Electronic dictionary

Last updated
A typical handheld electronic dictionary, showing Instant-Dict (Kuai Yi Tong ) MD6800. 2008 Taipei IT Month Day1 InstantDict MD6800.jpg
A typical handheld electronic dictionary, showing Instant-Dict (快譯通) MD6800.

An electronic dictionary is a dictionary whose data exists in digital form and can be accessed through a number of different media. [1] Electronic dictionaries can be found in several forms, including software installed on tablet or desktop computers, mobile apps, web applications, and as a built-in function of E-readers. They may be free or require payment.

Contents

Casio electronic dictionary Casio EX-word XD-Z6500 in 201901 005.jpg
Casio electronic dictionary

Information

Most of the early electronic dictionaries were, in effect, print dictionaries made available in digital form: the content was identical, but the electronic editions provided users with more powerful search functions. But soon the opportunities offered by digital media began to be exploited. Two obvious advantages are that limitations of space (and the need to optimize its use) become less pressing, so additional content can be provided; and the possibility arises of including multimedia content, such as audio pronunciations and video clips. [2] [3]

Electronic dictionary databases, especially those included with software dictionaries are often extensive and can contain up to 500,000 headwords and definitions, verb conjugation tables, and a grammar reference section. Bilingual electronic dictionaries and monolingual dictionaries of inflected languages often include an interactive verb conjugator, and are capable of word stemming and lemmatization.

Publishers and developers of electronic dictionaries may offer native content from their own lexicographers, licensed data from print publications, or both, as in the case of Babylon offering premium content from Merriam Webster, and Ultralingua offering additional premium content from Collins, Masson, and Simon & Schuster, and Paragon Software offering original content from Duden, Britannica, Harrap, Merriam-Webster and Oxford.

Writing systems

As well as Latin script, electronic dictionaries are also available in logographic and right-to-left scripts, including Arabic, Persian, Chinese, Devanagari, Greek, Hebrew, Japanese, Korean, Cyrillic, and Thai.

Dictionary software

Dictionary software generally far exceeds the scope of the hand held dictionaries. Many publishers of traditional printed dictionaries such as Langenscheidt, Collins-Reverso, OED – Oxford English Dictionary, Duden, American Heritage, and Hachette, offer their resources for use on desktop and laptop computers. These programs can either be downloaded or purchased on CD-ROM and installed. Other dictionary software is available from specialised electronic dictionary publishers such as iFinger, Abbyy Lingvo, Collins-Ultralingua, Mobile Systems and Paragon Software. Some electronic dictionaries provide an online discussion forum moderated by the software developers and lexicographers [4]

In East Asia

An electronic dictionary (only showing its Qwerty keyboard), model 9200 mini from Besta (Wu Di ) in Taiwan. HK Besta 9200 Mini E-Dictionary 9.JPG
An electronic dictionary (only showing its Qwerty keyboard), model 9200 mini from Besta (無敵) in Taiwan.

The well-known brands, such as Instant-Dict (快譯通), Besta (無敵), and Golden Global View (文曲星), includes basic functions like dictionaries, TTS, calculator, calendar etc. They also have functions other than just dictionary, for example, MP3 player, Video player, web browser (WiFi), and simple games. Some also support Adobe Flash (SWF files). Most of them usually will have a touch screen, Qwerty keyboard, a speaker, SD card slot, and sometimes microphone and camera also, for example, MD8500 from Instant-Dict. Their functions can even be comparable to smartphones, with the exception of phone capabilities since they do not have radios to make or receive phone calls.

Main functions

Handheld dictionaries or PEDs

Handheld electronic dictionaries, also known as "pocket electronic dictionaries" or PEDs, resemble miniature clamshell laptop computers, complete with full keyboards and LCD screens. Because they are intended to be fully portable, the dictionaries are battery-powered and made with durable casing material. Although produced all over the world, handheld dictionaries are especially popular in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, China, and neighbouring countries, where they are the dictionary of choice for many users learning English as a second language. [5] Some of the features of hand held dictionaries include stroke order animations, voice output, handwriting recognition for Kanji and Kana, language-learning programs, a calculator, PDA-like organizer functions, encyclopedias, time zone and currency converters, and crossword puzzle solvers. Dictionaries that contain data for several languages may have a "jump" or "skip-search" feature that allows users to move between the dictionaries when looking up words, and a reverse translation action that allows further look-ups of words displayed in the results. Many manufacturers produce hand held dictionaries that use licensed dictionary content [6] that use a database such as the Merriam Webster Dictionary and Thesaurus while others may use a proprietary database from their own lexicographers. [7] Many devices can be expanded for several languages with the purchase of additional memory cards. Manufacturers include AlfaLink, Atree, Besta, Casio, Canon, Instant Dict, Ectaco, Franklin, Iriver, Lingo, Maliang Cyber Technology, Compagnia Lingua Ltd., Nurian, Seiko, and Sharp.

