THL Toolbox > Reference > Dictionaries > THL Tibetan Dictionaries Editorial Manual
Contributor(s): David Germano, Chris Hatchell, Steven Weinberger
The present document is written for editors of the dictionary. End users will find it interesting and helpful to understand the structure of the project and the editorial process, but for general questions on how to look up terms, how to use the various dictionary functions, and so forth, please consult the help resources. If you want to participate in The THL Tibetan Dictionaries, please contact us at
Most Tibetan-to-English dictionaries to date have been more like glossaries than dictionaries proper, i.e. they give simple English translation equivalents for Tibetan words rather than proper analyses of terms. Some give basic definitions along with Chinese or Sanskrit equivalent terms. In contrast, a standard modern dictionary like Webster’s includes for each term multiple clearly-differentiated definitions, information on the pronunciation, part of speech, derivation, indications that a definition is pertinent in archaic or slang usages, even occasionally including a picture of the thing being defined or an audio file illustrating the term’s pronunciation. A historical dictionary like The Oxford English Dictionary includes detailed citations of the actual usage of a given term, enabling users to see the history of the word and the contexts in which it has been used. The THL Tibetan Dictionaries are comparable to one of these modern western-style dictionaries, with entries created by experts in the field of Tibetan studies that include complex data about given terms, citations from literature and contemporary spoken usages, integrated multimedia materials, advanced search options, and much more, thereby helping bring the study of the Tibetan language into the 21st century.
A powerful technical framework is in place; the work that remains is the actual creation of dictionary entries. Through an online editing interface that automatically integrates in real time the work of multiple editors working around the world, one can participate in creating the fullest possible dictionary of the Tibetan language, collaboratively created and maintained, available free-of-charge to anyone, anywhere.
A dictionary with capabilities like The THL Tibetan Dictionaries makes for challenges in organization. Creating entries for The THL Tibetan Dictionaries is more complicated than for a simple term-and-meaning dictionary, but editing should become intuitive and efficient once one understands a few basic principles.
The first basic principle of The THL Tibetan Dictionaries is that there is a hierarchy in the way information is organized. Some information within an entry is attached to the term itself (for example: the definition “a basin holding a liquid” is attached to the term “pool”); some information is attached to a piece of information that is not the term itself (for example: a comment on the literary context of a particular sub-definition is attached to that sub-definition rather than the term); and some information is autonomous, but can be associated with different elements throughout the dictionary (for example: a literary quotation is treated as an autonomous entity, but can be associated with a definition of a term, a particular spelling, and so on). How all this works should become clearer as we continue.
Each term entered in the dictionary should include a single definition or a series of related definitions. If you have a single term - i.e. a word with a certain spelling - that can have quite different meanings and/or grammatical functions, the first thing to decide is whether these meanings indicate that there are different definitions of a single term, or whether they are best understood as pertaining to two different terms with the same spelling. Our general principle is that we make different term entries for a word if it has completely different grammatical functions (example: noun vs. verb), or when the word has meanings that are entirely different with no apparent common etymology or semantic relationship. Otherwise, we organize the meanings of a term as definitions, sub-definitions, and sub-sub-definitions within a single dictionary entry. A separate entry would NOT be made for only slightly different grammatical functions, like a word used as a verb and as a verbal auxiliary.
For example, the English word “pool” would result in two separate entries under this system: one entry for its meaning as a transitive verb, and one entry expressing its meanings as a small body of water (a noun), along with its more figurative meaning as a collection of something (another noun). For the two meanings of “pool” as a noun, although the two meanings are quite different, one can see how they are related semantically. Thus they belong under the same dictionary entry.
To give an example from Tibetan, the word rtog pa would have at least three entries: one as a transitive verb, one for its meaning as a chapter or section of a text, and one for its meaning as something like “conceptual consciousness.” This last term entry for rtog pa would have a number of sub-definitions, expressing how the term is differently used and understood in various Buddhist philosophical systems.
For the Tibetan sdug pa there would be two entries: one with a number of definitions all expressing the term’s positive meanings (pretty, nice, pleasant, etc.) and one with definitions expressing its negative meanings (suffering, bad, etc.). Two separate dictionary entries must be made for sdug pa because the word’s divergent meanings are not obviously related to each other.
If a dictionary user did a search for sdug pa, both entries would appear. Then the user could click to see more information on either of them to determine which is the one she is looking for.
As a final note, for most words in The THL Tibetan Dictionaries there will only be one entry with one main definition. But the other, more complicated cases will certainly come up, making it important that everyone is aware of and adheres to the policies outlined here.
Within a term entry there are many possibilities for the kinds of definitions that can be entered. There can be:
- just a basic definition, or
- a basic definition followed by a series of sub-definitions (which can have sub-definitions of their own), or
- an overarching definition followed by a series of sub-definitions that refine what’s described in the overarching definition, or
- no main or overarching definition but a series of sub-definitions that are all basically equal in importance.
Which configuration is most appropriate depends on the nature of the term. We are currently (as of January, 2008) working on a function that will allow an editor to move a definition “up” or “down” in the hierarchy, but until this is implemented, we ask editors to follow the following guidelines:
If you are reasonably sure that there is only one meaning for a term, or if you can postulate a good overarching definition (to be followed by more specific sub-definitions), put that in as the definition. If you are not sure, put your definition in as a sub-definition, the process for which will be described below. If you know a word has complex meanings or a complex history, but are not sure where the definition you are considering entering should fit into the bigger picture, try doing some research in other dictionaries (the Bod rgya tshig mdzod chen mo is the most reliable) to see what other meanings the word may have. If after that you are still not sure, take the more conservative option and make it a sub-definition.
If you create a definition that you later realize should have been a sub-definition, or a sub-definition that should have been a definition, you will have to manually cut and paste all the data to move it to its correct place within the entry. Once the automated moving feature has been implemented this will no longer be an issue.
If there is ever any question whether there should be a single term entry or multiple ones, or how the definitions and sub-definitions within an entry should be organized, please please contact us at , and we will help you determine where the information should go.
