Using the Web for lexicographic purposes

Authored by: Vincent Ooi

The Routledge Handbook of Lexicography

Print publication date:  October  2017
Online publication date:  October  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138941601
eBook ISBN: 9781315104942
Adobe ISBN:


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When Tim Berners-Lee proposed the World Wide Web in 1989, he envisaged a personal information system which people of “whatever size could easily express themselves, quickly acquire and convey knowledge, overcome misunderstandings, and reduce duplication of effort”, that is, “a web of knowledge linked through hypertext that would contain a snapshot of their shared understanding” (Berners-Lee 1999: 162). Transposing the title of the Berners-Lee volume on the original design and rationale of the Web (as it is now known) to lexicography, this chapter could perhaps be alternatively known as ‘Weaving lexicography in the Web’ or a tad too boldly, ‘The ultimate destiny of lexicography in the age of the World Wide Web’. Much more modestly, though, this chapter aims to explore the changing nature of the ‘dictionary’ to ‘lexicographic tools’ on the Web in terms of “user”, “data” and “access” (Verlinde et al 2009). Given that the Web is an unprecedented and vast source of electronic linguistic data, it would be necessary to ask whether the Web can be treated as a ‘corpus’ for lexicographic purposes. In this chapter, I draw on English primarily (as it is the language that I know best) but common principles exist for their appropriate treatment in various languages.

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