Posted to the Ethnos Project by on August 13th, 2013

Notes on the current version:

“Approximate spelling” and “Consistent spelling”

For the Lakota word-search input you can choose between “Approximate spelling” and “Consistent spelling”. Each approach has certain advantages.

Approximate spelling

This feature enables you to type Lakota words without diacritics and use some of the older and simplified spelling systems. For instance, typing in tatanka will yield the entry tȟatȟáŋka, searching for najin will yield nážiŋ, typing in anagoptan will show the entry anáǧoptaŋ.
This option is useful for people who are not yet familiar with the consistent phonemic spelling based on the NLD orthography. But it can also be useful to those reading old texts, most of which use simplified non-phonemic spelling. For instance, if you see a word spelled as toka, the approximate spelling search will yield three entries: tȟóka ‘enemy’, tókȟa ‘something is happening’ and tȟoká ‘first’. Based on context you can then decide which of the three words is meant in the text.

The one disadvantage of the Approximate spelling search is that the search results can sometimes be too broad.  For instance if you type in “ka” the search will yield entries, ka-, ká, kȟá and k’á, so you will have to scroll down to find the desired entry.

Consistent spelling

With this feature ON the dictionary database will be searched only for the word matching your spelling. So if you type in káŋ the dictionary will display the entry káŋ ‘to be old’ and if you type in kȟáŋ the search will yield kȟáŋ ‘vein’. Typing in “toka” will yield no result as there is no such Lakota word when consistent spelling is used.

We recommend that this feature is turned ON by users who are already familiar with the NLD based spelling. The advantage is that the search results are exact so you will not have to scroll down and read through numerous entries which have no relation to your search. This feature is also particularly useful when you are trying to look up words from texts written in the consistent orthography.

Special character input

You can choose one of three options to type special Lakota characters into the search field:

A) Click on the letter-buttons (icons) displayed above the search field.
This is fully satisfactory if you want to look up just a few words at a time.

B) Use the NLDO integrated Virtual keyboard (KEYBOARD ON)
If you check this check-box your physical keyboard will be temporarily remapped to match the NLD-based standard Lakota keyboard. This is described here (link). The main advantage of this function is that it allows typing Lakota characters quickly and without the need to install anything on your computer. Note that the remapping of your keyboard will work only on the NLD-O webpage and that your keyboard will be unaffected by elsewhere.

C) Use your own Lakota keyboard
You can also type Lakota characters using your locally installed Lakota keyboard, such as the Lakota Keyboard and Font bundle or a keyboard designed with the MS Keyboard Creator. In this case leave the KEYBOARD ON checkbox unchecked.

Please note that if you want to look up words from older texts or use approximate spelling it is better to leave the KEYBOARD checkbox unchecked. This is because the Lakota keyboard layout will prevent you from typing the letter “j”.


When you have typed the first three letters of your needed Lakota word, a list of suggestions will appear below. Note that the suggestions are first selected from the 1000 most frequent words, and only after you type in more letters will you be given suggestions from the entire list of dictionary headwords.


This feature existed in the previous version of the NLD-O but we want to introduce it to the new users as it is of immense importance and help. One of the aspects of Lakota which can slow down beginners from reading texts is the complexity of verb conjugation. For instance one cannot find the word mawáni as a dictionary entry because it the 1st singular (‘I’) form of the verb máni. The lemmatizer makes it possible to find these conjugated forms, so if you look up walówaŋ, the search result will say that it is “The 1st singular form of lowáŋ”. The NLD-O lemmatizer currently recognizes all conjugation forms of the vast majority of Lakota verbs, reaching to around 500,000 word forms. We continue improving the algorithm to make it recognize more inflected word forms and we hope that Lakota language learners will make much use of this tool.


The content of the dictionary has been updated in two ways. A larger number of edits and corrections have been implemented and the dictionary has been expanded with 2247 new entries. The majority of the new entries represent words which have not been previously documented in a Lakota dictionary, a few of the new entries are attestations of entries from older dictionaries.

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