Note that when creating a head-term with multiple sub-definitions, each sub-definition will have its own “term” field (located in its “pencil” icon). When you initially create a sub-definition, the “term” field of the sub-definition is automatically filled in with the main head term. However, if you later edit the main head-term, the value in the “term” field of the sub-definitions will not change. Thus if you edit a head-term, you will need to also go into each sub-definition and alter the “term” fields there.
A crucial detail in making new term entries is that you put a shad after the head term. There should be no tsheg - just a shad. The only exceptions to this rule are if the term ends with a ga (ག), in which case there should be neither a shad not a tsheg; and if the term ends with a nga (ང), in which case there should be a tsheg and a shad (ex: ཐང་།).
Thus properly formatted terms would be as follows:
Ultimately we want to have as many term entries in the dictionary as possible. This makes a fuller dictionary that will more often yield a hit when a user is searching for a term. Thus an editor should create entries for both abbreviated and non-abbreviated terms. For example, one should make entries for both the abbreviated rdzogs chen and the unabbreviated rdzogs pa chen po, for both byang chub sems pa and byang sems. However, in these and many cases like them, we will only make a full dictionary entry under the non-abbreviated form of the term. Thus under rdzogs pa chen po there will be listed a number of definitions, pronunciations, literary passages, etc. Under rdzogs chen there would only be a pronunciation, literary passages, and a link to the expanded form, rdzogs pa chen po (created through the Add Related Terms function). Although this may seem somewhat counter-intuitive, since rdzogs chen is more commonly used than rdzogs pa chen po, if we stick to the policy of always putting the definitions under the fully expanded term, this will eliminate the need to enter all information twice, and it will allow both users and developers to always know where to find the information they are looking for. See below under Add Related Terms for more information on how to connect to abbreviated and non-abbreviated forms of a term.
One principle we will adhere to in making entries for verbs is to always include the appropriate auxiliary particle ba or pa. The rule for determining which particle should be used with a verb form is as follows: The verb is followed by pa unless it is open, with no suffix (ex: blta, bsti) or ends in ra, la, or nga (ex: gtar, gtul, gtang), in which cases it’s followed by ba. (Note that when a verb ends with a nga and has the second suffix sa (ex: ltungs) or da, it is followed by pa.) If there is any doubt about which particle to use, consult the tshig mdzod chen mo, which adheres to these rules for the most part.
The general policy to be followed when making dictionary entries for verbs is to always make the main entry under the verb’s present tense form. Thus in the entry for the verb 'gro ba (separate from the entry for 'gro ba as a noun) there will be its definitions, pronunciation, literary quotations, related terms, etc. Under phyin pa or song there will pronunciations, literary quotations, etc., but the definition field will be left blank. (These may have sub-definitions that discuss particular uses of phyin pa and song, including as verbal auxiliaries, but at the top definition level, stating their relationship to the present tense form is sufficient.) These different forms of the verb will then be linked with the Related Term feature. It is somewhat counter-intuitive, but if multiple forms of a verb (ex: its past and future forms) are spelled the same way, a separate entry must be made for each regardless. Thus for 'gro bo (to go) there will be an entry for its present tense form 'gro ba and one for its future form, which is also 'gro ba.
When linking different entries for different tenses of a verb, they must be linked to one another using the Add Related Terms feature (accessed under the puzzle piece/relationships icon, described below). You must always link to the past, future, or imperative form from the present form of the verb.
The definition for the present tense form of a verb should always begin with “To” and end with a period.
To give a full example of how this would work, in the definition field for the verb 'gro ba, a definition of the verb is given. In the information regarding its grammatical function, it is identified as the present tense of a volitional (tha dad pa) verb. It has sub-definitions that address 'gro as it is used as a verbal auxiliary. The main entry is linked to the other tenses of the verb - phyin pa (past), 'gro ba (future), and song (imperative) - through the Related Terms function. Under the entry for song (with the definition field left blank) there are listed a number of sub-definitions that explicate song’s other uses - as a verbal auxiliary indicating past tense, as a past form of 'gro ba in Eastern dialects, and so on.
There would also be separate dictionary entries for 'gro ba as a noun meaning “transmigrators” and as the future form of the verb.
Sub-definitions are added by clicking the Puzzle Piece ("Edit Relationships") icon next to a definition and choosing “Add Sub Definition” from the dropdown list. You can add a sub-sub-definition to a sub-definition by clicking the Edit Relationships icon next to the sub-definition.
To delete a whole term from the dictionary click the X icon next to the term at the top of the screen. Clicking the X above a sub-definition deletes that entire sub-definition. Elsewhere X icons delete only the element or field directly next to them.
Our most basic principle is that definitions should always begin with a capital letter and end with a period. In composing a definition, the first words should be a clause rather than a sentence, should provide the basic abstract meaning in essence, and should be terminated by a period. Additional detail should be written out in full sentences. Definitions should never exceed a paragraph in length. While we are interested in lengthier definitions than typically found in dictionaries, the dictionary must maintain brevity to fulfill its basic function of analyzing terminology, or words, not the objects to which the words point. If you have more to say, then compose a topical essay and contribute it to The THL Encyclopedia. That essay can then be linked to from the corresponding dictionary entry, so that users will be aware of the more extensive resources available on that term.
Reference to a source (primary or secondary) should never be made within a definition. References (such as, “In The Tibetans Matthew Kapstein says…”) should always be put in the Metadata for a dictionary element. Or, if it is a particularly good explanation, or one that’s somewhat dubious but interesting to note, it should be made into a literary quotation (through the Adding Relationships function).
In all definitions, try to be clear about just what you know and don’t know. Don’t speak in confident, general terms if in fact you are uncertain. In addition, if you know anything about how common or uncommon a term’s meaning is, say so! If you are uncertain, say so!
If you cite a Tibetan word inside a definition, use the proper format described in the section Text Formatting.
For a compound verb with a noun and verb like “mthu gtong ba”, you would give a definition like “To cast spells…” Entries for “mthu” and “gtong ba” will be made separately. In the entry for “mthu gtong ba,” you would provide a link to the present tense of the verb (gtong ba); you do not need to make separate entries for the tenses of the entire compound mthu gtong ba.
