[MLE] Dictionaries on the Web

Dear MLE friends,

A useful way to promote a local language are dictionaries. Nowadays they do not need to be distributed in printed formats but can be web based and be printed on demand. A new free tool has come out to enable language communities to start building up a dictionary. This can be very helpful for teachers to help learn the local language. The tool is free and is called "Webonary". The website states:

Webonary gives language groups the ability to put their bilingual or multilingual dictionaries on the web with a minimum of technical help. Each dictionary is built around a search bar, which looks for a word throughout the dictionary, and returns the most relevant results to the top of the list.
More details are given below.

Karsten van Riezen
Education Consultant, SIL Int.

SIL, South Asia Group

LinkedIn Profile
Recommended: http://www.nmrc-jnu.org/

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-------- Original Message --------
Subject: [LTS] Dictionaries on the Web
Date: Wed, 22 Jun 2011 17:01:46 -0500
From: Steve Miller
Reply-To: Linguistic & Translation Software - General 
To: LTS 

We are pleased to announce a new software product made to put dictionaries on the web. It's called Webonary. The Webonary project intends to give language groups the ability to put their bilingual or multilingual dictionaries on the web with a minimum of technical help. For full information see: http://pathway.sil.org/webonary/.

Working Sites

Webonary has been evolving for a while now.
In a collaborative effort, The Cherokee Nation Foundation partnered with SIL International to develop the Cherokee Electronic Dictionary, which the Cherokee said is “critical to the continuing revitalization of the Cherokee language.” This was the pilot project for Webonary, and it proved to be a success.
The Nousu-Yi-Chinese-English Glossary showcases Yi and Chinese scripts working together with the Roman script for English. The site is still under construction but nearly complete.

The Webonary site itself uses our third generation WordPress theme.


The most distinctive characteristic of Webonary is its search bar. Looking for a word? Type it in the search, like an ordinary search engine.
The search returns results based on relevance. That is, if the word you are looking for is found in a headword, that will be more important than finding the word in a definition for another word. “Reversal indexes,” also called “gloss to vernacular,” can also be imported from FLEx into Webonary. Furthermore, the search can also be filtered for a specific language, if desired, or even by part of speech or semantic domain.


Webonary uses WordPress code for a foundation, the best known and best supported software in the world. It is used by more than 56% of the sites that use a content management system (CMS). WordPress allows for endless variation and extension using themes, plugins, and widgets.
Informational pages can easily be made. Comments providing user feedback on dictionary entries or pages can be turned on or off.
The software can run on Linux, Windows, or Mac.

Comparison to Lexique Pro

Lexique Pro is a fine piece of software, one that some have used to put their dictionaries online. However, we had a number of reasons for creating Webonary.
One was that Lexique Pro requires a computer to retrieve all the dictionary entries for a particular letter before it can display one entry, which can take a long time if the dictionary has a lot of entries. The approach Webonary uses allows fast searching for a single entry or even a single word.
Since Webonary is based on WordPress code, support is not limited to a single software developer. Millions of people use WordPress worldwide, including a number of them within SIL.
The approach we are using allows gives the option for people in the language community to make comments about a particular entry. For example, someone might say that an entry is missing a sense. Someone authorized to make changes to the dictionary can determine if the comment is accurate, and if so, can make the appropriate change
Lexique Pro runs only on Windows. Webonary runs on Windows, Linux, and Mac.


Take a look at the website. Feel free to contact me.

Steve Miller
Software Developer, SIL International