6. The Académie base

This model of a hypertextual base is intended to serve for a sample CD-ROM in the project to computerize the eight complete editions of the Dictionnaire de l'Académie française; this project was presented by myself at the Institut de France in November 19945 and by Isabelle Leroy-Turcan at Cergy-Pontoise in March 19956. One question that I shall do no more than raise here is the extent to which it is pertinent to compare the data of the Dictionnaire de l'Académie with that of Frantext (or its North-American counterpart, the ARTFL textbase) for the same period (17th-20th c.). Their objectives are different -- an inventory of good usage on the part of the Academicians, an partial inventory of written language, mainly literary, in Frantext and ARTFL. On the other hand, several of the Academicians -- amongst others, Corneille, Racine, La Fontaine, Montesquieu, Marivaux, Voltaire, Chateaubriand, Lamartine, Hugo, Sainte-Beuve, Valéry, Mauriac, Claudel -- are present in Frantext through their individual writings7. The three dictionary items doucet/doucette, douze and timoré are indicated as having a restricted use. For doucet, the Académie dictionary restricts its syntagmatic possibilities: «guere d'usage que dans ces exemples»; Frantext contains both examples that conform to these restrictions and others that do not. The same type of restriction is applied by the dictionary to douze, and here again the ARTFL data gives examples of conformant and non-conformant use. In the case of timoré, which according to the dictionary, from 1694 to 1878, is almost exclusively applied to a fear of offending God, the semantic restriction is increasingly refuted by the textual data as time goes by. The Frantext (and ARTFL) data has no other function here than to suggest paths of enquiry -- particularly in the case of the feminine and masculine nouns and pronouns determined by timoré and of its collocates -- and to emphasize the necessity of critically examining both the observed and the observation.

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Note 5. Wooldridge, «Projet d'informatisation du Dictionnaire de l'Académie (1694-1935)».

Note 6. I. Leroy-Turcan & T.R. Wooldridge, «L'informatisation des premiers dictionnaires de langue française: les difficultés propres à la première édition du Dictionnaire de l'Académie française», Journée des dictionnaires 1995, Université de Cergy-Pontoise, March 1995.

Note 7. An Académie text base, complementary to the Académie dictionary base, is in preparation. It will be discussed in a paper at the ALLC/ACH conference in Bergen in June 1996.