The following provides examples of first-lines, and in some cases follow-up comments, for different types of terms:
A standard word: Entry for mdzo: “The cross-bred offspring of a bull and a <tw>'bri</tw> (a female “yak”), or a <tw>g.yag</tw> and a cow.” (For directions on how to format Tibetan words when used in the context of an English sentence, see below under Text Formatting.)
Words easily defined with a translation equivalent: Entry for rgya mtsho: “ocean” (translation equivalents are entered lowercase, with no punctuation)
Proper names in general: Entry for rgya mtsho, listed as a sub-definition under rgya mtsho’s meaning as “ocean”: “A common personal name for Tibetan men. It can be used by itself, or often occurs as the second two syllables of a four syllable name, such as Jampel Gyatso ('jam dpal rgya mtsho).” In addition, if you know the geo-cultural regions in which the name is typically used, then specify that. In addition, if you know the name is typically an ordination name, or a named used in a specific religious sect, and so forth - say so. Be sure to fully define the grammatical function for proper nouns: there are choices for personal names, place names, and text names.
Proper names of a specific person: Entry for "bsod nams rgya mtsho": “A Drigung Kagyü monk famed for his treatises on tantric rituals (1654-1731). Sonam Gyatso…” Note that personal names should have the grammatical function fully defined as “noun - proper noun - personal name.”
Place names: Places are kept track of in the separate Place Dictionary. Thus the entry of place names should be done in that context. In that dictionary, the form of the opening line should be similar, e.g. “Based in the Lhasa valley, one of the most important of Geluk (dge lugs) monasteries.”
Text Titles: Text titles are kept track of in our bibliographical repositories. Thus the description of text titles is drawn from the summary description of the text, if one is available. The form of the opening line should be similar, e.g. “A major study of the Yogācāra philosophical system from a Nyingma perspective.”
Poetic expression: Entry for rgya mtsho, listed as a sub-definition under rgya mtsho’s meaning as “ocean”: “A poetic expression for the number four, based on the perception that an ocean contains within it the four primary colors - white, blue, red and yellow”. For this example, under the head term rgya mtsho there would be one definition (“Ocean.”) and two sub-definitions addressing its meanings as a personal name and as the number four. Another sub-definition may address its meaning as “vast” or “expansive.” These would not be separate term entries because they are all semantically related. Entry for dag byed: “ A poetic expression for water signifying its use to purify or clarify things of dirt and other contaminants.”
One of the most important features of The THL Tibetan Dictionaries is the ability to add bibliographical references to any of the main elements of a definition. Editors can document the sources on which their definitions are based, and can also attach full citations to any of the other elements in an entry: literary quotations, etymologies, translation equivalents, and so forth.
Bibliographic references are made by first creating Metadata for the element of the definition that one is working with. Once the Metadata has been created, a “Source” can be added to the Metadata; the information you put in this “Source” field will be used to generate a bibliographical reference that will display to the end user of the dictionary. See the instructions below for adding a “Source”.
The THL Tibetan Dictionaries work with a separate bibliographic database that is outside of the Dictionaries (currently the Scout Portal Toolkit ). Every “Source” referred to in the Dictionaries will first need to be entered into this database; once entered, each source will have a unique reference ID that refers to it (its “SPT number”). While using the Scout Portal Toolkit the reference ID for that source is the number at the end of the URL for its entry in the database.
As a dictionary editor, when you want to specify a source in your dictionary entry, you will only need to fill in the SPT number (by itself, with no additional formatting) in the “Source” pane, and most of the other bibliographical data will then be supplied automatically, thus making the process of citing things relatively simple. Other information like the page number of the reference must be entered by the dictionary editor manually. The Scout Portal Toolkit bibliographic database is being managed by Bill McGrath, who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you need to make a reference to a source that is not yet in the database, email Bill and he will add it for you.
See below for more information on using the “Source” field.
Quotation marks and apostrophes should be “smart quotes” (that is, the curvy single and double quotes, such as “ ” ‘ ’) rather than straight single and double quotes (" ') for all text except when using Wylie, and when making tags around Tibetan words. When typing with the Wylie transliteration scheme, use a straight single quote (') to represent the letter འ (a chung). When typing on an internet browser, smart quotes do not appear automatically, so it is best to type definitions in a word processor (like Microsoft Word) first, then carefully paste them into the dictionary interface. In general, it is fine to paste material created in MS Word into the dictionary; in some programs, doing this will cause unwanted markup or formatting to be added, but this is not the case with the Dictionaries.
Text given in Wylie should not be capitalized (even if it is a proper noun or if it comes at the beginning of a sentence) unless the letter in question is representing a long vowel (ex: nA ro pa), a retroflex or otherwise uncommon letter (ex: maN+Dal). For more information, see the full explanation of the Extended Wylie Transliteration scheme.
When giving italic words that are in parentheses, be careful not to italicize the parentheses themselves. Thus you would enter: (<i>pramāṇa</i>), not <i>(pramāṇa)</i>.
In the body of any non-Tibetan text (for example, while writing a definition in English), all Tibetan words used should be entered in a specific format. The term should be given in Extended Wylie Transliteration. It should not be followed by a tsek - represented in Wylie by a single blank space ( ), and it should not be followed by a shad - represented in Wylie by a slash (/). The term should have html tags before and after it, which are as follows:
- For common nouns, verbs, or most parts of speech, “Tibetan word” tags, <span class="tw"> and </span>, should be used before and after the term.
- For text titles, the tags used should be <span class="tt"> and </span> (for “Tibetan text”).
- For proper names of people, it is <span class="tp"> and </span> (for “Tibetan personal name”). Deities will also be marked with this tag.
- Names of places, regions, monasteries, rivers, mountains, etc., are tagged with <span class="tf"> and </span> (for “Tibetan feature name”).
For example, in the definition for mdzo, one might enter:
- The cross-bred offspring of a bull and a <span class="tw">'bri</span> (a female “yak”), or a <span class="tw">g.yag</span> and a cow.
Under an entry about gtsang smyon he ru ka, one might enter:
- Author of <span class="tt">mi la ras pa'i rnam thar</span> …
Note that all terms should be entered following the THL standards for Extended Wylie. In particular, there are no dashes between syllables, and the first letters of names, titles, and so forth are not capitalized (because capitalizing a letter gives it a particular meaning, such as indicating that it is a retroflex).
