Multilingual Online Dictionary


How to use this dictionary
Structure of dictionary entries (lemma)
Categories of Lexical Units of Czech Sign Language

How to use this dictionary

DICTIO contains several dictionaries, that are cross-linked. It has two main parts: translator and dictionary.

You can switch among the dictionary and the translator using the link in the left top corner of the page.


Results (entries), labeled by the icon can be shown in the Dictionary (including explanations and examples of use).


Dictionary contains several monolingual dictionaries. The number of entries included in the dictionaries is lower than number of results, that can be found in translator, since process of creating explanations is huge time consuming.

Specific lemmas in the dictionary can be found using the searching tool, that varies among single languages. Lemmas can be searched only in the selected language. Once you switch to another languege, search results and also searching options will be lost.

(1) List of languages.
Current language has coloured background.
(2) Floating head (visible all the time)
(3) Searching tool
(4) List of results
(5) Head of entry
(6) Formal part
(7) Semantic part

Searching in the Czech (English) dictionary

Searching can be done the usual way by entering the whole searched expression or part of it.

Searching results are listed in alphabetical order. Collocations are connected to single words and are labeled by star "*". There are listed all collocations that are connected to the current entry.

Searching in the sign language dictionaries

Sign language lemmas can be searched in three different ways.

Searching in sign language dictionary using handshapes and signing places.
Signs can be searched based on the specified shapes of the dominant hand and the signing space.

The shapes in the hand shapes menu are ranked according to the czech version of Stokoe Notation. Hand shapes in a green frame represent a group of several mutually similar hand shapes. The selected hand shape(s) can be transferred into the search parameters by clicking. The active selected shape is marked by a red frame. The entered search parameters are displayed in the blue area of the search form. The place of articulation is entered in the search form in the same way.

Symbols of the search parameters can be removed by clicking on the selected symbol, which is indicated by a red frame.

When searching a one-handed sign, the search does not need to be specified any further.

To search two-handed signs, there are additional options that allow you to specify additional properties of the searched sign (the identity of the dominant and non-dominant hand, activity of both hands).

Single signs are listed first due to handshape and signing space, more complex signs later.

Search using SignWriting
This option allows the user to enter a very precise transcription of the searched sign. The symbols that the searched sign should contain can be entered using a tool that opens when clicking on "enter/edit". Individual symbols are selected by dragging to the desktop. Subgroups of symbols are automatically opened when clicking on the selected symbol. To return to the basic symbols menu, the narrow vertical strip between the worktop and the offer of symbols can be used.

The dictionary searches for an exact match of the filling and orientation of the symbols ( more options will be added in the future ).

The user can similarly search from any dictionary entry by dragging the SignWriting to the search form. Thus entered symbols for search purposes can be additionally adjusted by using the editor selecting “enter/edit”.

Search based on the translation into Czech (English)
This option searches for signs of Czech sign language based on their Czech equivalents.

Structure of dictionary entries (lemma)

The lemmas in the dictionary generally consist of three color-coded sections. (1) LEMMA HEADER (2) FORMAL SECTION OF THE LEMMA (3) SEMANTIC SECTION OF THE LEMMA (4) COLLOCATIONS




Lemma header

The header of the Czech language lemma consists, i.e. the basic (dictionary) form of the lexeme displayed in accordance with codified spelling (1), and is supplemented by information on pronunciation (2) if the pronunciation is not clear.

For sign languages there is no firmly established conventional notation form. The Czech sign language lexeme is therefore displayed in several forms. For the purpose of this dictionary, the frontal view video (1) is considered the basic form (lemma), which is accompanied by a side view (2). Besides that, there are transcriptions in SignWriting (3) and HamNoSys (4) and visualization through an avatar (5).

All published lexemes contain a SignWriting transcription. An avatar is displayed only if there is a HamNoSys transcription available of the given lexeme, which is not the case for all lexemes.

Formal section

The formal section of Czech language lemma contains the following information: – Word origin (in case of loanwords),
– Lexical category,
– Possible variations (spelling, lexical category and morphology)
– Morphological paradigm of flexible lexical categories (declension table),
– Stylistic specifics (territorial, social or stylistic restrictions on use of the expression).
The formal section of the Czech sign language lemma is divided into a grammatical and stylistic section.
The grammatical section includes the following information:
- Sign origin
Lexical category
- Speech component – only for lexemes, where the speech component is compulsory in articulation; it is displayed in lowercase letters. Word parts in brackets are optional. If there are several possible variants of speech components, they are separated by a slash. E.g.: "term(ín)/datum".
- Oral component – only indicated when compulsory.

Semantic section

This section covers the explanation of the meaning using examples, information about semantic relations and settled multi-word expressions containing the explained expression.

