Friday, January 26, 2007

Sample sentences

One of the functions in OmegaWiki that is currently not popular is the ability to add sample sentences. Sample sentences are a type of annotation on the level of synonyms and translations, they are "text attribute values".

You may appreciate that I look at many resources to learn what functionality might be relevant. What I am starting to appreciate is that there are two relevant approaches to sample sentences. One way to approach them is to have a modern sentence that demonstrates the word well. The other is to have quotes from great authors like Shakespeare. The "bard" may be a great writer, but many of his sentences are hard to appreciate by students that are new to the language. Often there is also some semantic drift that makes it even harder to understand what is meant.

For linguists, sample sentences of the earliest use and the later use of a word are important. There are therefore two constituencies for sample sentences. The question is how to deal with these; having annotations with the quotes make sense for the linguistic inclined ones. There may even be a need for a flag of "modern usage".

One approach that I really admire is the one taken by Logos in their Logosdictionary; they have functionality that shows you the word in a corpus. This way the sentence is never too short as it is sustained by the corpus itself. It would be cool to emulate this with Wikipedia content.

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