Word sketch lexicography: New perspectives on lexicographic studies of Chinese near synonyms

Shan WANG, Chu-Ren HUANG

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Comparative study of near synonyms is one of the most productive research paradigms in Chinese lexicography. Empirical studies to discriminate near synonyms are either introspection-based or corpus-based. Yet, due to the large quantity of data in a corpus, lexicological studies of Chinese rarely make full use of the corpus data. To solve this problem, Kilgarriff’s Word Sketch Engine is designed to automatically obtain grammatical and collocational relations of target words from corpora for researchers to further analyze them. Chinese Word Sketch (CWS), a language specific version of Word Sketch Engine, provides a tool to automatically identify grammatical information for Gigaword size corpora. Through a comparative study of the synonymous emotion words 愉快 yúkuài 'pleasant' and 高興 gāoxìng 'happy', this paper illustrates how CWS can distinguish them and help lexicographers to discriminate their subtle differences. In particular, it focuses on the context where these synonymous words can be used to define each other and context where they should be differentiated. It also discusses how to select information from CWS such that the information represented would be suitable for lexicographic studies. Through the study of near synonyms, we propose that Word Sketch Lexicography will lead the next generation of dictionaries. Copyright © 2017 The Author(s).
Original languageEnglish
Article number11
JournalLingua Sinica
Issue number1
Early online dateNov 2017
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017




Wang, S., & Huang, C.-R. (2017). Word sketch lexicography: New perspectives on lexicographic studies of Chinese near synonyms. Lingua Sinica, 3(1). Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s40655-017-0025-4


  • Word sketch lexicography
  • Word sketch engine
  • Chinese word sketch
  • Near synonyms
  • Emotion words