|Tanneke Schoonheim, Carole Tiberius, Jan Niestadt, Rob Tempelaars,
|Dictionary Use and Language Games: Getting to Know the Dictionary as Part of the Game
|Most electronic dictionaries promise dynamic, proactive search via multiple criteria and via diverse access routes, but, often, they do not realise their full potential and their search options are still limited to the traditional search from word to meaning. The ANW (Algemeen Nederlands Woordenboek) - a free online scholarly dictionary of contemporary standard Dutch, which is currently being compiled at the Instituut voor Nederlandse Lexicologie (INL) - is different. It offers a range of search strategies, helping the user both with encoding and decoding tasks.
In December 2009, a demo version of the dictionary was launched. The dictionary is updated on a regular basis with an average of 500 to 750 new entries each time. An analysis of the log files shows that since its launch the average use of the dictionary is fairly stable, except for November 2010, when it almost tripled as a result of a language game, Het Verloren Woord (‘The Lost Word’) that INL launched. During a period of 6 weeks, participants received every week one or more cryptic descriptions or instructions in order to find the ‘lost’ word. Each description and/or instruction gave part of the word away and after solving all cryptic descriptions, the lost word, could be found in the ANW. The game attracted almost 2,000 players, who for several weeks explored the ANW thoroughly, using all the search facilities that are offered. We will discuss the effect of this language game on the use of the ANW dictionary. In addition, we will show how a language game can play an educational role in familiarising users with the new possibilities that online dictionaries offer.
|dictionary use, language game, log files.