Online "change of register" database/dictionary
Thread poster: veratek

veratek
Brazil
Local time: 15:07
French to English
+ ...
Mar 9, 2011

Hello,

I am developing an idea for an online "change of register" database for the English language (or any other language).

What I am thinking is somewhat different than a dictionary/thesaurus, because this database would fundamentally focus on the issue of change of register. It would also include short phrases and standard phrases, not only single words. The database and the interface would be organized to serve this purpose: highlighting the register categories and providing similar alternatives in the different registers. Words, short expressions/phrases and standard phrases would be presented according to main register categories.

Interface: you enter a word, keyword or expression and the search result would display 4 columns (extremely informal/slang, informal, formal, extremely formal) on your screen with the corresponding answers, along with synonyms and any other useful information.

Any thoughts on the concept or additions to be made?


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:07
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Good idea Mar 9, 2011

veratek wrote:
I am developing an idea for an online "change of register" database for the English language (or any other language).


Interesting idea. I often wish dictionaries gave more of an idea of register. I do have one that does (Collins Cobuild), but most don't.

Interface: you enter a word, keyword or expression and the search result would display 4 columns (extremely informal/slang, informal, formal, extremely formal) on your screen with the corresponding answers, along with synonyms and any other useful information.


I'm not convinced that anything that structured would work, at least not in English. The most I could see working is some sort of points system, with "0" for slang and "10" for legalese - or something along those lines.

Also, some terms work for spoken communication, even in quite formal situations (interviews etc), whereas they don't really work in written communication. Can't think of any at present but I remember having commented on this during EFL lessons. Perhaps a spoken vs written indicator could/should be included, too?

Big job, though! I don't envy you if you undertake this, although I'll be happy to offer my 10 centimes' worth.


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Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:07
German to English
interesting idea Mar 9, 2011

It is also important to focus on a specific regional version of English (probably UK or US) to avoid making a very complicated project even more complex.

Have you found models by linguists or by terminology experts for this sort of thing? I would be shocked if similar projects haven't been carried out before and taking a look at them could be a big help.

Sincerely,
Michael


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veratek
Brazil
Local time: 15:07
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
good points Mar 9, 2011

Sheila Wilson wrote:

Interface: you enter a word, keyword or expression and the search result would display 4 columns (extremely informal/slang, informal, formal, extremely formal) on your screen with the corresponding answers, along with synonyms and any other useful information.


I'm not convinced that anything that structured would work, at least not in English. The most I could see working is some sort of points system, with "0" for slang and "10" for legalese - or something along those lines.


I think it could have both, the main categories and the point system. I mean, it doesn't have to have 4 columns, it could be just two, or three. But I like the point system idea.

Also, some terms work for spoken communication, even in quite formal situations (interviews etc), whereas they don't really work in written communication. Can't think of any at present but I remember having commented on this during EFL lessons. Perhaps a spoken vs written indicator could/should be included, too?


Yes, that would be very important.
Another indicator could be a period indicator, currently in use, not much used, or something like that.

As for it being a big job, just like many other IT projects, it can start small or as a prototype, and then grow. Many complex IT projects started really simple!


[Edited at 2011-03-09 21:07 GMT]


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veratek
Brazil
Local time: 15:07
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I don't know of any such online tools Mar 9, 2011

Michael Wetzel wrote:

It is also important to focus on a specific regional version of English (probably UK or US) to avoid making a very complicated project even more complex.


Yes, that's also very important.



Have you found models by linguists or by terminology experts for this sort of thing? I would be shocked if similar projects haven't been carried out before and taking a look at them could be a big help.


No, I don't know of any (which doesn't mean they don't exist )


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:07
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Very very very very interesting idea! Mar 10, 2011

Do you plan to make it multilingual?

If you also expect to let other people help, I will be glad to help with English-Spanish, my main pair.

Now, I think an evolution of the system would be a discussion panel about the terms. Surely you get more ideas from several people than just one.


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veratek
Brazil
Local time: 15:07
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
collaboration Mar 10, 2011

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

Do you plan to make it multilingual?

If you also expect to let other people help, I will be glad to help with English-Spanish, my main pair.

Now, I think an evolution of the system would be a discussion panel about the terms. Surely you get more ideas from several people than just one.




Hello Tomas,

I think collaboration is fundamental to the project on two levels. First, on developing the concept itself, such as some people have done above. Also related to the conceptual development, collaboration will be needed on the technical aspect of the project.

Then there is the question of how the "register database" is going to be populated. My idea at the moment is analogous to the wikipedia or wordreference databases.

I mean, a program could scan an online dictionary and automatically place words that have a slang indication into the proper informal category, but then anything that is beyond a such a simple transfer would have to be done by people. (Not ruling out that there's more technology could do though, I just haven't thought of it for the moment).

About being multilingual--now that's complex!

For now, I was thinking of how to develop it for English. I believe it might complicate things too much to start off as multilingual. Given that the basic concept that is developed could be used for many other languages, perhaps that is a good course of action. Develop separate single-language databases and then link them in the future. Or automatically link them by keyword.

On the other hand, we could choose 3 or 5 or 10 main languages and from the beginning try to make the links between the single-language databases, so that it would be not only a register database, but multilanguage one.

Obviously that would be a very wonderful tool, but I wonder how feasible it is.


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