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from the PALI edition of the Marshallese-English Dictionary
(in which references to the MRG have been updated)

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2. The Structure of an Entry

A minimal entry consists of a Marshallese headword and an English translation or definition. Many entries contain additional information. The various types of information that may be included and their order are as follows: (Technical terms used in the following discussion are followed by a reference to the section of the Marshallese Reference Grammar [abbreviated as MRG; Bender, Capelle, and Pagotto 2016] in which they are explained.)

  1. Headword. Each entry begins with a headword in italic type, and all entries are ordered according to the alphabetization of their headwords. One of the various words or forms of words included in an entry is selected as the headword of the entry. This is usually the word with the most basic form, one that does not have affixes or optional reduplications included in it. The intransitive forms of transitive verbs (MRG 3.3.2 beginning on page 152) are chosen as headwords, but where there are major differences between the intransitive and the transitive forms, a separate cross-entry is made with the transitive form as its headword. [Intransitives were referred to as infinitives in the MED.].

    ṃwijit (ṃijit). Transitive form of ṃwijiṃwij (ṃijṃij).
    kañ (kañ). Transitive form of ṃōñā (ṃegay).
    kiil (kiyil). Transitive form of kkiil (kkiyil).

    The same is true of the construct forms (MRG 3.2.6 on page 143) of some nouns.

    bawōn (bahwen). Construct form of bao (bahwew).
    kituon (kitiwen). Construct form of kōto (kẹtẹw).

    Further details concerning the selection of headwords are given in section 7, Finding Words in the Dictionary.

  2. Phonemic Transcription. The phonemic transcription (MRG page 18) of each headword is given immediately following the headword. The transcription is in boldface type and enclosed in parentheses, as in the examples above. The relation of the phonemic transcription to the spelling of the words as they appear as headwords is discussed in section 4 below, and in MRG 2.1–2.3.

  3. Dialect Information. When a word has different pronunciations in the Rālik and Ratak dialects, or when two completely different words are used for the same meaning in the two dialects, this information is given after the abbreviation "Dial." following the phonemic transcription. The abbreviations W and E are used for the Rālik and Ratak dialects, respectively.

    bae (bahyey). Dial. E only; see koba (kewbah). Bamboo.

    ellōk (yẹllẹk). Dial. W, E: ṃọle (ṃawley). Rabbitfish.

    ṃṃan (ṃṃan). Dial. W: eṃṃan (yeṃṃan), E: ṃōṃan (ṃeṃan). Good.

    The first example indicates that the word bae 'bamboo' is limited to the Ratak dialect, and that koba is used for 'bamboo' in the Rālik dialect but may also be used in the Ratak. The second example indicates that ellōk is used in the Rālik and ṃọle in the Ratak for a certain species of fish. The third example is a double consonant word (MRG 2.4.1 beginning on page 52) that is pronounced eṃṃan in the Rālik but ṃōṃan in the Ratak. (The selection of a headword for double consonant words that is not identical to either dialectal pronunciation is discussed in section 7 below.)

  4. Variant Pronunciations. When more than one pronunciation has been recorded for a headword, and when the pronunciations are not known to be especially connected with the geographic dialect areas, one pronunciation is arbitrarily chosen as the headword, and the others are listed following the phonemic transcription of the headword (or following the dialect information, if there is any).

    alikkar (halikkar). Also allikar (hallikar). Clear

    This example shows that there are two pronunciations of the word meaning 'clear'. It should be emphasized that the choice of the one as headword is arbitrary, and does not indicate that it is in any way more correct than the other, or that the other is less preferable.

  5. Status Information. When there is something special about the usage of a word that the reader of the dictionary should be made aware of, this is given following the phonemic transcription of the headword (or following any dialect or variant information). This is done by giving one of four words that best describes the special status of the word:
    Archaic.Such words are old words that are no longer generally used, and may not be known to all speakers, especially younger ones.
    Idiom. Such expressions are proverbs, sayings, or other phrases that have a special meaning beyond the literal meaning of each of the words.
    Slang. Such words are generally newer words that may call attention to themselves when used, and which may not be appropriate for more formal speaking or writing.
    Vulgar. Such words are avoided in conversation when any taboo relatives may be present. The words are themselves taboo in such situations. The second author takes full responsibility for their inclusion in the dictionary for the sake of completeness and because of their possible use for scientific purposes, such as the tracing of cognate words in various related languages.

  6. Etymological Information. Next in order in an entry, information may be given concerning the history of a word—where it comes from. Words that are known to have come from some other language are so indicated:

    jaajmi (jahajmiy). From Japn. sashimi. A food, raw fish.
    ṃaak (ṃahak). From Germ. Mark. Money.
    tiṃa (tiyṃah). From Engl. steamer. Ship.

    Words that do not come from other languages are sometimes accompanied by information concerning their origin within the Marshallese language.

    dapijbok (dapijbeq). From dapij (dapij) "hold", bok (beq) "sand", "to hold onto the sand".

    It is hoped that much more of this latter sort of information concerning the derivation of words within the language can be included in a future edition of the dictionary.

  7. Grammatical Information. Many entries include a numbered key that gives grammatical information for the various forms of the word included in the entry. The key consists of one or more of the Arabic numerals from 1 to 11, separated by commas. Some of the numbers may be followed by parentheses containing other forms of the word, or affixes to be added to it. The code meaning for each of the numbers used in the key is given in section 3.

  8. Definitions. English translations for the various forms of the word included within an entry are given next, in roman type. Marshallese words, words from other languages, and the scientific names of flora and fauna are italicized within the definitions.

  9. Example Sentences. Finally within an entry, one or more example sentences may be given in italic type, together with English translations in roman type. (Occasionally an example may be given that is not a complete sentence, but it has been punctuated as if it were a sentence for reasons having to do with its computer storage.) The example sentences are chosen to exemplify the relation between some of the forms indicated in the grammatical information and some of the English translations given as definitions. It is hoped that this part of the entries can also be enriched in a future edition.

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