LINGUIST List 11.1483

Fri Jul 7 2000

Sum: Dictionary Writing Software

Editor for this issue: Lydia Grebenyova <>


  1. Thapelo Otlogetswe, Dictionary Writing Software

Message 1: Dictionary Writing Software

Date: Thu, 6 Jul 2000 15:35:53 -0700 (PDT)
From: Thapelo Otlogetswe <>
Subject: Dictionary Writing Software

For Query: Linguist 11.1478

This is a summary of the responses I got from various
people on Dictionary writing software so far. I would
like to thank everyone who responded. Your assistance
is highly appreciated. If anyone still has other
information not recorded below please contact me and I
will pass the information to others.
Thanks a lot everyone and God bless.

Thapelo Otlogetswe

I used Shoebox for organizing lexical data in
indigenous languages and think it's quite useful. 
In preparing a dictionary of Guaran´┐Ż, it 
proved quite well equiped, and that was even an older
version. It does parsing of wordforms for affixes etc. 
It interlinearizes longer texts.

You can get it for free and can get more information
about it at:

< >

The output of Shoebox are plain vanilla ASCII-files,
good for post-processing with any other system on any other 
platform, inclusive Unix or Macintosh. It is not goot for 
printing, though. :-<

There is a facility to format the files for printig a
dictionary with Microsoft Word. I haven't used that facility, 
as I use Unix. I worked on an interface to TeX, but interrupted 
the work on this some years ago. However, I had some promising 

Maybe you would like to search for other software. A
good starting point is the Linguist List itself:

< >

And the site of the missionary organization "Summer
Institute of Linguistics", who is the producer of Shoebox, too, 
has also plenty more of software, some of it useful for working 
with lexicographical data.

< >

Hope that helps. 

Yours sincerely
 S. Drude

In reply to your recent query, you might want to
contact Bill Jancewicz


about Shoebox, which he uses (or used to use just a
couple of years ago). For other data bases, Rand Valentine


might be able to help you out. I found the suggestions
from both of these guys invaluable a few years ago when I began 
my Golden Lake Algonquin database. I eventually settled on 
FileMakerPro, which continues to be updated and is available for 
both Macs and IBMs (I really wanted to use Access, but it wasn't 
available at the time for Macs). Whatever you choose, make sure you 
talk to someone well-versed in the _technical_ aspects of databases 
about the differences between a flat database and a relational
database. The relational database format is more robust and may be 
the better choice (Shoebox is not relational, FileMakerPro and Access 

Good luck!

George Aubin

I saw your message on the Linguist mailing list. I use
Shoebox to maintain my dictionary for the Cheyenne Indian 
language of North America. 
Shoebox is an excellent program, specifically designed for
dictionary work. With Shoebox one can maintain a lexical database, 
easily update it, and then print out copies for proofreading or even basic

Best of all, the price is good, zero cost to anyone who wishes to 
work with it. It is available from the following website,
computer software section:

Best wishes,

Presently, Shoebox remains one of the best software
packages for making multi-lingual dictionaries. You can 
download the entire Shoebox program package from the SIL 
web site (WWW.SIL.ORG, following the links to "Software")

It comes with excellent instructional documentation. I
would strongly suggest following the "Walkthrough" tutorial, 
which provides a sample project to get you familiar with the 
software and procedures.

Happy to answer any questions you may have.

Sincerely, Bill Jancewicz


Yes, Shoebox is good, but LinguaLinks, also put out by SIL, 
is even better in that it lets you establish all kinds of 
semantic links between entries, and can set up subentries in 
more powerful ways than Shoebox. You can get either one by 
free download from the SIL web site (, then hit
"software" and search for Shoebox or Lingualinks). Shoebox is
more user-friendly at this point. We are looking to do a new
suite of programs called Fieldworks which will do all that
LinguaLinks does and more, but with a friendlier interface. But
that won't be out for another year or so.

I would appreciate your letting me know what other responses
people give, particularly on these 2 SIL programs. Don't
include the names of the commenters if that would be awkward, 
but I would be very interested in hearing what others may have
to say about these. Hope you get something really useful to you
out of this query.

Mike Cahill
International Linguistics Coordinator, SIL

Thapelo Otlogetswe
Oxford University
Lincoln College
United Kingdom
Tel: 0044 1865 272569 extension 27300
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