Also note that there is no space between the end of a word and the beginning of the angle-bracket for the concluding tag. (We are not including a concluding space, for instance, to represent a tsheg.)
Also note that in your tags, the quotation marks need to be “straight quotes” rather than “curly quotes.” That is, "tw" is correct, but “tw” (surrounded by curly quotes) will not work.
We will also be including tags around Tibetan terms in literary quotations; if an author uses proper Wylie transliteration in a passage that is quoted in the dictionary, we will put tags around those terms.
Personal names, place names, and text titles written in English (or other languages like Sanskrit), should also be given tags. The tags are the same as for Tibetan words, but with the "t" (for "Tibetan") removed. Thus:
- a personal name: <span class="p">David Snellgrove</span>
- a phoneticized personal name: <span class="p">Khedrup Jé</span>
- a place name: <span class="f">Charlottesville</span>
- a text title: <span class="t">Vimalaprabhā</span>
Note that this means that you do not need to italicize text titles; the tags will eventually perform the italicization automatically.
When writing out a pronunciation using THL Simplified Phonetics, or entering a Sanskrit or Chinese equivalent term, or anywhere else you might need to use special diacritical marks, the easiest way to do so is to type out the text you need in another program such as Microsoft Word, and cut and paste it into the dictionary. For example, using THL phonetics the pronunciation of “dkon mchog rgya mtsho” would be Könchok Gyatso. Be sure to type your diacritic marks using a Unicode font.
You may wonder why there are so many multimedia fields associated with elements throughout the dictionary. In time the dictionary will be connected to other THL databases, allowing editors to include pictures, audio files, and movie clips in their dictionary entries. For example, a picture of a yak could be displayed along with its definition. A video clip or audio file of a Tibetan explaining the etymology of rdzogs pa chen po could be attached to an etymology. A diagram showing exactly where in the mouth sounds are articulated could be added to a pronunciation. It isn’t expected that all of these fields will ever be used for every entry, but having them there offers flexibility for future developments.
The THL Tibetan Dictionaries also incorporate content from some pre-existing dictionaries that many users will be familiar with because they have been a part of the THL “Translation Tool.” Dictionaries made by Jeffrey Hopkins, Dan Martin, Ives Waldo, Jim Valby and others are all queried when you search for a term in The THL Tibetan Dictionaries. They are displayed at the bottom of the page under the heading “Other Dictionaries.” These can be edited just like entries created for The THL Tibetan Dictionaries. Although our goal is not to change the content of the “Other Dictionaries” entries, it is possible that there may be formatting errors resulting from the importation process that an editor would want to clean up.
Many of the fields in the dictionary are filled out by selecting an item from controlled vocabulary. In other words, you don't type in the text, but rather choose an item from a preset range of options. Examples include the means to specify the grammatical function, or the dialect, but there are many other fields that are filled in this way as well. The controlled vocabulary is maintained in the Knowledge Map application, which is a tool for building hierarchies, including the capacity to describe each category/level in the hierarchy. These controlled vocabulary can be changed online through using the Knowledge Map application, and if dictionary editors would like to propose a change, or apply for an account to directly create and maintain knowledge maps, please contact us at .
The means within the dictionary to choose from a given knowledge map is simple. You simply click on the relevant "select" button, and the relevant hierarchy will open up. You can explore the entire tree by clicking on the + buttons to expand a category to show its subcategories. When you find the relevant item, make sure its highlighted, and then click on the "select" button at the top. It is that simple. If later you want to change a value, just follow the exact same process, and the new value will be substituted for the previous value. If you want to delete an item, instead of selecting a new item, on the main editorial button you will find a red X next to the value - use that delete button to delete the item altogether.
There are two basic ways to edit an entry: (1) creating a new entry by using the “New” link on the panel of links located on the right of any Dictionaries screen, and (2) editing an existing term by using the “Edit” tab on the panel of links. Both of these are described below.
To create a new entry, use the “New” link on the panel of links that is on the right of the screen. This takes you to the editorial interface, and displays a blank form for your new entry.
At the top of this blank form, it says “Click to modify new term” in large font; this is where you type in the term itself. The term should always be entered in proper Tibetan using a Unicode font, followed by a shad, tsheg, nothing, or a tsheg and a shad, depending on what is appropriate given the last letter of the term. Further explanation of this is given above. After entering the term, click “OK” or hit enter to add your new term to the database, or click “Cancel” to discard it.
Once you have entered the term, you can then fill in the transcription, transliteration, and definition. To add any other elements to the definition (pronunciations, literary quotations, example sentences, and so forth), you use the Pencil (“Edit”) icon and the Puzzle Piece (“Edit Relationships”) icon, which are described below.
NOTE: If a term appears in the "other dictionaries," then it also has a blank field in the THL Dictionaries. Because the "other dictionaries" have so many entries, it is likely that any term you want to enter is already in the dictionary. Thus when creating new terms, you should first search for that term in the dictionary, and if there is a blank entry already in existence, enter your definition in that blank entry. This will prevent double entries from accumulating in the dictionary.
To edit an existing entry, use the “Edit” link on the panel of links that is on the right of the screen. This brings you to a screen where you can search for existing entries. You can search with or without a final tseg or shad; the search engine ignores these characters at the end of a term. (Nevertheless, it is essential that you are careful to use the proper tseg or shad when creating a new term, as explained in this manual under Formatting of Head Terms.)
On the editorial search page, you can also search for changes made by a particular editor. If you select an editor in the "specify editor" list, and then click "find recent changes," this will search for all activity in Definitions, Literary Quotations, Oral Quotations, Model Sentences, and Etymologies, and provides a list sorted by the last updated date stamp. Note that this search actually finds all changes by a particular editor; "find recent changes" only means that the list is sorted to show the most recent changes first.
After you have found your term, click “Edit” next to the term, and this will take you to the editorial interface for that term. (Clicking “Show” next to the term displays the term as it would appear to the public user, and does not allow editing.)