In Japan

The market size as of 2014 was about 24.2 billion yen (= $227.1 million as of May/2016), although the market has been shrinking gradually from 2007 [8] because of smartphones and tablet computers. The targeted customer base has been being shifted from business users to students. [9] [10] Sony and Seiko have withdrawn from the market. [11] [12] As of 2016, Casio had 59.3% of the market share, followed by Sharp with 21.5% and Canon with 19.2%. [13]

At 2016, Seiko announced that their mobile device apps on iPad iOS has been launched. [14]

Dictionaries on mobile devices

Dictionaries of all types are available as apps for smartphones and for tablet computers such as Apple's iPad, the BlackBerry PlayBook and the Motorola Xoom. The needs of translators and language learners are especially well catered for, with apps for bilingual dictionaries for numerous language pairs, and for most of the well-known monolingual learner's dictionaries such as the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English and the Macmillan English Dictionary .

Online dictionaries

There are several types of online dictionary, [15] including:

Some online dictionaries are regularly updated, keeping abreast of language change. Many have additional content, such as blogs and features on new words. Some are collaborative projects, most notably Wiktionary and the Collins Online Dictionary. And some, like the Urban Dictionary, consist of entries (sometimes self-contradictory) supplied by users. Many dictionaries for special purposes, especially for professional and trade terminology, and regional dialects and language variations, are published on the websites of organizations and individual authors. Although they may often be presented in list form without a search function, because of the way in which the information is stored and transmitted, they are nevertheless electronic dictionaries.

Evaluation

There are differences in quality of hardware (hand held devices), software (presentation and performance), and dictionary content. Some hand helds are more robustly constructed than others, and the keyboards or touch screen input systems should be physically compared before purchase. The information on the GUI of computer based dictionary software ranges from complex and cluttered, to clear and easy-to-use with user definable preferences including font size and colour.

A major consideration is the quality of the lexical database. Dictionaries intended for collegiate and professional use generally include most or all of the lexical information to be expected in a quality printed dictionary. The content of electronic dictionaries developed in association with leading publishers of printed dictionaries is more reliable that those aimed at the traveler or casual user, while bilingual dictionaries that have not been authored by teams of native speaker lexicographers for each language, will not be suitable for academic work. Some developers opt to have their products evaluated by an independent academic body such as the CALICO.

Another major consideration is that the devices themselves and the dictionaries in them are generally designed for a particular market. As an example, almost all handheld Japanese-English electronic dictionaries are designed for people with native fluency in Japanese who are learning and using English; thus, Japanese words do not generally include furigana pronunciation glosses, since it is assumed that the reader is literate in Japanese (headwords of entries do have pronunciation, however). Further, the primary manner to look up words is by pronunciation, which makes looking up a word with unknown pronunciation difficult (for example, one would need to know that 網羅 "comprehensive" is pronounced もうら, moura to look it up directly). However, higher end Japanese dictionaries include character recognition, so users (native speakers of Japanese or not) can look up words by writing the kanji.

Similar limitations exist in most two or multi-language dictionaries and can be especially crippling when the languages are not written in the same script or alphabet; it's important to find a dictionary optimized for the user's native language.

Integrated technology

Several developers of the systems that drive electronic dictionary software offer API and SDK – Software Development Kit tools for adding various language-based (dictionary, translation, definitions, synonyms, and spell checking and grammar correction) functions to programs, and web services such as the AJAX API used by Google. These applications manipulate language in various ways, providing dictionary/translation features, and sophisticated solutions for semantic search. They are often available as a C++ API, an XML-RPC server, a .NET API, or as a Python API for many operating systems (Mac, Windows, Linux, etc.) and development environments, and can also be used for indexing other kinds of data. [18] [19]

