On Tue, Feb 03, 2004 at 02:22:14PM -0800, Jonathan Lipps wrote:
> I've used LaTex (specifically, MikTek) for a lot of symbolic logic problem
> sets and papers, and I like it a lot. However, I'm not sure why you would
> want to use it in writing a dictionary or if it would be at an advantage
> compared to a word processor.

I use LaTeX for the Ebisedian lexicon. There are many reasons for doing

1) The LaTeX input is plain text, which makes it easy for external,
   automated tools to process. E.g., I have a tool that parses the lexicon
   and checks that the correct word order is used (Ebisedian alphabetic
   ordering is non-trivial), and that there are no dangling
   cross-references, etc.. Eventually, I might even have an automatic
   reverse-lexicon generator that produces an English -> Ebisedian reverse
   lexicon. This would be extremely painful to do in, eg., Word.
   (Besides the fact that I wouldn't want to use Word for anything.)

2) LaTeX is about the only word-processing software I know of that can
   handle multiple custom-made diacritics on the same letter and still
   have pretty-looking output.

3) Because LaTeX input is plain text, it is easy to write a tool that will
   automatically convert Ebisedian ASCII orthography (a very ugly beast of
   which you can see samples below) into LaTeX commands that produce the
   right symbols, rather than get carpal tunnel syndrome from clicking on
   pull-down lists of symbols in a GUI-based word processor.

4) LaTeX allows the input file to be split into smaller chunks. This makes
   it easier to manage something like a lexicon, which can grow to
   enormous sizes. Currently, the Ebisedian lexicon is split into 36
   chunks, corresponding to the 36 letters of the Ebisedian alphabet,
   based on the initial letter of each word. Each file is under revision
   control, and I find it more useful to have a separate revision control
   for each letter in the lexicon than to have everything in one gigantic
   unmanageable file.

5) LaTeX has a powerful macro system that makes it trivial to add little
   bells and whistles like something that counts the number of entries in
   the lexicon and prints it in the appendix.

6) LaTeX has superior formatting above all other software I know of. You
   can see the results here:

   Or for the PostScript-enabled:

As an example of the superiority of LaTeX, consider the following text,
written in Ebisedian ASCII orthography:

	tww'ma esa'ni erosa'ni t3
		zota' katou' ke.
		zota' cutou' ce.
		zota' rotou' re.
		keve ta'ma ebu' n3 Ta'l3n di gh3'.
		my'nac3 katui' ke.
		my'nac3 cutui' ce.
		my'nac3 rotui' re.
		Ta'lin. kil3 icu'ro bis33'di.

The same text formatted by LaTeX can be seen here:

I'm sure you'll agree that the LaTeX version is much more pleasant to the
eye. I dare anyone to produce the same text in Word with the same or
better quality. ;-)


Today's society is one of specialization: as you grow, you learn more and
more about less and less. Eventually, you know everything about nothing.