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Monday, May 19, 2014


Dr.p.vijaya, CAS in Linguistics, Annamalai University. Chidambaram

This paper is mainly concerned about developing electronic dictionary for Antonyms and Synonyms in Tamil. This e-dictionary makes learning simple and it covers the lexical items used in Tamil. This widespread introduction of new lexical items would be the great help to the students and research scholars useful who work in the Tamil Language and Linguistics.

Lexicography means the collection of lexical items and description of the way they are used. Dictionary is a simple tool which helps us to pronounce in the language. It gives meanings to words which cannot be understood or words that have more than one meaning. Besides meaning, it also provides information on the reader syllables, intonation and pronunciation of words. Dictionaries are considered practical sources of information that learners and teachers can depend on. Dictionaries could take different formats like traditional print dictionaries of varies types, handheld electronic dictionaries, concordance, indexes, terminologies, online dictionaries and CD ROM dictionaries depending on the purpose of their required usage.

Handheld electronic dictionaries, also known as "pocket electronic dictionaries" or PEDs, resemble miniature clamshell laptop computers, complete with full keyboards and LCD screens. Because they are intended to be fully portable, the dictionaries are battery-powered and made with durable casing material. Dictionaries have become very important tools for learning of a language especially the new forms of electronic dictionaries. Several technological developments have led to the invention of electronic dictionaries in the operational processes of teaching and learning process. Language can be studied from the point of view of language structure and language use. Study of language structure is called structural or formal linguistic study. Study of language use is called as functional linguistic study.

Languages are described qualitatively in terms of grammatical units like nouns, verbs, noun phrases, verb phrases, subject, object, agent, goal, etc. to explain the structure of the language. Most of the grammars take a sentence as the minimum unit for the description of the structure. The structure has been studied from different view points and many linguistic theories have emergered to account the syntactic pattern of the sentences. Nowadays more and more students use electronic dictionaries instead of ordinary dictionaries. The discussion about using electronic dictionaries has been popular these years. The most important advantage of an electronic dictionary is that it’s very convenient to use. Whenever you meet new words or expressions, you can know the meaning quickly.

Electronic Dictionary
An electronic dictionary is a dictionary whose data exists in digital form and can be accessed through a number of different media. Electronic dictionary can be used to refer to any reference material stored in electronic form that gives information about the spelling, meaning, or use of words. It is the retrieval system, rather than the information content,

which makes electronic dictionary use such a revolutionary experience compared to the consultation of a hard-copy dictionary.
Online Dictionaries and Electronic Dictionaries
            There are different kinds of websites available for Tamil Dictionaries which can be utilized for learning Tamil language. For example, There are several types of online dictionary including:
·        www.sol.com.sg/classroom/dictionaries/html is a website for accessing the Tamil lexicon.
·        website for an online web based English Tamil dictionary is www.geocities.com/Athens/Acropolis/8780/. The University of Chicago has developed a website to access the Cre-A: Dictionary of Contemporary Tamil (on line version) - www.lib.Uchicago.edu/LibInfo/Subjects/SouthAsia/.
·        Another website for Tamil- English, English-Tamil and Tamil-Tamil Dictionary www.murasu.com/akaram will be useful for learning Tamil language through online.
·        They typically offer monolingual and bilingual dictionaries, one or more thesauruses, and technical or specialized dictionaries. Examples include The FreeDictionary.com and Dictionary.com.
·        'Premium' dictionaries available on subscription, such as the Oxford English Dictionary. Dictionaries from a single publisher, free to the user and supported by advertising. Examples include Collins Online Dictionary, Duden Online, Larousse bilingual dictionaries.  
Some online dictionaries are regularly updated, keeping abreast of language change. Many have additional content, such as blogs and features on new words.
            An electronic dictionary is a dictionary whose data exists in digital form and can be accessed through a number of different media. Electronic dictionaries can be found in several forms, including:
·        as dedicated handheld devices
·        as apps on smart phones and tablet computers or computer software
·        as a function built into an E-reader
·        as CD-ROMs and DVD-ROMs, typically packaged with a printed dictionary, to be    installed on the user’s own computer as free or paid-for online products

Computational Lexicography
             It covers computational methods tools designed  to assist the various lexicographical tasks, that includes preparing lexicographical evidence from many sources,  recording the database form of the relevant linguistic inform data editing of lexicographic entities, and dissemination of lexicographical products. 

