On good dictionaries and bad

I had the pleasure of attending the eLex (“electronic lexicography”) conference in Louvain-la-Neuve in Belgium earlier this month. As someone who works a lot with lexical databases, I was in my element at an event where everybody was talking about electronic dictionaries.

One of the issues that was discussed a lot at the conference was the question, how do people actually use electronic dictionaries? There are, of course, many different kinds of electronic dictionaries including CD-ROM ones, on-line ones, and dictionaries embedded in hand-held devices. And there are quite striking differences in how people use them in different parts of the world. I already knew that hand-held dictionaries are much more popular in Asia than in Europe, but a talk given by Hilary Nesi at the conference added a great deal of detail that I didn’t know yet.

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Where multilingualism doesn’t shine

I know this is going to sound conceited but I fancy myself as a cool multilingual type who nimbly juggles three languages in his everyday life and has no difficulty expressing himself in either. But I must admit that even I seem to have areas in my brain where there’s only room for one language. Most of them have something to do with numbers.

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