Show me your dictionaries? What makes a good dictionary?

Show me your dictionaries? What makes a good dictionary?

I am getting to the point where I don’t want my dictionary and my grammar in the same file anymore, so I’m setting up a separate dictionary file soon. I downloaded Lexique Pro to try it out but honestly, I think I’d rather just do a text file for mine. It just seems easier? I don’t know.

How do you organize and format your dictionary? What sorta info do you include? What do you think characterizes a good dictionary? If any of you want, I’d love to see screenshots from your dictionary files to get some inspiration! Basically, talk lexicons to me.


9 thoughts on “Show me your dictionaries? What makes a good dictionary?

  1. I have one enormous document for the whole language, and one separate dictionary document that just lists things with the conlang word followed by a briefer English translation. Both are LibreOffice. (There are often more usage notes in the big document, as well as kind of “obvious” phrases that don’t need a line of their own, but are important to have defined.) They’re sorted alphabetically by the English transliteration, even though my conlang alphabet is different. Macron vowels go at the end (somewhat haphazardly). At the end of the file, there’s a small similar list of bound affixes.

    So if I want to add a word to the dictionary I can quickly go to see if I’ve used it already, or if it sounds similar to something I already have. I can also do this in reverse–I want a word to sound sort of related to “sand” without making up a complicated sound change history? I’ll control-F to sand and then smush together a weird compound.

    Some of you might recognize the first word here šŸ˜€

  2. This is the very first time I am sharing my Lortho dictionary. It is a spreadsheet set up by different parts of speech where the first sheet shows the statistics of many of the words in the dictionary; including the frequency of each letter in the initial position. Each sheet is set up differently and sorted according to type (if there is enough information). All entries are in IPA since Lortho has its own script and I want to be sure I know how to spell each word correctly without any ambiguity. I also have a dictionary on ConWorkShop, but I do not update it as regularly as my Google spreadsheet. Please let me know what you think!

    1. Awesome! Having separate sheets for each type of word is a good idea. When I move my tarina dictionary to a spreadsheet I’ll use that method. Thanks for sharing! šŸ™‚

  3. Oh, it seems I never commented on this when it was new. Well, I can fix that now.

    For Firen, I have a very simple system: I have a text file (named Dictionary.ymlĀ  (.yml only for syntax highlighting, it is not a valid YAML document)) which is an irregularly-formatted plain text file which is largely just a list of words with translations. It also has selected inflections and other features, but no prose text describing the grammar. It is mostly two lists of words, nouns and verbs, sorted by Firen alphabetical order.

    Verbs are additionally tagged with argument patterns (which look like [A], [P], [2], and [G]) but not for inflection class because that’s predictable from the root form (In Firen the “dictionary form” is not actually any of the forms of that verb, or even the unchanging part common to all of them, though it’s meant to be more like that than anything else. Instead, verbs are listed with or without their final -a depending on whether they ‘usually’ keep it or not.) Additionally, nouns which are derived from verbs through final-vowel variation are listed beneath them. (There’sĀ almost a pattern to these variations.)

    Nouns are simply listed with their definitions, and with their gender inflected. Additionally, I have partially implemented a basic categorization system: tags like #Person or #BodyPartare added on the line with the root. There are certainly better ways of doing this, but this is good enough. Compounded words with idiomatic meanings and words that vary only in gender are listed beneath their main roots.

    For some reason, I never added the verb inflections to my main dictionary file, so for those I have to read the computer-readable descriptions I wrote in my word generator’s data file.

    I took some screenshots of the files and have posted them to Imgur.

    Not the best system, to be honest, but it works for me, for now.


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