The computational lexicography involves the following processes:
  • using computers to assist ID, capture, encoding, dissemination of lexicographic information.
  • Implementing/ leveraging/ integrating lexicographic resources in computational tasks.
  • supplying/ comparing/ evaluating MRDs (Machine Readable Dictionaries).
  • tools for all of above.

Main sources of information for Computational Linguistics work.
MRD  (Machine Readable Dictionaries)     
  1. the interaction  between computational linguistics and lexicographers has in the past been virtually limited to building sample tools for producing indexes and concordance  of large corpora.
  2. lexicographers should use the techniques developed by computational linguistics for browsing machine readable dictionary  in order to reuse their data.
  3. in future electronic publishing benefit end user by improving access to the wealth of information currently available in dictionaries but not easily retrievable via alphabetical order   alone.

The processing of text corpora  
Ø  one of the reason is that computational linguistics which covers both linguistics and computers, developing very fast so that what held true today may be superseded tomorrow.
Ø  Another obvious reason is that computational linguistics is so vast a domain that so single individual can not be expected to cover the whole of it, nor can the combined experience of this better.
What do we mean by lexicographical information?
A text could be defined as a set of one or more (written or spoken) words forming a consistent whole from a semantic, syntactic, and pragmatic point of view.
Lexicographer makes use of ‘Primary’ texts and of ‘secondary’ texts.
Texts---à        Processing ---à         Lexicographical information
            By ‘lexicographic information’ we mean the kind of information one can expect to find in a dictionary.

            Synonyms are words that have the same or very similar meaning. The absolute identity or similarity in the meaning of several lexemes is called synonymy. The different lexemes that are related to one meaning are called synonyms. The meaning of these words need not be exactly the same. Most words can have one or more synonyms.

The synonyms can be subgrouped into personal nouns and abstract nouns. al:va:r, irai, iraivan, puranta:r, mannavan, ve:ntan, ve:ntar and ve:ntu are the synonyms of the personal noun, aracan ‘king’. Similarly Ilukkam, Ilukku, ili, e:tam, ta:, ti:tu, pali, ma:cu and vatu are the synonyms of the abstract noun kurram ‘offence’ .

            Antonyms are words which have almost opposite meanings. Most words can have one or more antonyms. The opposite of meaning within two-member sets of lexemes is called antonym and the sets of two words which refer to the opposite extreme from identity of meaning, are called binary contrasts or antonyms. There are several binary contrasts in Tamil Language. As in the case of synonyms, the antonyms can also be sub-grouped into personal nouns, abstract nouns, adjectives and verbs. periyar/ciriyar, va:ymai/poymai, eliya/ariya and a:rum/a:ra:te: are the binary contrasts of personal noun, abstract noun, adjective and verb respectively.

Aim and Objectives
            The main aim of this research paper is to study the various synonyms and antonyms used in Tamil Language with their respective references and finally create an inventory of synonyms and antonyms found in Tamil Language.
        For the proposed work, about 500 antonyms and synonyms in Tamil have been collected from tirukkural books and school text books. 
        To develop an e-dictionary for antonyms and synonyms in Tamil.
        To provide an asset to Tamil language and also its community like students, researchers, teachers, and so on.
        To make the students enrich their vocabulary power through a technology-incorporated dictionary i.e. a virtual software (programme) written in a programming language (i.e. JAVA).
        To investigate the design, construction and use of electronic dictionaries in natural language processing the notion of re-usability of lexical resources is taken as a focus, enabling considerations of existing lexical resources, including publishers (MRDs) and lexical database, as well as the constructions of new resources.

