Somewhere between a glossary and a lexicon, safe[ enough] for work

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2008/05/30 10:01 -04:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2008/05/30/8562102.aspx


WARNING: if you are easily offended, LEAVE NOW. Get out. Get the hell out. Do not read this particular blog any further. If you are still here then the implicit assumption is that you are not offended, or are irretrievably stupid (since a smart person who is easily offended would have left!).

The subject of this post may not be the most strikingly unusual communication related to this Blog that I have ever received, but I will admit that it is definitely within the top five....

Self-described occasional reader and lurker Cliff was interested in understanding about the difference between a lexicon and a glossary in order to understand whether the word lexicon was being used correctly in a specific context.

His question? Well, he asked me if I

Given the final question, I was almost disappointed when I had to respond that I hadn't actually seen the movie (and was not entirely sure about the actresses mentioned), which knocked me out of all of the rest of the inquiry.

But I asked whether he could send me a sample list with some of the words in it (and whether they included definitions), assuming they were "safe for work" (this was an adult film, after all); perhaps I could answer the question even though I did not have the DVD?

He told me that every word was on its own (one per screen) with a definition running from 1-4 sentences, and he provided the full word list, saying that it was small enough include, and should be safe [enough] for work.

I will reprint the list he sent, here:

It stayed pretty clean until the end, and never got too bad even then....

Now if you look at the definitions for glossary and lexicon in Wikipedia, they might provide some context:

Glossary -- a list of terms in a particular domain of knowledge with the definitions for those terms. Traditionally, a glossary appears at the end of a book and includes terms within that book which are either newly introduced or at least uncommon.

Lexicon -- In linguistics, the lexicon (from Greek Λεξικόν) of a language is its vocabulary, including its words and expressions. More formally, it is a language's inventory of lexemes. The lexicon includes the lexemes used to actualize words. Lexemes are formed according to morpho-syntactic rules and express sememes. In this sense, a lexicon organizes the mental vocabulary in a speaker's mind: First, it organizes the vocabulary of a language according to certain principles (for instance, all verbs of motion may be linked in a lexical network) and second, it contains a generative device producing (new) simple and complex words according to certain lexical rules.

Now looking at the word list Cliff sent, there are clearly aspects of both in there -- items that are really disconnected terms whose definitions probably help one understand their use within the movie that would be most at home in a glossary, and items that appear to really be based on lexemes (e.g. those built with lexemes CHIP, SIM, GRID, and SKIN) that really do seem more lexicon-esque.

I admit that I am shocked at how a pornographic movie could truly have this much backstory.

I mean glossary or lexicon, either way this looks like a lot of information to have to take in!

In the end, I think that given that there are those many lexicon-like entries the term lexicon may well make sense, though it certainly seems to be structured like a glossary (perhaps if it had more cross references between those lexeme-built terms might cause me to change my opinion here?).

He then volunteered that the DVD included a PDF file with the screenplay, which was 75 pages long. I was starting to wonder if he was on commission or something? :-)

My final question for him (remembering the navel pouch from Robert A. Heinlein's Friday) was who in the movie had the DERMAL POUCH, exactly.

He said Hillary Scott, and added that it was an important plot point, and reminded him of the Heinlein novel as well.

Oh, and he forwarded this image of the movie's cover to me, after assuring to me that everyone in the cover was clothed:

and told me that Hillary Scott was actually the girl on the left and Eva Angelina was the one in the middle, though the names on the top of the people in this image might tend to mislead on that point.

This whole lexicon thing and the 75-page screenplay (assuming it was lots of dialog rather than just position directions?) makes me wonder about the bonafides of the movie as a movie. At least superficially it looks like someone put a lot of thought into all this, including a bit of linguistic thought.

Cliff also said the casting info on Disk #3 where they made sure the people casted could handle the lexicon's words was also quite amusing from a linguistic standpoint. I agreed to take his word on that.

I don't know whether to be delighted, disgusted, entertained, or terrified -- I really doubt this sort of thing is covered quite so colorfully in undergraduate linguistics classes!

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referenced by

2012/01/02 Sometimes a Cigar is just a Cigar. And a Bing is just a Bing...

2008/06/15 On the [pragmatic?] pronunciation of "XXX"

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