See also

Notes

  1. Nesi, H., 'Dictionaries in electronic form', in Cowie, A.P. (Ed.), The Oxford History of English Lexicography, Oxford University Press 2009: 458-478
  2. De Schryver, Gilles-Maurice, ‘Lexicographers’ dreams in the electronic dictionary age’, in International Journal of Lexicography, 16(2), 2003:143-199
  3. Atkins, S. & Rundell, M. The Oxford Guide to Practical Lexicography, Oxford University Press 2008: 238-246
  4. "Forums - Ultralingua". ultralingua.com. 13 March 2013.
  5. Chen, Yuzhen, 'Dictionary use and EFL learning: a contrastive study of pocket electronic dictionaries and paper dictionaries', in International Journal of Lexicography23 (3), 2010:275-306
  6. Franklin MWS-1840
  7. "Ultralingua Inc". ultralingua.com. 18 May 2013.
  8. "Changes of each year's electronic dictionary shipment" (PDF). Japan Business Machine and Information System Industries Association. 25 Feb 2015.
  9. "ネットで何でも検索できる時代 電子辞書は生き残れるのか(At era of internet search, how electronic dictionary survives)". 18 Oct 2014.
  10. "電子辞書、気が付けばカシオの独壇場(Electronic dictionary, suddenly noticed that Casio is leading the market)".
  11. "ソニー、電子辞書から撤退 (Sony withdraw from electronic dictionary)" (in Japanese). 7 Jul 2006.
  12. "Notice of Withdrawal from Electronic Dictionary Business". 7 Oct 2014.
  13. "BCN AWARD for Handheld electronic dictionaries".
  14. "大学生向け・高校生向けの電子辞書アプリとコンテンツのダウンロード販売を開始(: iOS dictionary apps for university and high school student has been launched and extra contents are available)". Seiko solutions inc. 5 Apr 2016. Retrieved 11 Jun 2016.
  15. Lew, Robert. ‘Online Dictionaries of English’ in Fuertes-Olivera, Pedro A. and Henning Bergenholtz (eds.), E-Lexicography: The Internet, Digital Initiatives and Lexicography. London/New York: Continuum, 2011: 230-250.
  16. Tiberius, C. and Niestadt, J. 'The ANW: an online Dutch dictionary', in Dykstra, A. and Schoonheim, T. (eds), Proceedings of the XIV Euralex Congress, Leewarden, 2010: 747-753
  17. Trap-Jensen, L., 'Access to Multiple Lexical Resources at a Stroke: Integrating Dictionary, Corpus and Wordnet Data', In Sylviane Granger, Magali Paquot (eds.), eLexicography in the 21st Century: New Challenges, New Applications Louvain-la-Neuve: Presses universitaires de Louvain, 2010:295-302
  18. Semantica S.A.
  19. Ultralingua Inc.

Commons-logo.svg Media related to Electronic dictionaries at Wikimedia Commons

Related Research Articles

Dictionary Collection of words and their meanings

A dictionary is a listing of lexemes from the lexicon of one or more specific languages, often arranged alphabetically, which may include information on definitions, usage, etymologies, pronunciations, translation, etc.. It is a lexicographical reference that shows inter-relationships among the data.

Lexicography is divided into two separate but equally important groups:

Wiktionary Free online dictionary that anyone can edit

Wiktionary is a multilingual, web-based project to create a free content dictionary of terms in all natural languages and in a number of artificial languages. These entries may contain definitions, images for illustrations, pronunciations, etymologies, inflections, usage examples, quotations, related terms, and translations of words into other languages, among other features. It is collaboratively edited via a wiki. Its name is a portmanteau of the words wiki and dictionary. It is available in 171 languages and in Simple English. Like its sister project Wikipedia, Wiktionary is run by the Wikimedia Foundation, and is written collaboratively by volunteers, dubbed "Wiktionarians". Its wiki software, MediaWiki, allows almost anyone with access to the website to create and edit entries.

A monolingual learner's dictionary (MLD) is designed to meet the reference needs of people learning a foreign language. MLDs are based on the premise that language-learners should progress from a bilingual dictionary to a monolingual one as they become more proficient in their target language, but that general-purpose dictionaries are inappropriate for their needs. Dictionaries for learners include information on grammar, usage, common errors, collocation, and pragmatics, which is largely missing from standard dictionaries, because native speakers tend to know these aspects of language intuitively. And while the definitions in standard dictionaries are often written in difficult language, those in an MLD use a simple and accessible defining vocabulary.

Graphing calculator

A graphing calculator is a handheld computer that is capable of plotting graphs, solving simultaneous equations, and performing other tasks with variables. Most popular graphing calculators are also programmable and therefore considered to be programmable calculators, allowing the user to create customized programs, typically for scientific, engineering and education applications. Because they have large displays in comparison to standard four-operation handheld calculators, graphing calculators also typically display several lines of text and calculations at the same time.

Sandro Nielsen is a Danish metalexicographer, Associate Professor at Centre for Lexicography at the Aarhus School of Business, Denmark, from where he received his PhD in 1992. Nielsen has contributed to lexicography as a theoretical and practical lexicographer with particular reference to bilingual specialised dictionaries. He is the author and co-author of more than one hundred publications on lexicography, theoretical papers, printed and electronic (online) dictionaries.

Legal lexicography is the complex of activities concerned with the development of theories and principles for the design, compilation, use, and evaluation of dictionaries within the field of law, see e.g. Nielsen 1994.

