Imagined Life of a Lexicographer

I'm really excited that I'll finally be able to participate next week in Lexicom, an annual workshop on electronic and corpus lexicography to be held this year at Herstmonceax Castle near Brighton in England. Though one may be able to learn theoretical lexicography from books, practical lexicography, or how to make a dictionary, seems to be learnable efficiently only from those who already have a first-hand experience in this art. This is probably the only workshop on electronic and corpus lexicography, both theoretical and practical, that has been taking place annually for years, and its two teachers are among the most eminent and admired experts in the field.

The main reason why I long wanted and have decided to participate in this unique annual workshop is that I myself want to compile a couple of bilingual dictionaries electronically that involve Modern Hebrew either as their source or target language and are based on or driven by corpus evidence.

I've already started to imagine how my life will look like if I start working on any of these planned dictionaries in an intensive manner as the main task of my routine. Ironically, I'll probably find myself speaking less and less with living people, though the purpose of a synchronic dictionary is to describe their living language; instead, I'll spend more time checking corpus evidence in a written form.

Practical lexicography is probably one of the few areas in which linguists can make a practical contribution to the society. What has attracted me to it is not so much this reason as my feeling that my characters seem to be suitable to endure Sisyphean work called dictionary making.

This workshop next week will tell me if my feeling is justified. I also hope I'll be able to share my experience there with what few regular patient readers of this blog-shmog after I return to Israel in about ten days. Having read impressions of the workshop by past participants, I'm already quite sure that my experience will also be an unforgettable one.