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Efficient corpus development for lexicography: building the New Corpus for Ireland

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In a 12-month project we have developed a new, register-diverse, 55-million-word bilingual corpus—the New Corpus for Ireland (NCI)—to support the creation of a new English-to-Irish dictionary. The paper describes the strategies we employed, and the solutions to problems encountered. We believe we have a good model for corpus creation for lexicography, and others may find it useful as a blueprint. The corpus has two parts, one Irish, the other Hiberno-English (English as spoken in Ireland). We describe its design, collection and encoding.

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  1. The project is under the direction of Foras na Gaeilge, the government-funded body responsible for the promotion of the Irish language throughout the island of Ireland, whose statutory functions include the development of new dictionaries ( Full details of the NEID project can be found at The main contractor for setting up the project, including corpus preparation, is Lexicography MasterClass Ltd (

  2. Figures from the 2002 Census.

  3. Irish is taught throughout the school system, and about 30,000 students are educated in Irish-medium schools, ‘Gaelscoileanna’.

  4. See

  5. See

  6. While this is clearly also true of English worldwide, it is a lesser consideration for English produced in Ireland, where English is the mother tongue of an overwhelming majority of the population.

  7. See∼lcie/

  8. Since the work was done, the shingling algorithm (Broder, Glassman, Manasse, & Zweig, 1997) has become widely known as the leading tool for de-duplication.

  9. Constraint Grammar vislcg downloadable at

  10. For alternative work on Irish grammar checking see:


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In addition to the authors, the main corpus-development team comprised Steve Finch, Eamon Keegan, Eoghan Mac Aogáin, Mark McLauchlan, Lisa Nic Shea, Jo O’Donoghue, Paul Atkins, Pavel Rychly and Dan Xu, all of whom deserve our heartfelt gratitude. We would also like to thank Seosamh Ó Murchú, Foras na Gaeilge’s Project Manager for the NEID, for his supportive role; Josef van Genabith of Dublin City University, for arranging the student internships; Dónall Ó Riagáin for helpful advice at the corpus design stage; John Kirk of the Queen’s University, Belfast, for permission to use NICTS; and Anne O’Keefe and Fiona Farr of the University of Limerick, for permission to use the Limerick Corpus of Irish English.

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Correspondence to Adam Kilgarriff.

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Kilgarriff, A., Rundell, M. & Uí Dhonnchadha, E. Efficient corpus development for lexicography: building the New Corpus for Ireland. Lang Resources & Evaluation 40, 127–152 (2006).

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