The explanation of the meaning (semantic definition) respects the usual form of dictionary definitions with minor modifications for sign language, which seek to preserve the naturalness of the discourse (e.g. the expression in the header and the expression that constitutes the core of the semantic explanation do not necessarily have to be of the same lexical category; repetition of the explained expression at the beginning of the definition is allowed). In accordance with lexicographic tradition all meanings which relate to one form are indicated under one lemma. In the dictionary a distinction is made between homonymy (multiple lemmas) and polysemy (only one lemma); unclear cases are classified under one lemma. Moreover, the various interpretations of the meaning may be indicated by one of the semantic areas, which provides information about the context (scientific discipline or sector of human activity in general) in which the given expression in the mentioned meaning usually can occur. Such indication is taken over from the original sources in cases where also the original definition is taken over; for newly created lemmas (especially lemmas of a terminological nature), one of the semantic areas mentioned in the used sources is assigned (for more detailed information on sources see page "About"). Meanings indicated for specific areas follow after the general meanings (i.e. after meanings which do not belong to a specific area). A complete list of used semantic areas can be viewed here.

Examples of use are presented in the form of sentences. Their purpose is to demonstrate the grammatical (or stylistic) features and specific connotations of the word described. In some cases, this section focuses more on demonstrations of the use of the word in typical syntactic relations (e.g. with a number of typical verbs or prepositions), while sometimes it is more of a specification of the semantic definition. Examples are currently obtained from several sources: in the case of Czech sign language, they are developed in working groups, i.e. they are created (or checked or approved) on purpose by native users of Czech sign language; in case of the Czech language, they are: a) traced in the corpus of existing texts using the instrument Sketch Engine (sources of the corpus for the Czech language can be found here; b) taken from the source dictionaries and reformulated into sentences in case no good examples are found in the corpus.

Further information in this field are the semantic relations to the units of the given language (synonyms, antonyms) and to the units of the other language in the dictionary (in case of Czech sign language translation and vice versa). Items in this section of the semantic part of the lemma may contain a reference to another separate lemma (e.g. a lemma of semantic equivalence in Czech sign language can be accessed by one click from the lemma in Czech language), or have the form of plain text. In the latter case the corresponding lemma was not yet processed (the link will appear in the future), or it is not expedient to process it for the dictionary (e.g. when the sign is translated into Czech as a collocation which is not settled).

The last item for the lemma are settled collocations containing the explained word. This section includes both short collocations (phrasemes, idioms, some analogies) and complete proverbs and sayings. The criterion for inclusion in the dictionary of multi-word units is their idiomatic character: the meaning of the collocation as a whole is not derivable only from the meaning of the individual words.

Categories of Lexical Units of Czech Sign Language

The first piece of information stated in the formal description of the Czech Sign Language entry is the lexical category of the sign. As in every natural language, Czech Sign Language also features groups of lexical units that differ from each other in aspects of grammar as well as in the type of general meaning that they bear. Traditionally, these differences are classified in terms of lexical categories (parts of speech), which happens across different languages of the world. Defining individual lexical categories based on the combination of morphological, syntactical and semantic properties of word units is thus regarded as a sufficiently general tool for the systematization of the lexis of any natural language. In accordance with this tradition, the standard procedure in our dictionary is to assign one lexical category to each lexical unit. Considering the grammatical structure of sign languages in general and the fact that the theory of Czech Sign Language is still in an early stage of development, it is obvious that classification into lexical categories is not an unambiguous process. It is thus necessary to comment briefly on the chosen method and to define terms used in the dictionary.

Our strategy is to utilize findings of general linguistics as well as of the existing research into Czech Sign Language. Therefore, we do not intend to avoid applying traditional lexical categories if the specifics of Czech Sign Language do not preclude this application. If this is not possible, we use some terms from scholarly works on Czech Sign Language or introduce new terms, as defined below. Considering that a complex theoretical description of the grammar of Czech Sign Language has yet to be completed by relevant academic departments, our classification does not purport to be more than a starting point for further discussion among experts. We use the following traditional parts of speech as lexical categories that describe the lexis of Czech Sign Language: noun, verb, pronoun, numeral, conjunction and particle . Drawing on specialized works on Czech Sign Language,[1] we also use the category " categorical expression ". We provide new definitions of the terms modifier and question expression. Expressions traditionally termed classifiers (or depictions) have yet to be included in the dictionary.

Criteria for classification of signs into lexical categories
1) Noun
Signs classified as nouns meet the following criteria:

  • semantic: they denote entities (person, animal, thing, etc.) or properties, materials, etc.
  • syntactic: a. they can be linked with basic numerals and other quantifiers; b. simple placing of the next noun is always interpreted as coordination
  • morphological: reduplication of the sign, incorporation of a numeral, or reduplication of the pro-form signifies plural
An auxiliary rule, based on a tendency, is the occurrence of speech components in nouns as opposed to the occurrence of oral components in verbs.

