Lexicography tools for Dene languages

“Lexware” comprises a file format and collection of tools for dictionary building, originally developed by Bob Hsu at the University of Hawaii starting in the 1970s. Despite the availability of more modern dictionary-building software, Lexware still offers some major advantages, in particular the flexibility to immediately add new data elements for a word entry as the understanding (modeling) of a language grows.

One group of lexicographers still using Lexware are those working on the Dene Athabaskan languages of Alaska, at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, and elsewhere. In 2018, Cam Webb started informatics support work for lexicographers Jim Kari and Jason Harris, who are working on Lower Tanana and Gwich’in dictionaries (respectively). These pages and tools are the result of this work. The outputs of this project are a Dene Lexware ‘grammar’, a Lexware file validator, a Lexware-to-formatted-dictionary converter, and tools for editing Lexware files.

This work was funded by the UAF Alaska Native Language Center and the College of Rural and Community Development.