WordNet Exercise, Level I
Not all lexical resources take the form of dictionaries: some take forms that are structured to make them usable in different ways. One of the largest, most well-known lexical databases is WordNet, a lexical resource in English designed to make extensive lexical information usable for computers, but also useful for humans who are interested in the relationships between lexical units and their meanings.
WordNet is a lexical database of English which groups lexical units (verbs, nouns, adjectives, adverbs) according to their semantic and lexical relations. It can help a user to navigate the lexical database through these relations, and to look up lexical units and their meanings. It is developed by the Cognitive Science Laboratory at Princeton University.
WordNet is freely accessible, either online or in a free downloadable version available on the project Web site. To learn more about WordNet, see the information here: http://wordnet.princeton.edu.
WordNet was developed in English and is most complete and only freely available in this language. However, teams in several countries have begun to develop versions in their respective languages as part of the EuroWordNet project (http://www.illc.uva.nl/EuroWordNet/).
Several entries matching this form — but that correspond to different meanings (different acceptions) of the lexical unit — are displayed. Meanings in WordNet are grouped into what are called synsets: groups of lexical units that all share a very similar meaning (synonyms or near-synonyms).
The letters that appear in blue to the left-hand side of the lexical units describe the kind of relationships described in WordNet. These may be at the level of the synset (S) or of the word (W), that is, not only a meaning (which can correspond to multiple synonyms or near-synonyms), but also a form. The red letters indicate the grammatical categories the units belong to: nouns (n), verbs (v), adjectives (adj), and adverbs (adv).
Clicking on an S link (which corresponds to the command Show Synset (semantic) relations) will display the lexical units that have a semantic relation with the sense you chose. Clicking on a W link (which corresponds to the command Show Word (lexical) relations), will display the lexical units that are related to the unit you chose. To the right-hand side of these units, WordNet also offers a short description of the meanings to help you to distinguish quickly between the acceptions listed.
Or, if you would like to explore a bit, observe the results found by seaching for pip and clicking on the S links for various entries (for example, in the last in the list of verbs, click on the S link and then on the sentence frame link to see how pip is used in this case.)
NOTE 1: You will find the explanations of the terms indicating the nature of the relation (e.g. hyponym, hypernym, holonym, etc.), and of other terms used in WordNet under the Glossary link at the top of the page or at http://wordnet.princeton.edu/
wordnet/man/wngloss.7WN.html. This glossary is part of the WordNet documentation provided on the site.
NOTE 2: When entries are long, as they are here. you can minimize them again once you are done reading by clicking once more on the relation name.
NOTE 3: You may use the Display Options drop-down menu to change the way entries are displayed, by choosing the action you want to take to modify the display – to hide or show information – and clicking the Change button.
NOTE 4: You can learn more about the Oxford English Dictionary, among others, in the Monolingual Electronic Dictionary Exercises.
NOTE 5: You can change how the results are displayed, showing or hiding different types of information, using the Display Options drop-down menu, choosing the option you wish and then clicking the Change button.
- As you did these exercises, what did you notice about how WordNet works?
- What could WordNet help you to do? In what kind of situation?
- What criteria can be used to evaluate lexical databases?
- How does WordNet compare to others in the same class?
- What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of using this tool to look up lexical units and/or navigate through a lexical database with the help of lexical and semantic networks? Compared to a manual approach? Compared to using another tool?
Tutorial developed by Joanne Desroches and Baris Bilgen. (2009-07)