A classroom-based study on the effectiveness of lexicographic resources


  • Esra Abdelzaher University of Debrecen




Decoding and encoding tasks, FrameNet, cognitive lexicography, guide words, macrostructure, microstructure, monolingual learner’s dictionary, sense delineation


Machine-readable databases such as FrameNet (based on frame semantics) and WordNet (based on lexical semantic relations) appeared in the 1990s and became part of the lexicographic scene. The current study argues that FrameNet and WordNet can contribute to addressing the lexicographic challenge of sense delineation and elicit better performance from learners of English as a second language. The study examined the decoding and encoding performance of university students (n = 48) after exposure to modified lexicographic entries from FrameNet, WordNet, and the online Oxford Learner’s Dictionary. The classroom experiment assessed the accuracy of sense selection, user perplexity, and the accuracy of synonym production, and measured the response time for each question. An online survey followed the test, in order to collect further information about students’ dictionary use and evaluation of guide words and definitions. Results revealed significant intergroup differences in the response time, perplexity level, and encoding performance. Learners who consulted the modified FrameNet-based entries were the fastest and most successful among the three groups. Future studies can benefit from simplifying the name of frames in FrameNet and modifying the microstructure of the database for pedagogical purposes.

Author Biography

Esra Abdelzaher, University of Debrecen

Esra M. Abdelzaher (MA 2017) is an ABD-PhD candidate of linguistics at the University of Debrecen, where she started her research on computational lexicography at the Institute of English and American Studies. Her main research interests include Frame semantics, FrameNet, cognitive semantics and corpus linguistics.


Abdelzaher, E. M. (2017). Compiling a cognition-based thematic monolingual dictionary. Cognitive Linguistic Studies, 4(2), 313–329. https://doi.org/10.1075/cogls.00007.abd

Abdelzaher, E. M. (2021). Cognitive linguistics and digital lexicography. In W. Xu and J. Taylor (Eds.), The Routledge handbook of cognitive linguistics (pp. 568–584). https://doi.org/10.4324/9781351034708-38

Abdelzaher, E., and Tóth, Á. (2020). Defining crime: A multifaceted approach based on lexicographic relevance and distributional semantics. Argumentum, 16, 44–63. https://doi.org/10.34103/ARGUMENTUM/2020/4

Abdelzaher, E., Elghamry, K., and Elattar, A. (2017). A corpus-based Arabic valency dictionary: The case of fighting verbs. Egyptian Journal of Language Engineering, 4(1), 20–28. https://doi.org/10.21608/ejle.2017.59407

Atkins, B. T. S., and Rundell, M. (2008). The Oxford guide to practical lexicography. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Atkins, S., Rundell, M., and Sato, H. (2003). The contribution of FrameNet to practical lexicography. International Journal of Lexicography, 16(3), 333–357. https://doi.org/10.1093/ijl/16.3.333

Baker, C. F., Fillmore, C. J., and Lowe, J. B. (1998). The Berkeley FrameNet project (pp. 86–90). Montreal: ACL. https://doi.org/10.3115/980845.980860

Bergenholtz, H., and Agerbo, H. (2018). A typology of lexicographical tools based on information needs and user types. Lexicography, 5(2), 97–121. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40607-018-0050-1

Bryl, V., Tonelli, S., Giuliano, C., and Serafini, L. (2012). A novel FrameNet-based resource for the semantic web. In Proceedings of the 27th annual ACM symposium on applied computing (pp. 360–365). New York: ACM. https://doi.org/10.1145/2245276.2245346

De Schryver, G. M., Chishman, R., and da Silva, B. (2019). An overview of digital lexicography and directions for its future: An interview with Gilles-Maurice de Schryver. Calidoscópio, 17(3), 659–683. https://doi.org/10.4013/ld.2019.173.13

De Schryver, G. M., and Nabirye, M. (2018). Corpus-driven Bantu lexicography. Part 2: Lemmatisation and rulers for Lusoga. Lexikos, 28(1), 79–111. https://doi.org/10.5788/28-1-1458

Dziemianko, A. (2016). An insight into the visual presentation of signposts in English learners’ dictionaries online. International Journal of Lexicography, 29(4), 490–524. https://doi.org/10.1093/ijl/ecv040

Dziemianko, A. (2017). Dictionary entries and bathtubs: Does it make sense? International Journal of Lexicography, 30(3), 263–284. https://doi.org/10.1093/ijl/ecw010

Dziemianko, A. (2019). Homogeneous or heterogeneous? Insights into signposts in learners’ dictionaries. International Journal of Lexicography, 32(4), 432–457. https://doi.org/10.1093/ijl/ecz011

Fellbaum, C. (2014). Large-scale lexicography in the digital age. International Journal of Lexicography, 27(4), 378–395. https://doi.org/10.1093/ijl/ecu018

Fillmore, C. (2003). Double-decker definitions: The role of frames in meaning explanations. Sign Language Studies, 3(3), 263–295. https://doi.org/10.1353/sls.2003.0008

Fillmore, C., and Atkins, S. (1992). Towards a frame-based organization of the lexicon: The semantics of RISK and its neighbors. In A. Lehrer and E. F. Kittay (Eds.), Frames, fields, and contrasts: New essays in semantic and lexical organization (pp. 75–102). Hillsdale: Erlbaum Lawrence Associates.

