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  1. Last 7 days
    1. Michael Macdonald amassed a vast collection of photographs of these texts and launched a digital Safaitic database, with the help of Laïla Nehmé, a French archeologist and one of the world’s leading experts on early Arabic inscriptions. “When we started working, Michael’s corpus was all on index cards,” Nehmé recalled. “With the database, you could search for sequences of words across the whole collection, and you could study them statistically. It worked beautifully.”

      Researcher Michael Macdonald created a card index database of safaitic inscriptions which he and French archaeologist Laïla Nehmé eventually morphed into a digital database which included a collection of photographs of the extant texts.

  2. Feb 2024
    1. Francis March also helped with the etymologies inWilliam Dwight Whitney’s Century Dictionary (1889–91) and IsaacFunk’s Standard Dictionary of the English Language (first volume publishedin 1893).
    2. in 1864, Webster’s Unabridged was published and it marked animportant moment in modern lexicography: no longer the idiosyncratic workof one man, this dictionary was the product of a collaborative team withNoah Porter as Chief Editor and the German scholar Carl A. F. Mahn asetymologist
    3. during theyears that Leslie Stephen contributed to the OED, he started his owncrowdsourced project, the Dictionary of National Biography (DNB). Just asMurray’s Dictionary traced the lives of thousands of words, Stephen’sdictionary traced the lives of thousands of people who made a notable impacton British history. Stephen invited 653 people to write 29,120 articles. Sixty-three volumes comprising 29,108 pages were published, the first volume in1885 and the last in 1900. The DNB is still going today, under the aegis ofOxford University Press, and it now covers the lives of 55,000 people.

      Presumably this dictionary also used a card index for collection? (check...)

    4. Readers were asked to choose words they considered ‘rare’ and the choice ofthese words was random – they were not guided by Murray on what wasneeded. This resulted in a dearth of quotations for common words whichultimately had to be found by Murray and his assistants. In the first part of theDictionary alone, ‘nearly the whole quotations for about, after, all, also, and,in Part I, and for any, as, in Part II, have had to be found by myself and myassistants’, he explained to the Philological Society. If he had his time again,he said that he would have directed his Readers differently, with theinstructions, ‘Take out quotations for all words that do not strike you as rare,peculiar, or peculiarly used.’
    5. By the time the OED project commenced, Europe already had majordictionaries under way or completed in German, French, Italian, Russian, andDutch, all of which were taking advantage of the new methodologies ofContinental philology. In Germany, the Brothers Grimm had begun theDeutsches Wörterbuch in 1838. In France, Émile Littré had begun theDictionnaire de la langue française in 1841 (a dictionary of post-1600French). In the Netherlands, Matthias de Vries had begun Woordenboek derNederlandsche Taal in 1852 (a dictionary of post-medieval Dutch).

      Oxford English Dictionary (1857 - )

    6. There was a dramatic wall of vastnumbers of slips, or ‘zettel’, hanging from long nails.

      The Grimmwelt Museum in Kassel, Germany is the home of some of the work of Grimm Brothers work on the Deutsches Wörterbuch which features a large wall of zettel or slips hanging from long nails.

      The slips hanging on nails sounds similar to Thomas Harrison's 1740's wooden cabinet of hanging slips used for excerpts and isn't far off from the organizational structure used by the subsequent Oxford English Dictionary's pigeonhole system of organization for their slip collection.

      see: https://hypothes.is/a/kVW3glq0EeyihQ834uN_Ig

    7. Jacob Grimm and his brother Wilhelm were also lexicographerswho created and edited the Deutsches Wörterbuch, the German equivalent ofthe OED. Or rather I should say, the OED is the English equivalent of theDeutsches Wörterbuch, because the German dictionary was started first (evenif it ended up being finished later because the Brothers Grimm died beforethe letter G, and it took another hundred years to complete).

      The Deutsches Wörterbuch (DWB) was begun in 1838 by brothers Jacob Grimm and Wilhelm Grimm who worked on it through the letter F prior to their deaths. The dictionary project was ended in 1961 after 123 years of work which resulted in 16 volumes. A further 17th source volume was released in 1971.

    8. By the time that section of the letter C was published for the OxfordEnglish Dictionary the only cunt that was listed by Murray was cunt-, a cross-reference to the prefixes cont-, count- with no mention whatsoever of thefemale body part. Fuck was also left out. Although these old words had beenin use since the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries respectively, they wouldhave to wait until the 1970s to be included in the OED. Murray did, however,include pudendum, a word derived from Latin for ‘that of which one ought tobe ashamed’, which he defined as ‘the privy parts, the external genital organs’with no reference to a woman or – God forbid – her vulva.