While editing an existing term, the interface is exactly the same as when you are creating a new one.
Once you are in the editorial interface, you will notice five icons, which are used throughout the dictionary. These are:
Person (“Contributors”) Icon: The Person icon allows you to view the history of the element of the dictionary entry it is next to. For example, if you click the Person icon next to a definition, it will show you all the editors who have contributed to that definition - the person who created it and all who have modified it since then.
Pencil (“Edit”) Icon: By clicking the Pencil icon, the information associated with an element of a term entry (a definition, an etymology, quotation, or anything else) can be accessed and edited. For instance, clicking the pencil icon next to a definition will give you a host of other fields containing information directly pertaining to that definition (such as its dialect, register of use, and so on). The fields can be edited by following the “Click to modify” link that appears next to them. (For more information on this icon, see Data Fields.)
Puzzle Piece (“Edit Relationships”) Icon: This icon allows you to add elements that relate to the data field that it appears next to. For instance, the Puzzle Piece icon next to the “Definition” field allows you to add literary passages, etymologies, sub-definitions, and so forth. When you click on a Puzzle Piece icon, a menu with “Edit Relationships” and “Cancel” appears. Putting the cursor over “Edit Relationships” will bring up a list of elements that can be added (different elements of an entry will have different possible relationships that can be added to them). An extensive description of these relationships and how they work is given below.
X (“Clear”) Icon: Depending on whether the X is next to a normal piece of information associated with something else or an autonomous relationship item, it will either completely delete the object in question or merely break the association with the element next to which it appears. The X at the top of the page next to the term itself will delete the entire entry.
Bubble (“Edit Field”) Icon: The speech bubble allows you to edit the information in the field directly next to it. Bubble icons allow for free-entry of text, i.e. they do not provide you with menus or selections to make. Clicking the bubble next to a definition, for example, allows you to type or edit the definition field that is next to the icon.
Clicking on the “Hierarchies” tab brings you to a screen called “Knowledge Maps.” This lists the names of fields that are used in the dictionary’s dropdown lists. Through the “Hierarchies” screen, you can change and edit the contents of those dropdown lists. If you are working on a definition that requires more details or options to be added to these hierarchies, contact us and we can add them. Alternatively, if you are doing extensive editorial work that requires multiple additions to the knowledge maps, we can update your editorial account so that you will have editing privileges in the “Hierarchies” section.
- If you roll over an area on the screen and it turns yellow, it can be edited. Just click and it will become a text field.
- When looking through search results, to see all the results on a single page, simply type the total number of items in the box between the words “Display” and “items” towards the top of the page.
- The THL Tibetan Dictionaries support Unicode text in all of its fields, so text in Tibetan, Chinese, or any language can be put anywhere.
- To clear a field generated by a dropdown list, simply select the blank selection. After closing the editing window, the field will revert back to its original, “Click to modify,” state.
Every primary element of a dictionary entry (definitions, etymologies, literary quotations, etc) will have a set of data fields automatically connected to it. These can be viewed and edited by clicking the Pencil (“Edit”) icon. For example, the fields accesed through the Pencil icon associated with a “Definition” field are:
- Level: Specifies whether the definition is a “head” definition, or a sub-definition; the field is filled in automatically, and typically will not need to be modified.
- Definition: Contains the actual definition (this same field can be modified from the “bubble” icon on the main editing screen).
- Language of Definition: Specifies what language the definition is written; the default value is “English.”
- Tibetan Dialect: If the definition is applicable to any particular Tibetan dialect, this can be specified by selecting a dialect from the available list.
- Grammatical Function: Gives the grammatical function of the term.
- Register: If the definition applies specifically to slang, honorific, etc., this can be noted here.
- Language Context: Specifies whether the definition applies to colloquial or literary usages, or both.
- Literary Genre: If this definition is particular to a certain literary genre, select it here. (In the future we would like to be able to choose multiple literary genres, but this is not yet possible.)
- Literary Period: If this definition is particular to a certain literary period, select it here.
- Thematic Classification: Provides a list of categories under which the term can be grouped. (In the future we would like to be able to choose multiple thematic classifications, but this is not yet possible.)
- Enumeration: If the term is part of an enumeration or well-known set, the number can be specified here. For example, under the definition for dug gsum (the three poisons), one would enter 3; or, under the definition for a term like grub thob chen po (mahāsiddha), if the definition discusses the mythic category of “84 Indian Mahāsiddhas,” you could enter 84 in this field.
- Encyclopedia Entry: This will be the place to enter a link to a pertinent entry in The THL Encyclopedia. (This is not currently operational.)
- Note: A place for the editor to add any extra note about the definition.
- Edit Multimedia Data: This contains a long list of fields related to multimedia data, which in the future will be used to integrate pictures, audio, and video into dictionary entries.
This is only one possible list of the fields that can be accessed and modified from the Pencil (“Edit”) icon. The fields within a Pencil icon will be relative to the type of data the icon is next to; for example, the Pencil icon next to an “Etymology” will contain fields relative to creating an etymology, while the Pencil icon next to a “Translation” will contain fields relative to creating a translation.
In addition to the data fields found in the Pencil icon, there are further elements that can be specified as relating to a given definition or sub-definition: pronunciation, etymology, literary and oral quotations, related terms, and so on. In attaching one of these elements it is important to keep in mind that it will also apply to any subsidiary definitions. Thus one must carefully consider whether a given element should be attached to the top-level definition of a term or to one of its sub-definitions. Most entries will only have a single definition, and in such cases this will not be an issue, but for more complicated entries this must be kept in mind.
Below is a list of the elements that can be added through the Puzzle Piece (“Edit Relationships”) icon.
Selecting “Add Sub Definition” brings up an “Editing Definition” panel, which lets you enter data for a sub-definition, just like you would for the main head-definition. The sub-definition will have its own Pencil and Puzzle Piece icons, so you can add elements to it just as with a head-definition. Sub-definitions can also be added to other sub-definitions, forming a nested hierarchy of definitions.
The “Related Terms” function is a unique feature of The THL Tibetan Dictionaries. Very simply, this allows you to indicate a relationship between two terms. Once you have created a relation between two terms, the two become hotlinked to each other, allowing a dictionary user viewing the definition of one term to simply click and be taken directly to the entry for the other. (Note that when relating two terms, those two terms must already exist in The THL Tibetan Dictionaries.)
