Is text. End of post.Ok, it's not quite that simple. You probably want some sort of structured text, semantically marked up if possible. But at the end of the day, all you can really rely on is text. Why Spreadsheets SuckFirst, the format is proprietary and often inconsistent across even minor version changes. You will be in a world of hurt if you want to share your dictionary with anyone else.Second — and this is the biggest problem by far, assuming you're trying to make a naturalistic conlang — a real dictionary for a real language does not look like this:kətaŋsleepkətapbookkətəshangnail on the left little finger which interferes with one's needleworkkəwatreekəwahnoodlekəwecomputerkəweŋhardA few words between two languages might have (nearly) perfect overlap, and the early history of word in a conlang might start as a simple gloss, but a simple word-to-word matching is profoundly lying to you for a real language, and in a conlang signals a relex.A real dictionary ent…
After several years of slow work, I think Kílta is far enough along that I don't mind other people seeing the documentation: Kílta (PDF via Dropbox).
The thing I'm most pleased with this is that the dictionary is so large, and has so many examples. I've been on a pro-examples kick for quite a few years, but this is the first language I've worked on where nearly every word has an example sentence, often more than one. As of the day I write this post, Kílta has:
1158 headwords166 sub-headwords (idioms, light verb constructions, etc.)1592 definitions on the above1924 examples for everything
That said, there are still a handful of words I didn't bother to give examples to, but as I notice them and non-idiotic examples present themselves I'll add them. The main benefit to a good example is that it helps nail down the semantics more clearly. If I really cannot come up with an example that clarifies the meaning at least a little, I'm liable to skip it a bit, thoug…
One standard feature of my current grammars for new languages is a separate section after the dictionary where I focus on particular areas of interest or difficulty. For example, copulas and verbs of existence in Kílta have a few complications, so there's a section on those. This lets me limit cross-references in the dictionary definitions to something reasonable, while still being able to give a thorough overview later.
A subsection on conceptual metaphor (Conlangery Podcast #66) is now standard in my grammars. I've recently been working out the metaphor SALT IS VITALITY (for some reason, conceptual metaphors are often given in all-caps like this).
When I first thought about this metaphor, I spent a little while first thinking through the implications. In this instance, I already had an idiom involving salt that would interact a bit oddly with it —
Ches si tirat vuëtiso.
salt ACC give.1R-INF try-PFV They tried to bribe me. (lit., "they tied to give me salt")
I decided …