      1970s!

      the shame attached to pudendum has lasted culturally for a terrifically long time in the West.

    9. a fellowlexicographer and one of the Dictionary People, John Stephen Farmer, hadhis own legal drama. Farmer was writing a slang dictionary with WilliamHenley, and was struggling to publish the second volume (containing theletters C and F) of his work on grounds of obscenity. Farmer took hispublisher to court for breach of contract in 1891, and tried to convince a jurythat writing about obscene words in a dictionary did not make him personallyguilty of obscenity, but he lost the case and was ordered to pay costs.Eventually, he found fresh printers and avoided the Obscene Publications Actby arguing that his dictionary was published privately for subscribers only, notthe public, and the remarkable Slang and Its Analogues by Farmer and Henleywas published in seven volumes (from 1890 to 1904), with cunt and fuck andmany other words regarded as lewd on its pages. Farmer’s legal case and thepublic outcry that ensued was a clear deterrent for Murray.
    10. Ogilvie, Sarah. The Dictionary People: The Unsung Heroes Who Created the Oxford English Dictionary. 1st ed. New York: Knopf, 2023. https://amzn.to/3Un0sv9.

      Read from 2023-12-04 to 2024-02-01

      Annotation URL: urn:x-pdf:c95483c701c7fc677e89f2c44f98a30b

    1. https://pages.oup.com/ol/cus/1646173949115570121/submit-words-and-evidence-to-the-oed

      The modern day digital version of an OED contribution slip includes database fields for the following:

      • Submission type (new word or sense of a word; information about origin/etymology; other)
      • the word or phrase itself
      • the part of speech (noun, verb, adjective, other)
      • pronunciation (recording, IPA, rhyming words, etc.)
      • the definition or sense number as defined in the OED
      • quotation evidence with full text, and bibliographical references/links)
      • additional notes

      Only the first two fields are mandatory.

  3. Jan 2024
  4. Dec 2023
  5. Oct 2023
    1. Ogilvie uncovers the story of Anna Thorpe Wetherill, an anti-slavery activist who hid escaped enslaved people in her house in Philadelphia. Mrs Thorpe focused her efforts in the slips she sent to Oxford on recording the language of slavery, submitting definitions for ‘abhorrent’, ‘abolition’, ‘accursed’ and ‘attack’. Like Margaret Murray’s, her work ensured that the language of colonisation appeared in the dictionary not just as the lingua franca of jingoistic imperialism but shaded with the stories and the voices of the colonised.
  6. Sep 2023
    1. In 1807, he started writing a dictionary, which he called, boldly, An American Dictionary of the English Language. He wanted it to be comprehensive, authoritative. Think of that: a man sits down, aiming to capture his language whole.

      Johnson's dictionary is much like this article describes too.

      Perhaps we need more dictionaries with singular voices rather than dictionaries made by committee?

    2. John McPhee — one the great American writers of nonfiction, almost peerless as a prose stylist — once wrote an essay for the New Yorker about his process called “Draft #4.” He explains that for him, draft #4 is the draft after the painstaking labor of creation is done, when all that’s left is to punch up the language, to replace shopworn words and phrases with stuff that sings.

      I quite like the idea of this Draft #4 concept.

  7. Mar 2023
    1. “Normally, a dictionary just tells you what words mean – and of course we do that – but the scale of the project gives us the space and opportunity to say what we’re not sure of too,” he said. “This is important because it leaves the door open for further scholarship and it gives the reader choices rather than dictating to them what to think. The dictionary can be a catalyst for more research and this is what makes the dictionary a living thing.”

      We need more scholarship which leaves open thinking spaces for future scholars.

    1. University of Chicago. “Scholars Finish Dictionary of Ancient Egyptian Language.” Substack newsletter. ScienceBlog.com, September 19, 2012. https://scienceblog.com/56681/scholars-finish-dictionary-of-ancient-egyptian-language/.

    2. The advent of computer technology facilitated the assembly of the Demotic Dictionary, which unlike its older sister, the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary, could be organized electronically rather than on index cards.

      The Chicago Demotic Dictionary compiled by the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago was facilitated by computers compared with the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary which relied on index cards.