The way to create such a relation is by clicking the Puzzle Piece icon and choosing “Add Related Term” from the dropdown list. This will give you a list of options in a flyout list. From these you can select how the other term (the term other than the one you are currently editing) is related to the one being edited. For example, if I was editing the entry for chu, I would then select Puzzle Piece > Edit Relationships > Add Related Term > Register > Honorific Form. This would open a window in which I could do a search for chab (by clicking the Magnifying Glass icon) and then click “OK.” Once I’ve created the relation with chab, in the entry for chu it will say “honorific form chab.” At the same time, the dictionary will automatically add the relation to the entry for chab, so that it says “non-honorific form chu.”
To return to an example used above, rdzogs chen and rdzogs pa chen po could be related to one another with rdzogs chen being an “abbreviation” and rdzogs pa chen po being its “non-abbreviated form.” The term rdzogs pa chen po could also be related to rdzogs pa and chen po as its constituent parts.
Below are descriptions of the “Related Term” options. In all cases it must be remembered that when choosing the type of relation, you are looking for the type that describes the term you are about to link to, not the term you are currently editing.
Full synonym: Automatically creates reciprocal “Full synonym.” This works differently from the rest of our related term functions. It creates a “group” in which words of the same meaning can be put. An infinite number of terms can be put into such a group, unlike our other related term functions which deal with only two terms at a time. For example, in some texts on Buddhist logic, yod pa, shes bya, mi rtag pa, and dngos po are all fully synonymous with one another and can be used interchangeably. In order to reflect this in their definitions, one can relate them all as full synonyms of one another. Under the dictionary entry for yod pa, it will say “Full Synonyms: shes bya, mi rtag pa, dngos po.” Under the entry for shes bya, it will say “Full Synonyms: yod pa, mi rtag pa, dngos po.” And so on.
Two full-synonym groups can also be merged. For example, if yod pa and shes bya had been established as full synonyms of one another, and mi rtag pa and dngos po had been established as full synonyms of one another, and then one connected, for example, yod pa (from the first group) and dngos po (from the second group) as full synonyms, all four terms would then be in the same group, considered full synonyms of one another. The Metadata (if there is any) for the first and second groups would then get combined when the final grouping was created.
Note that when adding a “Source” to Related Terms or Synonyms, the “Source” is attached the relationship between the two terms, and will get displayed when looking at the entry for either term. So, when adding a “Note” within a “Source” in this context, be careful to mention specifically which term you are referring to in the “Note” field.
Partial synonym: Automatically creates reciprocal “Partial synonym.” This is for two terms that do not mean precisely the same thing, but are closely related in meaning.
Antonym: Automatically creates reciprocal “Antonym.” This is used if two terms are opposites, like yar and mar.
Literary correlate: Automatically creates reciprocal “Colloquial correlate.” This is used to designate the literary equivalent of a colloquial Tibetan term. For example, in spoken Central Tibetan, bu is used to mean “son.” Traditionally, sras has been used to mean the same thing in literary contexts. An editor may want to indicate this while creating a dictionary entry for bu or sras.
Colloquial correlate: Automatically creates reciprocal “Literary correlate.” See under “Literary correlate.” This is used when you are editing the more literary of the two terms and would like to link to its colloquial equivalent.
Dialectical correlate: Automatically creates reciprocal “Dialectical correlate.” This is used to relate two different terms from different Tibetan dialects that have the same meaning. For example, zhi mi (meaning “cat”) in Central Tibetan corresponds to li li in some Kham dialects.
Paired term: Automatically creates reciprocal “Paired term.” For two terms that are paired in a general, categorical way, or that seem to be used together often, like ra and lug. These two terms do not refer to the same thing, but they are often paired together. “Paired term” is also used as a catch-all to link terms that may be related in ways not specified by the other “Related Term” choices.
Register: This has four sub-selections: double honorific, high honorific, honorific, and humilific. You must always link to these other types of term from the plain, unmarked form of the term. For example, while editing chu, one would select “honorific,” then chab. Then in the entry for chu it would say: “honorific form chab”; and in the entry for chab it would say: “non-honorific form chu.” See Tournadre, The Manual for Standard Tibetan (in particular Appendix 3) for explanation of the different registers in Tibetan.
Conjugated form: This has three sub-selections: past tense, future tense, and imperative form. These are used to indicate the different tenses of a verb. Note that you must always link from the present tense form. For example, from the entry for 'gro ba (present tense), you would select “past tense,” then phyin pa. Then in the entry for 'gro ba it would say: “past tense phyin pa” and in the entry for phyin pa in will automatically be made to say: “present tense 'gro ba.” For more on how verbs are to be handled in the dictionary, see above.
Division: Automatically creates the reciprocal “Division of.” This is used when a term has internal divisions. This feature can be used for enumerations such as you find in a dictionary devoted to such lists (chos kyi rnam grangs); for example, it could be used in creating a definition of the “three bodies” (sku gsum), which has the divisions of chos sku, longs sku, and sprul sku. When editing the entry for sku gsum, one would select “Division,” then chos sku. Then one would select “Division,” and longs sku. Then one would select “Division,” then cho sku. The “division” feature can also be used when creating definitions for terms that have formalized divisions such as used in Buddhist philosophy; for example, it could be used in creating a definition of yod pa, which has the divisions of rtag pa and dngos po. Note that the “division” feature is not used for compounds, as compounds have their own “related term” feature (see below). A given word may relate to another term both as its “part of a compound” and “division,” in which case both types of related term would be used. There may be some cases where it is not perfectly clear if a “part of a compound” should also be a “division”; as such difficult cases are encountered, they should be added as examples to the Editorial Manual so as to constitute guidelines for future editors.
Division of: Automatically creates the reciprocal “Division.” This is used to specify the category of which the present term being edited is a division. When editing chos sku you would select “division of,” then sku gsum.
Containing compound: Automatically creates the reciprocal “Part of compound.” This is used when the term you are editing is part of a larger compound. For example, when editing chos you would select “compound,” then chos srid.