A specialized dictionary is a dictionary that covers a relatively restricted set of phenomena. The definitive book on the subject includes chapters on some of the dictionaries included below:

Law dictionary

A law dictionary is a dictionary that is designed and compiled to give information about terms used in the field of law.

Lexicographic information cost is a concept within the field of lexicography. The term refers to the difficulties and inconveniences that the user of a dictionary believes or feels are associated with consulting a particular dictionary or dictionary article. For example, the extensive use of abbreviations in articles in order to save space may annoy the user, because it is often difficult to read such condensed texts and understand the abbreviations, thereby increasing the lexicographic information costs.

Specialized lexicography is an academic discipline that is concerned with development of theories and principles for the design, compilation, use and evaluation of specialized dictionaries. A specialized dictionary is a dictionary that covers a relatively restricted set of phenomena, usually within one or more subject fields. An alternative term for this type of dictionary is LSP dictionary.

Japanese dictionaries have a history that began over 1300 years ago when Japanese Buddhist priests, who wanted to understand Chinese sutras, adapted Chinese character dictionaries. Present-day Japanese lexicographers are exploring computerized editing and electronic dictionaries. According to Nakao Keisuke (中尾啓介):

It has often been said that dictionary publishing in Japan is active and prosperous, that Japanese people are well provided for with reference tools, and that lexicography here, in practice as well as in research, has produced a number of valuable reference books together with voluminous academic studies. (1998:35)

Bilingual dictionary Specialized dictionary used to translate words or phrases from one language to another

A bilingual dictionary or translation dictionary is a specialized dictionary used to translate words or phrases from one language to another. Bilingual dictionaries can be unidirectional, meaning that they list the meanings of words of one language in another, or can be bidirectional, allowing translation to and from both languages. Bidirectional bilingual dictionaries usually consist of two sections, each listing words and phrases of one language alphabetically along with their translation. In addition to the translation, a bilingual dictionary usually indicates the part of speech, gender, verb type, declension model and other grammatical clues to help a non-native speaker use the word. Other features sometimes present in bilingual dictionaries are lists of phrases, usage and style guides, verb tables, maps and grammar references. In contrast to the bilingual dictionary, a monolingual dictionary defines words and phrases instead of translating them.

Lexico Dictionary website

Lexico is a website that provides a collection of dictionaries of English and Spanish produced by Oxford University Press (OUP), the publishing house of the University of Oxford, which also publishes a number of print dictionaries, among other works. While the dictionaries on Lexico are made solely by OUP, the website is owned by Dictionary.com, whose eponymous website hosts dictionaries by other publishers such as Random House.

TI-Nspire series Series of graphing calculators

The TI-Nspire is a graphing calculator made by Texas Instruments which was released in July 2007. The original TI-Nspire was developed out of the TI PLT SHH1 prototype calculator, the TI-92 series of calculators released in 1995, and the TI-89 series of calculators released in 1998. The TI-Nspire features a non-QWERTY keyboard and a different key-by-key layout compared to its predecessors. The TI-Nspire allows users to swap out the existing removable keypad with a functional copy of the TI-84 Plus series keypad. The TI-Nspire series I/O has a connector for the TI-Nspire Lab Cradle, another that serves as a connector for TI's wireless network adapter, and a Mini-USB connector for transferring data. The TI-Nspire series is available with and without a computer algebra system.

Beryl T. (Sue) Atkins is a British lexicographer, specialising in computational lexicography, who pioneered the creation of bilingual dictionaries from corpus data.

Reinhard Rudolf Karl Hartmann is an Austrian and English lexicographer and applied linguist. Until the 1970s, lexicographers worked in relative isolation, and Hartmann is credited with making a major contribution to lexicography and fostering interdisciplinary consultation between reference specialists.

Ultralingua is a single-click and drag-and-drop multilingual translation dictionary, thesaurus, and language reference utility. The full suite of Ultralingua language tools is available free online without the need for download and installation. As well as its online products, the developer offers premium downloadable language software with extended features and content for Macintosh and Windows computer platforms, smartphones, and other hand held devices.

Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners, also known as MEDAL, was first published in 2002 by Macmillan Education. MEDAL is an advanced learner’s dictionary and shares most of the features of this type of dictionary: it provides definitions in simple language, using a controlled defining vocabulary; most words have example sentences to illustrate how they are typically used; and information is given about how words combine grammatically or in collocations. MEDAL also introduced a number of innovations. These include:

Sketch Engine

Sketch Engine is a corpus manager and text analysis software developed by Lexical Computing Limited since 2003. Its purpose is to enable people studying language behaviour to search large text collections according to complex and linguistically motivated queries. Sketch Engine gained its name after one of the key features, word sketches: one-page, automatic, corpus-derived summaries of a word's grammatical and collocational behaviour. Currently, it supports and provides corpora in 90+ languages.