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James Lougheed

James Lougheed
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Dixio: The dictionary that knows

Published by jloug099@uottawa.ca on 2012-02-02

No doubt about it, dictionaries are a translator’s best friend! When in trouble, we can always depend on them to help us find a solution. Each type of dictionary has its own look and layout, and contains its own set of tricks. And after a while, all translators seem to establish their favourite dictionary (or team of dictionaries) that will accompany them through the most difficult of tasks. What great companions they are!

 

To continue with my last entry on semantic technology, I decided to try a demo version of Dixio the Smart Dictionary software, available through Semantix. This dictionary is claimed to use this type of technology to search for entries in a more effective and relevant way. By using “language detection, morpho-syntactical analysis and the analysis of context, the word you are looking up is examined and prepared for subsequent treatment.1” On YouTube, some demo videos of the software display its unique features, such as integrating into different file types and programs and detecting complex forms (tenses, derivatives, phrasal verbs, etc.).

 

With over 90 dictionaries and glossaries integrated into it, Dixio is packed with useful resources that contain a large number of entries for almost any term. Intrigued by this seemingly unique dictionary, I tried testing Dixio with a variety of terms to see what it could handle. Here are the results:

 

Sample 1:

I am amazed at our progress in creating systems that not only come closer to imitating the functions of the human brain, but that also go beyond its abilities.

Source:  WordNet

come close 

v.

1 nearly do something; She came close to quitting her job

2 (approximate) be close or similar; Her results approximate my own

© 2005 Princeton University

Sample source: Semantic Technology: It isn’t just about words on a page anymore

 

Sample 2:

It goes without saying that recent technological wonders have…

Source:  Concise Oxford English Dictionary

go without saying be obvious. 

See: say

© ISBN 9780199548415 Oxford University Press 2008


Source:  Diccionario Inglés-Español de Semantix

go without saying

loc.

ser obvio, no necesitar explicación;

Ver: say v.

Ver: go v.

© 2010 Semantix

Sample source: Semantic Technology: It isn’t just about words on a page anymore

 

Sample 3:

As my first order of business, I hope to…

Source:  WordNet

order of business 

n.

(agenda, agendum) a list of matters to be taken up (as at a meeting)

© 2005 Princeton University


Source:  Diccionario Inglés-Español de Semantix

order of business

comp.

agenda, orden del día, relación de temas a tratar;

Ver: order n.

Ver: business n.

Sample source: Semantic Technology: It isn’t just about words on a page anymore

 

Sample 4:

Each of these is produced artificially in a nuclear reactor, from the fertile…

Source:  Concise Oxford English Dictionary

reactor

 n.

1 (also nuclear reactor) an apparatus or structure in which fissile material can be made to undergo a controlled, self-sustaining nuclear reaction with the consequent release of energy.

2 a container or apparatus in which substances are made to react chemically.

3 Medicine a person who reacts to a drug, antigen, etc.

4 Physics a coil or other component which provides reactance in a circuit.

© ISBN 9780199548415 Oxford University Press 2008

Sample source: Physics of Uranium and Nuclear Energy

 

Sample 5:

Morgan Stanley, owner of the world’s largest brokerage, will also cap…

Source:  English Wikipedia

Morgan Stanley

Morgan Stanley is a global financial services firm headquartered in New York City serving a diversified group of corporations, governments, financial institutions, and individuals. Morgan Stanley operates in 42 countries, and has more than 1300 offices and 60,000 employees. The company reports US$779 billion as assets under its management. It is headquartered in the Morgan Stanley Building, in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. 


The corporation, formed by J.P. Morgan & Co. partners Henry S. Morgan (grandson of J.P. Morgan), Harold Stanley and others, came into existence on September 16, 1935, in response to the Glass-Steagall Act that required the splitting of commercial and investment banking businesses. In its first year the company operated with a 24% market share (US$1.1 billion) in public offerings and private placements. The main areas of business for the firm today are Global Wealth Management, Institutional Securities, and Investment Management.

Sample source: Morgan Stanley, Citigroup Lead Retreat on Investment Bankers’ Compensation

 

Sample 6:

…that has the potential to fill the gaps that machine translation leaves behind.

Source:  WordNet

leave behind 

v.

1 depart and not take along; He left behind all his possessions when he moved to Europe

2 (leave) be survived by after one's death; He left six children; At her death, she left behind her husband and 11 cats

3 (leave, leave alone) leave unchanged or undisturbed or refrain from taking; leave it as is;leave the young fawn alone; leave the flowers that you see in the park behind

© 2005 Princeton University


Source:  Diccionario Inglés-Español de Semantix

leave behind

phr. v.

1 (objeto) dejar, abandonar, no llevarse consigo;

2 (muerte) dejar, dejar como familiares directos supervivientes;

3 (lugar, planta, animal) dejar, dejar en paz (fig), dejar tranquilo, no molestar, dejar tal cual;

Ver: leave v.

© 2010 Semantix

Sample source: Semantic Technology: It isn’t just about words on a page anymore

 

In the many cases shown above, Dixio does more than the average electronic dictionary. Dixio takes a word or series of words and actually analyzes the morpho-syntactic structure to give a more contextual and precise definition. It was able to recognize proper nouns, compound nouns, idioms verb phrases and phrasal verbs, and even their derivations. Any translator or language learner knows that this is incredibly useful!

 

That is not without saying, though, that there weren’t any troubles with the software. Some compound nouns and more informal phrasal verbs (for example, “getting closer”) were not picked up by the program. In addition, Dixio shows some issues with Firefox as it sometimes misread text in the browser. And I was slightly disappointed by the fact that Wikipedia was a common resource for the dictionary, especially for compound and proper nouns.

 

For the most part, however, I was very impressed with Dixio the Smart Dictionary. Its ability to look past the text on the page and provide fast and comprehensive entries proved to be very useful. With some additions, such as more relevant and credible content and resources, Dixio would be an asset to any researcher, language-learner, translator or language professional.

 

Of course, one downfall of the software is that it is only available in English, Spanish and Catalan at the moment. And it does not, as it stands, have a translation function. Using this type of technology (semantic technology), however, I can easily see how translating could be that much quicker. Not only would you have access to more entries quicker, but you would also have definitions and translations in context! To me, that sounds like a translator’s dream.

 

Although I have started to see how semantic technology can be used through my test of Dixio, I feel that there is still more to be discovered about this context-based search tool. I will continue to dive into this topic and see what more there is to explore…



1 Our Technology, Semantix. <http://www.semantix.com/en/tecnologia.html>. 1 February 2012.