Comparison of Mono- and Bilingual Dictionaries

Maarten Janssen (Utrecht University)

According to common belief, monolingual and bilingual dictionaries
differ greatly, and are in fact incomparable: monolingual dictionaries
contain definitions, whereas bilingual ones contain translational
equivalences. In this talk, I will show that things are not quite so
easy, and specify differences between dictionaries in terms of my
current project on a Multilingual Lexical Database, using an
interlingua based upon a formal framework called 'Formal Concept
Analysis'.  In this MLLD, I try to formalize the content of
dictionaries in a logical framework, by analysing lexical definition
in term of words(senses) and definitional attributes.

The basic idea is this: if we analyse a dictionary definition in terms of genus et differentiae specificae, we can take the differentiae to be attributes that help to define the meaning. We can then look up the genus and get more of such definitional attributes. In this way, we can reduce dictionary definitions (for nominals at least) to set of definional attributes. We can than use the results of this analysis to transform a dictionary into a lattice structure. This lattice structure can contain various languages at the same time (see Proceedings Batumi'99). Within this lattice, we can then observe that: synonyms, often used as definitions in monolingual dictionaries, behave like language-internal translational dictionaries, and lexical gaps have to be filled with definitions in foreign-language oriented bilingual dictionaries. We can also specify the differences between FL and SL oriented bilingual dictionaries in a more formal way.