the patient a programme, and the means (the matériau) a langageDoes this information help you to see the difference between the two meanings? Why or why not?
  4. The Linguistic realizations of actants lists other possible actants for the two écrire terms. How might this information be useful for you as a translator or writer?
  1. Under the list of actants, a definition of the term is provided. This definition shows how these different actants can be combined to describe the meaning of the term. Is it easier to see how the actants fit into the terms’ meaning in this kind of structure? How does it compare to other definitions you have seen? (See Note 5.)
  2. To view one or more contexts in which the term is used, click the Contexts link.
    1. Do these contexts help you to understand the terms better? If so, how? Can you identify the actants in any of the contexts? Are all of the actants always present at the surface level (i.e. represented by words or other expressions in the sentence)? (See Note 6.)
    2. Click on the Annotated Contexts link for écrire1. A new window opens, displaying a colour-coded version of the contexts, highlighting the different actants. The meaning of each colour is shown in the table at the bottom of the new window. How might this way of visualizing the information help you to understand the searched term better?
    3. Close the window to return to the search results page.
  3. Click the Lexical relations link to view the list of terms identified as being related in various ways to the term écrire. Two new links appear: Actancial roles and Lexical functions. Below these links, you will see a two-column table.
    1. The right-hand column lists the related terms. Terms that are described in the DiCoInfo are hyperlinked to the appropriate entry. As in all DiCoInfo entries, in case more than one entry exists for a form, the meaning of each item is numbered.
    2. What kinds of terms are identified as related to écrire? To what part-of-speech categories do they belong?
    3. The left-hand column describes the relationship between the main term (écrire) and the related terms. This is a fairly specific description of the relationship.
    4. What kinds of relationships are identified? Is it easy to understand the explanations? How might knowing about these relationships be useful for you as a translator or writer?
    5. To see a description of the relationship between these related terms at a more general level (e.g. that could apply to several different pairs of terms), click on the Actancial roles link. A third column appears in the table. (See Note 7.)
      1. How do these descriptions compare to the default explanations in the left-hand column?
      2. When/for what purposes do you think having the two types of explanations might be useful? (If you wish, consult the entries for a few more terms to get a better idea of the kinds of variations you may observe.)
    6. To see an even more generally applicable description of the relationship between these related terms, click on the Lexical functions link. A fourth column appears in the table. (See Note 8.) 
  4. In the bottom right corner of the entry, codes indicate the author(s) who contributed to the entry and the date the entry was created or modified. In addition, the Status code indicates the completeness of the entry. The lower the code, the more complete the entry. For example, the records for écrire are Status 0, which means that they are complete, approved and finalized.
  5. In the bottom right of each entry, you will see the English and Spanish words that have been identified as equivalents of the searched term. In this case, the corresponding English equivalents are write1 and write2. Click on the links to view the English entries.
    1. The English entries are laid out similarly to the French entries for écrire. Click on the links to view the complete entries. (As indicated by their Status (2), they are still in progress and so do not contain quite as much information as the French entries.)
    2. You will see that the equivalents of the two meanings of écrire have the same form. How important do you think it is, then, to have two separate entries for these terms? Why?
    3. Do you see any parallels in the related terms for écrire and write? How might these be useful for a writer or translator?
  1. Do an exact search for the French term signet.
    1. Look at the information provided in the entry. There are a few differences from the entries for écrire.
      1. You will see that, below the Lexical relations link, there is a Synonym(s) line. The word marque-pages is displayed as a synonym for signet.
      2. The Status of this entry is 1 instead of 0 (for écrire) or 2 (for write). In your opinion, what work might remain to be done on this record to make it Status 0? (If you want to find out if you are right, you can consult page 10 of the user’s guide at http://olst.ling.umontreal.ca/dicoinfo/DiCoInfo manual_Eng.pdf.)
    2. Click the Lexical relations link to view the list of terms identified as being related in various ways to the term signet.
      1. What kinds of terms are identified as related to signet? To what part-of-speech categories do they belong?
      2. What kinds of relationships are identified? Is it easy to understand the explanations? How might knowing about these relationships be useful for you as a translator or writer?
      3. For signet, the entry indicates a synonym and a near-synonym (Quasi-synonyme), in different parts of the entry. Why do you think this distinction is made? Why might this information be important for a translator or writer?
    3. The English term bookmark (which corresponds to the first of two entries for this form) has been identified as the equivalent of the term signet. Click on the bookmark1 link to view the English entry.
      1. The entry is laid out similarly to the French entry for signet (although it has a different Status, 2 instead of 1, and so does not contain quite as much information). Click on the links to view the complete entry.
      2. Do you see any parallels in the related terms for signet and bookmark? How might these be useful for a writer or translator? How does having them represented in this way help you to evaluate them (e.g. as compared to how these are represented in conventional term banks or bilingual dictionaries)?
    4. In addition to the entry for bookmark1, we also see a second entry bookmark2.
      1. How is this second entry different from the first? Are these terms related? How? How can you tell? How might knowing about this relationship be useful for you as a writer or translator?

 

VII. Wrapping Up


  1. Close the Web browser window.

 

 

NOTE 1: You can also use Internet Explorer as your browser, but some parts of the DiCoInfo entries will not be available or displayed properly. Using Firefox is best.

 

 

NOTE 2: The information available by clicking on the Help link is still only in French and still pertains to an older version of DiCoInfo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOTE 3: Since the DiCoInfo was originally created in French, it is currently more comprehensive in that language.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOTE 4: These are semantic actants, integral parts of the meaning of the term. That is, it would be impossible to explain the meaning of the term écrire in either of its senses without referring, for example, to an agent who does the writing, or the patient that is written. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOTE 5: Definitions are available for some, but not all, of the entries in the DiCoInfo. They are gradually being added.
 
 
 
NOTE 6: While it would be impossible to explain the meaning of the term écrire without referring to its semantic actants, these actants are not always expressed at the surface level every time the term is used. For example, we can use the term écrire without specifically mentioning who or what is doing the writing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOTE 7: For the moment, the information in the centre column is provided only in French.

 

 

 

NOTE 8: The codes that appear in the third column represent Lexical Functions (LFs), which are used in Explanatory and Combinatorial Lexicology (see Mel’cuk, Clas and Polguère, 1995). LFs reflect a classification of recurrent types of relationships between lexical units. The general idea behind this classification is that similar relationships between various pairs of lexical units can be observed in a wide range of languages, and observing parallels can help us to better study how particular kinds of meaning are expressed and to make links between different instances to assist in expressing these meanings idiomatically. We will not go into Lexical Functions in detail here, other than to note that the choice and classification of relationships between terms represented in the DiCoInfo are based in part on these LFs. 
LFs may not be available for all DiCoInfo entries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VIII. Questions for reflection


 

  • What are your first impressions of the functions and functioning of DiCoInfo? 
  • What could the DiCoInfo help you to do? In what kind of situation(s)?
  • What criteria can be used to evaluate specialized online dictionaries such as the DiCoInfo?
  • How does the DiCoInfo compare to other online dictionaries and term banks you have used? To other specialized dictionaries?
  • What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of using the DiCoInfo to search for information about terms, compared to using other terminology resources?
  • What did you like best about the DiCoInfo?
  • What did you find less useful?
  • Do you have any suggestions for ways to improve the DiCoInfo? If so, what are they, and why will they help to make it more useful?

 

Tutorial updated by Tony Santin and Cheryl McBride. (2012-08-16)