Scope of this study:
  • The dictionary of Tamil is a completely new one of its kind for students of linguistics.
  • This dictionary covers the terms used in General and Applied Linguistics.
  • This widespread introduction of new terms would be the great help to the students and Research scholars of in Tamil/ Linguistics.

            The process of the research article has four different phases’ viz. data collection, the structure of a data entry, analysis, verification and evaluation.

a. Data collection
The lexical items related to the same meaning (synonyms) and opposite meaning (antonyms) have been  collected along with the references of their respective and different sources like Tamil text books, Journals, English Glossaries, Language corpus and website.

b. The structure of a Data Entry
  The collected data have been digitalized and alphabetized in Tamil.
  Tamil entry:   The “head word”
  In Tamil script

In Synonyms
            murd; (1)
      Nte;jd; (382>549>899)
      Nte;J (551)
      Gue;jhh; (780)
      ,iw (547>563)
      ,iwtd; (690)
      kd;dtd; (553)
      Nte;jh; (481)
Ms;thh; (447)


      nry;tk; (125>247>755)
      Mf;fk; (112>562)
      cilik (89>558)
      cud; (1263)
      gw;W (606)
      NgW (61)
      nghUs; (1009)
      khL (168)
      jpU (179>215>482>616>408>374

In Antonyms
,ir (238)
tir (238>239>230)
my;yplk; (301)
Ngh$o; (371)

c. Analysis
The data collected have been linguistically analysed and categorically identified as personal nouns, abstract nouns, adjectives, verbs and so on. Finally, all the lexical items collected and analysed in different lists category-wise.

d. Verification
            The verification phase is very important one as it enables the product of the research to attain perfection and accuracy without any error. So the whole developing e-dictionary for antonyms and synonyms work have been meticulously verified and neatly in relevant categories.

e. Evaluation
The final stage of the process of the research is a scrupulous evaluation of the work, which would be undertaken after the accomplishment of full-fledged work. The evaluation would be in the point of view as to what extent the product of the project will cater to needs of the educated Tamil public in general, and the students and research scholars in particular.

f. Computation of data

Finally, all the information has been instructed to the computer by using the JAVA programming languages for compilation of the e-dictionary for Antonyms and Synonyms in Tamil.

The advantages of using electronic dictionaries

Let's have a look at its advantages.
 Electronic Dictionaries are user-friendly, very fast and easier to carry.
  • Students relate better to it and are more enthusiastic and sounds can be heard.
  • They are better for class based activities, while paper dictionaries would be better for homework based tasks
  • What's more, electronic dictionaries are becoming more and more advanced: they can pronounce the words clearly, provide sample sentences to illustrate word usage and store difficult words for special memorization.
  • You don’t need to waste much time turning the page seeking for the new words.
  • That’s special function may help you remember some new words with high efficiency.
  • Last but not least, the designing of electronic dictionaries are more and more portable, and they are easy for students carrying.
  • When learners use an electronic dictionary their word search becomes faster.
  • This allows learners to spend more time on reading comprehension or on searching word meanings.
  • A comparison between electronic and paper dictionary revealed that a lot of differences exist between them in some features.
  • The vocabulary items covered in the electronic dictionary exceeds the limited number in the paper one.
  • Some features do not exist in the paper dictionary such as databank, reference book, voice recorder, calculator, MP3. In addition, it does not include speech features, updates and interactive learning functions like irregular verbs, idioms, dialogues, sentence structure, accent correction, and grammar explanations.
  • Obviously, the electronic dictionary is faster, lighter and more mobile than the paper based dictionaries.

Developing Tools (Screen Shot):

Finally the research article has been brought out in the shape of e-dictionary for Antonyms and Synonyms in Tamil. The electronic dictionaries are one of the ways of Tamil computing, because lexical items in Tamil and their various functions and role of their thematic expressions are computed by using various programming Languages for example learners for whom Tamil as a second language.

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3.    De Schryver, Gilles-Maurice, ‘Lexicographers’ dreams in the electronic dictionary age’, in International Journal of Lexicography, 16(2), 2003:143-199
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