Fillmore, C. J., Johnson, C. R., and Petruck, M. R. L. (2003). Background to FrameNet. International Journal of Lexicography, 16(3), 235–250. https://doi.org/10.1093/ijl/16.3.235

Geeraerts, D. (2010). Theories of lexical semantics. In Theories of lexical semantics. Oxford: Oxford University Press https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198700302.001.0001

Gouws, R. H. (2018). Dictionaries and access. In P. A. Feurtes-Olivera (Ed.), The Routledge handbook of lexicography (pp. 43–58). London and New York: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315104942-4

Halas, A. (2016). The application of the prototype theory in lexicographic practice: A proposal of a model for lexicographic treatment of polysemy. Lexikos, 26(1), 124–144. https://doi.org/10.5788/26-1-1355

Hanks, P. (2013). Lexicography from earliest times to the present. In A. Keith, The Oxford handbook of the history of linguistics (pp. 503–536). Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199585847.013.0023

Hanks, P. (2014). Lexicography. In R. Mitkov (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of computational linguistics (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199276349.013.0003

Hasegawa, Y., Lee-Goldman, R., Kong, A., and Kimi, A. (2011). FrameNet as a resource for paraphrase research. Constructions and Frames, 3(1), 104–127. https://doi.org/10.1075/cf.3.1.04has

Jódar-Sánchez, J. A. (2019). FrameNet as a resource to teach Spanish as a foreign language. In M. Carrió-Pastor (Ed.), Teaching language and teaching literature in virtual environments (pp. 121–149). Singapore: Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-13-1358-5_7

Kilgarriff, A. (1998). The hard parts of lexicography. International Journal of Lexicography, 11(1), 51–54. https://doi.org/10.1093/ijl/11.1.51

Kilgarriff, A. (2007a). Word sense disambiguation. In E. Agirre and P. Edmonds (Eds.), Word sense disambiguation: Algorithms and applications (vol. 33). Dordrecht: Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-4809-8_2

Kilgarriff, A. (2007b). Googleology is bad science. Computational Linguistics, 3(1), 147–151. https://doi.org/10.1162/coli.2007.33.1.147

Kilgarriff, A., Husák, M., McAdam, K., Rundell, M., and Rychlý, P. (2007). GDEX: Automatically finding good dictionary examples in a corpus. 2. A learner’s dictionary project (pp. 425–432). Euralex.

Lew, R., and Pajkowska, J. (2007). The effect of signposts on access speed and lookup task success in long and short entries. Revista Horizontes de Linguística Aplicada, 6(2), 235–252.

Miller, G. A., and Fellbaum, C. (2007). WordNet then and now. Language Resources and Evaluation, 41, 209–214. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10579-007-9044-6

Miller, G. A., Beckwith, R., Fellbaum, C., Gross, D., and Miller, K. J. (1990). Introduction to WordNet: An on-line lexical database. International Journal of Lexicography, 3(4), 235–244. https://doi.org/10.1093/ijl/3.4.235

Nelson, K. (2020). Informing lexicographic choices through corpus and perceptual data. International Journal of Lexicography, 33(3), 251–268. https://doi.org/10.1093/ijl/ecz030

Nesi, H., and Tan, K. H. (2011). The effect of menus and signposting on the speed and accuracy of sense selection. International Journal of Lexicography, 24(1), 79–96. https://doi.org/10.1093/ijl/ecq040

Ostermann, C. (2015). 4. Cognitive linguistics and lexicography. In Cognitive lexicography. Berlin and Boston: De Gruyter. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110424164-007

Pedersen, T., Patwardhan, S., and Michelizzi, J. (2004). WordNet::Similarity – measuring the relatedness of concepts (pp. 38–41). In Demonstration Papers at HLT-NAACL. Boston: ACL. https://doi.org/10.3115/1614025.1614037

Prévot, L., Huang, C. R., Calzolari, N., Gangemi, A., Lenci, A., and Oltramari, A. (2010). Ontology and the lexicon: A multi-disciplinary perspective. In H. Chu-Ren (Ed.), Ontology and the lexicon. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511676536

Ptasznik, B., and Lew, R. (2014). Do menus provide added value to signposts in print monolingual dictionary entries? An application of linear mixed-effects modelling in dictionary user research. International Journal of Lexicography, 27(3), 241–258. https://doi.org/10.1093/ijl/ecu010

Ptasznik, B., and Lew, R. (2019). New-line and run-on guiding devices in print monolingual dictionaries for learners of English. Lexikos, 29(1). https://doi.org/10.5788/29-1-1517

Rundell, M. (2008). Recent trends in English pedagogical lexicography. In T. Fontenelle (Ed.), Practical lexicography: A reader. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Smirnova, A. (2021). In awe of God, nature and technology: A lexical approach to the differentiation of emotional responses. 3L: Language, Linguistics, Literature, 27(4), 230–243. https://doi.org/10.17576/3L-2021-2704-16

Speranza, M., and Magnini, B. (2010). Merging global and specialized linguistic ontologies. In H. Chu-Ren (Ed.), Ontology and the lexicon (pp. 224–238). https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511676536.014

Stoet, G. (2010). PsyToolkit: A software package for programming psychological experiments using Linux. Behavior Research Methods, 42(4), 1096–1104. https://doi.org/10.3758/BRM.42.4.1096

Stoet, G. (2017). PsyToolkit: A novel web-based method for running online questionnaires and reaction-time experiments. Teaching of Psychology, 44(1), 24–31. https://doi.org/10.1177/0098628316677643



How to Cite

Abdelzaher, E. (2022). A classroom-based study on the effectiveness of lexicographic resources. Lexicography, 9(2), 139–174. https://doi.org/10.1558/lexi.22164