Best online dictionary and best online corpus

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zorro (3)
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Joined: Wed Jan 17, 2007 3:33 pm

Best online dictionary and best online corpus

Post by zorro (3) » Tue May 28, 2013 1:39 am

Hi all,

Just wondering whether you can point me to your favourite online dictionary and corpus?

Preferably, the dictionary will have extensive examples of usage, classify verbs into transitive, monotransitive etc and basically do a lot of my thinking for me.

The corpus would ideally be contemporary ( this one goes up to 1993 only) and have some kind of help function so I can figure out exactly how to use it.

Many thanks in advance.

zorro (3)

zorro (3)
Posts: 45
Joined: Wed Jan 17, 2007 3:33 pm

Post by zorro (3) » Tue May 28, 2013 1:46 am

Oh, and also, I'm sure I used to use a corpus which gave me some kind of information on how often words or phrases are used. Can anyone help on suggesting one of these?

For example, I came across a teacher wanting to include the word hocus-pocus in a teaching syllabus, but I feel this is really not commonly used and so is not that useful to learn. I would like to have my instincts verified so I can show the teacher in real terms how often it is used.

Thanks again.

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Post by fluffyhamster » Tue May 28, 2013 3:07 am

Here are some instructions I wrote for somebody once on how to use the [email protected]:
At first it's a bit tricky to operate/enter the POS (Part of Speech) tag selections, so for now as an example you might like to just copy and paste the following into the 'SEARCH STRING' box and then click the 'SEARCH' button:

will [vb*] [v?g*]

You need to give the search a little while to present the results.

You will then be presented with a list that begins like this:

WILL BE LOOKING 223 (number of examples)
etc (in descending order of phrase frequency)

(This is an example that I gave somebody who was wondering how to contextualize "Future Progressive" ("obviously" LOL)).

You can click on the phrase or number to get a listing of the actual examples in which they appear.

If you like, I can help you work out how to operate at least this function of that site, but you can probably do so for yourself by e.g. clicking on the ? help mark to the right of the POS LIST, which provides the following tip: 'Probably the easiest way to use part of speech tags is by selecting them from the drop-down list (click on [POS LIST] to show it). By default, the tag will be inserted at the end of the string in the WORD(S) field.' (NB: One selects more than one POS by left-clicking on the light blue area outside the POS LIST box after the first selection has been made and then clicking back in the POS LIST for the second and so on).
The online dictionary that I use most often is the LDoCE, but I also make a fair bit of use of the OALD, MED, CALD, and sometimes the MWLD. Here are the current links for them all:

Here's a comparative review I wrote of slightly older print+CD-ROM editions of each of these (e.g. the LDoCE4 rather than 5, the OALD7 rather than 8, the MED1 rather than 2): . I think for students the OALD is best, but the LDoCE has useful frequency indications and strict ordering of subphrases according to frequency criteria than just simple A-Z order. IMHO the MED2 introduced too many meaning divisions for entries, and AFAIK the CALD still suffers from the same lumping together of POSs that similarly made the COBUILD dictionaries slightly less useful (it is more useful/quicker for users in terms of access speed to keep POSs separate, as users will often intuit that they are dealing with a verb rather than a noun, for example).

Another very useful dictionary (esp. for double-checking meaning divisions on the basis of collocations) is the OCD:

For detailed frequency data I suggest stuff like the following (COCA is more up to date than the BNC): >

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