Friday, December 09, 2005

A difference in approach

Yesterday, I was at a conference for Dutch language lexicologists. It was my first such thing and it was a grand experience. Lexicologists have always been abstract people, now they have faces they exist in many shapes and forms and they largely do many different things. They work together in many ways and to me they do marvellous things.

The difference in our approach and the scientific approach can be given in one word: scientific. What we try to do with Ultimate Wiktionary is not scientific. Being scientific has never been considered. Our outlook has always been practical. We want to do practical things with our dictionary. Publishing a scientific paper is not practical to us. That is not what our goal is.

Given this difference in approach, there is still very much that we can do for each other. By building a resource that is useful but not complete, it may have a limited scientific value but it does have a value. Being build by people who do not necessarily share the same methodology, it may be chaotic but is still has a scientific value. Even for all these "issues" a project that makes lexicons relevant to people who typically do not care is probably the most valuable gift we can give to the science of lexicology. If we can make lexicons relevant and exiting, there will be new people who will find their way in this profession..


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