Crystal – there’s something about that wonderful lucid, mineral name. Students of linguistics who remember it will be happily amused to see that British jack-of all-language-trades David Crystal has started a company called Crystal Semantics which has just launched a search engine called Textonomy Reveal – “designed to deliver relevant, coherent, and accurate results based on the linguistic sense of the words used in a search.”

“The sense engine which drives Textonomy is the result of a search linguistics development programme which has taken six years to date and involved an investment of over £4 million in lexicographic and encyclopedic research. The dictionary component currently has a coverage of over 200,000 items, and the encyclopedia component contains some 4 million words. The apparatus developed to enable the sense engine to function has received a UK patent, with US patent pending.”

Crystal originally developed his own taxonomy of word meanings for the print version of The Cambridge Encyclopedia, and his work was taken up by the late Dutch company AND Software for various applications. Don’t confuse Crystal Semantics with Translation Crystallization which according to W.A.P.A Translations“>W.A.P.A Translations is a

“new trend… has stealthily been emerging in the translation industry. Instead of companies outsourcing their translation work to many different freelancers all over the world, corporations prefer to have all their work handled by a so-called ‘translation partner’. This partner in translation looks after the clients needs and demands from the beginning of the project until long after the final stage of the ‘crystallization process’ has been completed.”

Back to Textonomy: It seems to work only for English, so there is still time to look forward to a cross/multilingual version along the lines of EuroWordNet. Or will this latest taxonomy/thesaurus effort be gobbled up in the global search engine wars pitching Google against Yahoo and Microsoft? Out with your crystal ball!

Andrew Joscelyne
European, a language technology industry watcher since Electric Word was first published, sometime journalist, consultant, market analyst and animateur of projects. Interested in technologies for augmenting human intellectual endeavour, multilingual méssage, the history of language machines, the future of translation, and the life of the digital mindset.


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