Part of a compound: Automatically creates the reciprocal “Containing compound.” This is used when the term you are editing is the compound itself and you want to relate it to the individual words that make it up. For example, when editing chos srid you would select “part of compound” and chos.
Abbreviation: Automatically creates the reciprocal “Non-abbreviated form.” Used when the term you are currently editing is a full, non-abbreviated form of a term. When editing 'phags pa'i bden pa bzhi, you would select “abbreviation,” then bden bzhi.
Non-abbreviated form: Automatically creates the reciprocal “Abbreviation.” Use this if the term you are editing is an abbreviated form, and you want to link to its non-abbreviated equivalent. When editing bden bzhi, you would select “non-abbreviated form,” then 'phags pa bden pa bzhi. Remember that definitions are written under the non-abbreviated form of a term, while abbreviated forms simply contain links to the full form.
Containing phrase: Automatically creates the reciprocal “Part of phrase.” Used if the term you are editing is part of a phrase that is also within the dictionary as a separate entry. Unlike a compound, which is a word in its own right but which consists of syllables with clearly discernible independent meaning, a phrase is combination of independent words. In practice, the line between compound and phrase may at times be unclear, so examples of such cases should be cited here with their resolution as a guideline for future editors. Example: sdig pa is part of the phrase sdig pa bshags pa.
Part of phrase: Automatically creates the reciprocal “Containing phrase.” Used if the term you are editing is a phrase and you want to point to its constituent words. Example: sdig pa bshags pa is a phrase and contains the parts sdig pa and bshags pa.
Poetic correlate: Automatically creates reciprocal “Non-poetic correlate.” Tibetan culture has a highly-developed poetic tradition in which multiple formalized expressions are understood by literati to signify a given item. For example, “lord of the jungle,” “the tawny one,” and so forth might all be poetic expressions for the more ordinary term “lion”. Thus the “Poetic correlate” function is used to specify a poetic expression for the standard term currently being edited.
Please note that, typically, poetic expressions will be “literary” in terms of language context, though not always. When providing translation equivalents, please be careful to translate as a noun if it is a poetic expression for a noun. For example, the following are poetic expressions for water (chu): eliminator of the vile (ngan sel), drink (btung bya), that which flows downward (thur 'gro), and purifier (dag byed).
Non-poetic correlate: Automatically creates reciprocal “Poetic correlate.” Use this when the term you are editing is a poetic expression and you want to specify the ordinary term that it signifies.
Gloss: Automatically creates reciprocal “Glossed term.” A gloss is a short definition used to clarify the meaning of something, mostly used in scholastic commentarial literature. Here you specify the term that is a gloss for the term you are editing. For example, if you were editing rdo rje, you would select “gloss,” then mi shigs pa (which is often given as a short-hand explanation of what rdo rjemeans).
Glossed term: Automatically creates reciprocal “Gloss.” Used if the term you are editing is a gloss for another term to which you want to point. For example, if you were editing mi shigs pa, you would select “glossed term,” then rdo rje.
A pronunciation should always be related to the top-level head definition, even if the head definition has been left empty (unless there is an instance of a word that is pronounced differently depending on its different sub-definitions). Specifying the pronunciation at the top-level definition will make that pronunciation relative to the overall head-term, rather than simply to one particular use of the head term.
For most dictionary entries the “pronunciation” will simply show a phonetic rendering of the term. Once you select Puzzle Piece > Add Pronunciation, you will have the ability to specify the type of phonetic rendering you are using. The choices are: (1) Audio, (2) IPA, (3) Other, (4) THL Phonetics. Every term should at least have THL phonetics, since that is the global standard for phonetic renderings we are promoting within the Dictionary. Note also that a pronunciation should be entered in lowercase, unless for some reason the phoneticization system you are using calls for capital letters.
If the pronunciation specified is a general Central Tibet rendering we prefer that it be marked as "Standard Tibetan" in terms of the Tibetan dialect specification.
For some terms, “pronunciation” can be much more complex, with the editor specifying multiple pronunciations across dialects and across history. For example, Chinese-Tibetan epigraphs may indicate that a Tibetan term was long ago pronounced differently from the way it is now. Or, for a term like sbra nag (black tent), the pronunciations “ba nag”, “ra nag” and “dra nag” can all be found in different Tibetan dialects. A new pronunciation must be added for each of these instances, with proper scholarly attribution (using “Source”) to support your data if possible.
Translations should be added directly to whatever they are translations of. For example, a definition or a sub-definition may be given in Tibetan, which means an English translation may be directly attached to that definition or sub-definition. An etymology may be given in another language, so a translation may need to be attached directly to that, and so on. Translations will most often be attached to literary and oral quotations.
After selecting Puzzle Piece > Edit Relationships > Translation, you will have the choice to search for an existing translation (in case you have already entered the translation you want in another dictionary entry), or you can create a new one. In creating a new translation, you can then specify the language in which your translation is written, and can make any notes you need in the “Notes” field.
There are three types of etymologies an editor can specify:
Basic syllabic etymology: This first gives a basic rendering of the meaning of each syllable separated by hyphens, and then explains how that meaning relates to the semantic usage of the term.
Example, for an etymology of the term thod rgal: Literally “skull-traverse” or “crest-traverse,” this syllabic meaning apparently indicates directly crossing the crest of a hill or mountain rather than the easier but more roundabout and gradual path of winding along the mountain stage-by-stage to gradually go through a pass. All of the various meanings of the term derive from that basic sense of directness vs. more gradual approaches.
Example, for an etymology of the term drag sngags: Literally “fierce-mantra” or “wrathful-mantra,” the first syllable indicates the type of mantra by naming the ritual function and intent to which it is put. In this case, fierce or wrathful signify its use in rituals that involve violence or coercion directed at others.
Creative etymology: This is used for a type of etymology popular with Tibetan authors, and which originated in India. A “creative etymology” gives creative explanations of a term’s linguistic roots, but is not based in the term’s actual linguistic history; rather it provides a highly interpretative explanation where each syllable of the word is used as a basis to load symbolic meaning into the term. The classical Indian presentation of creative etymologies is of three types: one in which letters have been added, one in which letters have been subtracted, and one in which letters have been transformed.