Within the category of nouns, there are two subcategories: common and proper nouns. Common nouns denote groups of entities (classes of persons, objects, phenomena, etc.). Proper nouns, or name signs, denote one specific entity, which they distinguish from other entities of the same kind and thus define it as unique within the particular class.

2) Verb
Signs classified as verbs meet the following criteria:

  • semantic: they denote actions and states
  • syntactic: they cannot be linked with basic numerals
  • morphological: i. they show different types of agreement (place, number); ii. Aspect modification by non-manual means is possible; iii. Reduplication indicates aspect (or object congruence in number)

Possible auxiliary criteria are the occurrence of oral components (as opposed to speech components in nouns) or the possibility of negation by non-manual means. Based on other criteria, verbs are classified into the following subcategories: plain, indicating, locative, and modal.[2] Plain verbs are normally articulated on the body or in its close proximity; they do not take affixes of person, place or number; some of them take affixes of aspect. Indicating verbs take affixes of place but do not take affixes of person, number or place. Locative verbs take affixes of person, number, and aspect but do not take affixes of place. These three groups are also known as lexical verbs. Modal verbs require a lexical verb in an utterance.

3) Pronoun
Only expressions with deictic or anaphoric function are classified as pronouns. There are two subcategories: demonstrative and possessive pronouns. Demonstrative pronouns are expressions whose referent is a participant of the communication situation or an object in the communication situation (deictic use), or a sign to which the speaker’s stretched index finger of the dominant hand points (or, with plural forms, other fingers) (anaphoric use). Possessive pronouns are expressions that state affiliation to a participant of the communication situation or to the sign to which the speaker’s palm points.

4) Numeral
Expressions whose meaning concerns quantity and numbers are classified as numerals. Based on further criteria, especially semantic criteria, one can differentiate among cardinal, ordinal, multiplicative, iconic, and indefinite numerals. Cardinal numerals denote a definite quantity and are articulated in neutral space. Ordinal numerals indicate order (position in a sequence) and their flective morphology is richer (they commonly include a shift in space and sometimes even change of orientation). Multiplicative numerals indicate the number of times the action is repeated, frequency, or the extent to which a particular property is exceeded in comparisons. Iconic numerals are those whose articulation involves imitating the written form of the corresponding number (completely or partially). Indefinite numerals indicate an indeterminate quantity.

5) Conjunction
Signs that indicate various logical relations between two sentences or parts of sentences are classified as conjunctions.

6) Particle
Expressions indicating the speaker’s attitude to the utterance are classified as particles. Within this category, there are two special types – contact and negative particles. Contact particles are expressions used by the speaker to show that s/he expects further interaction. Negative particles are signs that can negate a part of sentence or the whole sentence.

7) Categorical expression
The class of categorical expressions is defined by enumeration according to Půlpánová (2007). From the semantic point of view, these expressions are more or less grammaticalized and can arrange hypero- and hyponymical relations among lexemes; to be more precise, they enable the superordinate or subordinate level to be differentiated from the basic level.

8) Modifier
Signs that further specify an entity or verbal action are classified as modifiers. The subcategories are: qualification, spatial, temporal and aspect modifiers. Qualification modifiers indicate properties of these entities or actions; they differ from the other subcategories in that they are gradable. Spatial modifiers are mostly deictic expressions which, in addition to the position of an object in space, can also indicate the trajectory of movement. Temporal modifiers modify the action of the utterance; they can function as a temporal frame of an utterance; they differ from the other subcategories in that they incorporate numerical morphemes; potential reduplication then indicates frequency, not plural. Aspect modifiers modify action from the point of view of its beginning, end and course, or absence of realization. They can only be linked with verbs.

9) Question expression
Signs that correspond to the term wh-words (common in general linguistics) are classified as question expressions. These signs are used to form question-word questions.

Sources:[1] PŮLPÁNOVÁ, L. Kategorizace v českém znakovém jazyce. Master’s Diploma Thesis, Prague: Charles University 2007. [2] See e.g. BÍMOVÁ, P. Klasifikace sloves ve znakových jazycích. [online]. [cit. 2014-11-05]. Available at: http://ruce.cz/clanky/30-klasifikace-sloves-ve-znakovych-jazycich. VALLI, C. - LUCAS, C. - MULROONEY, K.J. - VILLANUEVA, M. Linguistics of American Sign Language: An Introduction. 5. vyd. Washington: Gallaudet University Press, 2011.
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