R. Marinelli, L. Cignoni

National Research Council, Institute for Computational Linguistics (ILC) (ITALY)
This paper describes a research project aimed at enhancing the terminological database Mariterm available at the Institute for Computational Linguistics (ILC) of the National Research Council (CNR) in Pisa with a set of idiomatic expressions. The database already contains semantic information for an approximate 3500 lemmas belonging to the maritime knowledge field and, in particular, to the two sub-domains of maritime navigation and transport. The terms included in the database are clustered into approximately 2500 synsets, which are sets of one or more synonyms, for example imbarcazione, natante (vessel), or affondare, naufragare (to sink), etc. Each Italian synset is linked to other terms (or synsets) by means of semantic “internal relations” of the hierarchical-vertical type (or “is-a” relations) and horizontal type (role, means, purpose, etc. relations), on the basis of the EuroWordNet/ItalWordNet model. The conceptual structure of the database also provides “equivalence relations”, which connect the Italian terms to the equivalent synonyms (or near synonyms) in English, included in the Princeton database WordNet. Besides the translation of each Italian term into English, a definition has been provided for each word in the two languages.

We relate on i) the methodology designed to enhance the database with a set of idiomatic expressions (almost 200) pertinent to the maritime field in the two languages, in keeping with the conceptual model of the database; ii) the enrichment of the lexical resource with explanations of the origins of the most common expressions, for example "avere il sopravvento", "perdere la bussola", "andare a gonfie vele in Italian", and swing the lead, between the devil and the deep blue sea, learn the ropes in English, also attractive for those who are interested in how maritime language has developed; iii) the similarities and differences in meaning and usage of some idiomatic expressions in the two languages, also using Italian and English corpora as references; iv) the possibility of using a linguistic resource of this type - managed by a tool which provides an appealing visualization of the terms and their connections to other terms, also for didactic purposes, in both public and private schools. The resource has been built for those students requiring an adequate knowledge of maritime terminology and wishing to embark on a seafaring career, as well as for contexts in which the knowledge of nautical expressions is essential, for example workers in yachting harbours and cruise ports, who need specific language when brought into contact with foreign tourists or peers from other countries. With the present enhancement the resource is now enriched with different elements which can be considered part of a more general “culture of the sea”, rich in historical references, and based on roots which we have found to be borderless and transnational.