Historical etymology: this specifies the history of the term’s formation, explaining how it was a neologism coined to translate a Sanskrit term into Tibetan, or how it represents a phonetic transformation of a Chinese term, etc. Words from the Zhang Zhung language found in Tibetan literature should be marked as “Zhang Zhung” under historical etymology.
As always, an editor must make the effort to indicate the sources for all this information. It is this care that will lend The THL Tibetan Dictionaries the scholarliness and objectivity that will make them more useful and ensure their longevity.
By adding a new spelling an editor can note the different spellings a single term can have, in different dialects, contexts, time periods, or in certain texts. This is a good place to indicate systematic misspellings as well. One might indicate the archaic spelling myi for the term mi (person). Or one might add a new spelling to the term do ha to indicate that in his Life of gtsang smyon heruka, the author rgod-gtsang-ras-pa-sna-tshogs-rang-grol spells it mdo' ha.
Like pronunciations, spellings should be attached to the main head-definition (even if the head-definition is left blank); they should not be attached to sub-definitions, unless there is a reason that a particular spelling is associated with one particular use of the term.
The primary use of this will be to add to the dictionary direct quotations from Tibetan literature that show the contexts in which a term is used, giving a richer picture of its meaning to a user. Bibliographical information on all sources should be added through the metadata “Source” feature. A translation (if available) into English or any other language should be added through the “Translation” feature.
A second use of the “Literary Quotation” feature will be to incorporate direct quotations from secondary literature - usually in English - that explains a term. These too must be properly cited.
To give an example of both of these uses, for the term lam 'bras one might add a literary quotation that exemplifies how the term is used in a traditional Tibetan text. Then one might also add a literary quotation from one of Ronald Davidson's scholarly works, to show how he understands the term.
This is a place to transcribe an instance in which a term was used in natural speech by Tibetans. Like literary quotations, this adds color and depth to a dictionary entry. The reference for the source of the quotation will be added with in the metadata's “Source” field. In the future, editors will be able to add audio or video files through the “Multimedia Data” capabilities. For the time being, if you know of an audio or video file that contains the quotation, make a note of where it can be found in the “Note” field.
Here one might put a simple glossary-style substitute for a word without explaining it’s meaning. For example, under the sub-definitions for a term like thod rgal one might give the English translation equivalents “leap over” and “direct transcendence.” This is more than an etymology or identification of the parts of a term but suggests how one might actually translate it into another language (English, Chinese, Russian, etc.).
If the editor is using another scholar’s translation of a term, this should be properly cited in the metadata “Source” field. Thus in giving the translation equivalent “itinerary” for the term lam yig, the editors of Tibetan Literature: Studies in Genre who came up with this translation ought to be cited. This is important not only for the proper attribution of work, but also for understanding the history of a term, how it has been understood by different scholars, and so on.
The translation equivalent function can also be used to show the word in another language of which a Tibetan word is a direct translation. For example, one of the meanings for the Tibetan 'byung ba would have the translation equivalent of the Sanskrit bhūta, the term for which 'byung ba stands in many Sanskrit-to-Tibetan translations.
Note that a translation equivalent should be entered in lower case (unless it is a proper noun or you are citing someone else’s translation of the term and they have capitalized it), and should not have a period after it.
Here one can add a sentence that shows how a term might be used, but one that is fabricated by the editor or perhaps drawn from a language textbook, rather than one that was actually written or spoken by a Tibetan. An English (or any other language) translation can then be attached.
Metadata has three main uses:
- Metadata allows us to organize entries by what “project” they are part of. This is a loose grouping of terms based on whether they pertain to, for example, art or technology or Buddhist tantra. This is unrelated to the term’s thematic classification. It pertains to THL projects that extend well beyond the Dictionaries.
- Metadata allows an editor to specify the language of something if it cannot be done elsewhere.
- Most importantly, Metadata will be used to make citations that indicate the source for a piece of information in the dictionary. For example, if I were entering an etymology for the term lam 'bras, I would create Metadata for it. Then I would add a Source to that metadata in which I cite Ronald Davidson’s book Tibetan Renaissance, using that book’s unique Source ID and a page number, to indicate where I got the information from. It is important to include one’s sources in this way, even if not quoting directly from them.
To add a new source, first you need to add metadata to the element you are working with; to do this, use that element’s Puzzle Piece > Edit Relationships > Add Metadata. This brings up an “Editing Meta” pane; once you have filled in the fields there (if there are any you wish to fill in), click “Close.” Now, a “Meta” element will appear next to the element you are working with. Click on the Puzzle Piece icon for that new metadata, and go to Edit Relationships > New Source. This will bring up a pane in which you can add bibliographic information. There are four fields here that can be filled in; the rest will be generated automatically:
a. Source ID: The THL Tibetan Dictionaries work with a separate bibliographic database, the Scout Portal Toolkit . As a dictionary editor, when you want to make a bibliographic reference, you enter a reference number (“the SPT number”), and this generates the bibliographic reference for you. Enter the SPT number in this “Source ID” field. For more information on the SPT database, see the section on Bibliographic References.
b. Source Type: In most circumstances this will be imported from the bibliographical record. It should only be entered manually to specify a “personal communication” (which would be not be in the THL bibliography and hence would not have a source ID).
c. Page Number: Whenever giving page references for a source, do not put a period after the pages. Use a hyphen to indicate page ranges. Do not use “p” or “pp” or “page” before giving the page number. When citing a footnote, use “n.” after the page number and before the footnote number. If citing multiple footnotes, use “nn.” and separate the footnote numbers by commas (this follows the Chicago Manual of Style 17.21). Some examples of proper page number formatting are:
- 58 n. 21
- 66 nn. 26, 27
d. Source Note: This field can be used to enter any additional information relative to the source.
Finally, note that if you have multiple references for an element (for instance if you write a definition based on the tshig mdzod chen mo and on a secondary author) you can add multiple sources. Here you wouldn’t need to add another “metadata” field, but would just go to your existing metadata, and add a new source through the “Puzzle Piece” icon.
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