The AusWeb series of World Wide Web Research Conferences.

Kirrkirr: Interactive Visualisation and Multimedia from a Structured Warlpiri Dictionary

Kevin Jansz, Department of Computer Science, University of Sydney, Australia.

Christopher Manning, Department of Linguistics, University of Sydney, Australia.

Nitin Indurkhya, School of Applied Science, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.


Kirrkirr, Java, Information Visualisation, Language Learning, Electronic Dictionaries, XML, XSL, Graph Layout, Warlpiri


While dictionaries on the web – and on other electronic media such as CD-ROMs – are now commonplace, there has been surprisingly little work to utilise the web’s capabilities for hypertext linking and multimedia to provide a richer visualisation of dictionary content. Existing electronic dictionaries still follow design principles more appropriate for paper dictionaries thereby limiting their scope and effectiveness. In this paper, we take a fundamentally different approach, designing an innovative environment that focuses on fully using the capabilities of the web. We describe Kirrkirr, a web-based application for interactive exploration of dictionaries. It currently targets Warlpiri (a Central Australian language). A key feature of our work is that we have converted the existing Warlpiri dictionary into a richly-structured XML version. The flexibility and hierarchical structure of XML is ideally suited for supporting rich but loosely structured content such as dictionaries, while web-based distribution is particularly attractive because dictionary maintenance can be done on a central server, and Java-based clients can access up-to-date dictionary information as needed. Kirrkirr provides a graph-based display of semantic links between words, which provides an engaging interface that can be explored, manipulated and customised interactively by the user (for example, a language learner).

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AusWeb99, the Fifth Australian World Wide Web Conference, Southern Cross University, PO Box 157, Lismore NSW 2480, Australia