I’d like to share with you a very interesting article from the New York Times which describes how courts in the United States are increasingly turning to the website Urban Dictionary when terms at issue can’t be found in more traditional dictionaries.
I think you might find this very witty post on the So Meta blog, After DuPont bans Teflon® from WordNet, the world is their non-sticky oyster, amusing (or possibly sad).
It involves the giant DuPont that has threatened WordNet, an open-source database of the English language, with legal action because it wasn’t happy with the entry concerning Teflon®.
WordNet, based at Princeton University, provides data for researchers in many fields. It is not a commercial undertaking.
Here are some questions for you. Was WordNet right to capitulate and change the entry? Did DuPont have legal standing to threaten action anyway? (see Dr Butters’ comment at the end of the So Meta post) How much responsibility does a lexicographer have for entries they provide?
Brought to my attention by Dr Tim Grant at Aston among others.
I love this resource, with fast and immediate results, made available by Leipzig University’s Department of Computer Science. At present 158 languages or sub-languages have been included. The texts making up the databases are general and not specific to law.
When you enter a word, you are presented with significant co-occurrences, as well as left and right neighbours of the word, with their frequencies, and two graphical presentations – a kind of spider’s web showing related words that can be clicked on and explored.
Try it out and let me know what you think!