    1. Die so angelegten Zettel wurden lithographisch jeweils 40mal kopiert. Sodann wurde für jedes auf dem Zettel verzeichnete ägyptische Wort eine solche Kopie herangezogen, das jeweilige Wort in der Textabschrift rot unterstrichen, und die Lautfolge des Wortes, wie man sie damals zu kennen glaubte, in der gebräuchlichen ägyptologischen Umschrift in der rechten oberen Ecke des Zettels notiert. Die so vorbereiteten Zettel wurden dann alphabetisch und unter Trennung der Homonyme nach Wörtern in eigens für das Wör terbuch angefertigte Zettelkästen einsortiert. Dabei wurden von vornherein bestimmte Sondergruppen, die für das Wörterbuch selbst nur von begrenztem Interesse waren, neben dem lexikalischen Hauptalphabet separat gestellt, so vor allem die Namen von Personen, Königen, Göttern und Orten. Aus diesen Nebenprodukten der Verzettelung entstand z.B. Hermann Rankes maßgebliches Lexikon der ägyptischen Personennamen.

      Once made, the initial note excerpts were copied 40 times using a lithography process. Then each word in the original slip was underlined in red on respective copies to be filed away alphabetically. At the top right corner of each slip was written down the phonetic sound of the rubricated word's Egyptian transcription. Within the collection certain special words were also separated for the names of people, kings, gods, and places to allow for additional study.


      Talk about a problem of multiple storage!!

    2. Textmaterials war zunächst ein technisches Problem. Angelehnt an die Praxis des Thesaurus Linguae Latinae wurde ein ausgeklügeltes Verzettelungssystem entworfen. Die gesammelten Texte wurden dazu in Passagen von jeweils etwa 30 Wörtern Länge unterteilt und in hieroglyphischer Form auf Zettel im Postkartenformat geschrieben. Die Bezeichnung des verzettelten Texts und der aktuellen Textpassage wurden in der Kopfzeile notiert. Wo erforderlich, sind auch Notizen zum szenischen Kontext einer Inschrift beigefügt, und meistens wurde der Versuch gemacht, eine Übersetzung der Textpassage zu geben. Gerade die Lückenhaftigkeit dieser Übersetzungen zeigt deutlich, wie unsicher man sich damals noch an vielen Stellen sein mußte. Die gesamte primäre Textaufnahme hatte bis zu einem gewissen Grade vorläufigen Charakter und war nicht als abschließende Analyse der Textstelle, sondern als Ausgangspunkt eines vertiefenden, vergleichenden Studiums gedacht. Dass heute viele der damals problematischen Passagen keine Schwierigkeiten mehr machen, ist zuallererst ein Verdienst des Wörterbuches und belegt, wie dieses das philologische Textverständnis auf ein neues Niveau gehoben hat.

      The structure of the filing system for the Wörterbuch der ägyptischen Sprache was designed based on the work done for the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae started in 1894. Texts in the collection were roughly divided into passages of about 30 words and written in hieroglyphic form on postcard-sized slips of paper. The heading contained the designation of the text and the body included the texts' context (inscriptions, etc.) as well as a preliminary translation of the passage.

      These passages were then cross-referenced with other occurrences of the hieroglyphics to provide better progressive translations which ultimately appeared in the final manuscript. As a result some of the translations on the cards were incomplete as work proceeded and cross-comparisons of individual words were puzzled out.

      A slip showing a passage of text from the victory stele of Sesostris III at the Nubian fortress of Semna. The handwriting is that of project leader Adolf Erman, who had "already struggled with the text as a high school student".

    1. McCauley, Edward Y. “A Dictionary of the Egyptian Language.” Transactions of the American Philosophical Society 16, no. 1 (1883): 1–241. https://doi.org/10.2307/1005403.

      Prior to the Wörterbuch der ägyptischen Sprache, but nothing brilliant with respect to use of a zettelkasten to create.

    1. Altfranzösisches etymologisches Wörterbuch : AGATE

      I recall that the Oxford English Dictionary was also compiled using a slip box method of sorts, and more interestingly it was a group effort.

      Similarly Wordnik is using Hypothes.is to recreate these sorts of patterns for collecting words in context on digital cards.

      Many encyclopedias followed this pattern as did Adler's Syntopicon.

  8. Feb 2023
  9. Jan 2023
    1. Python dictionaries are another collection. Real word dictionaries are a good analogy to understand them: they contain a list of items, each item has a key and a value. In the traditional dictionary, the key is the word and the value is the explanation or description of it. In Python you can do something similar.

      Meaning of Dictionary according to Python Language

  10. Dec 2022
  11. Nov 2022
    1. Robert Amsler is a retired computational lexicology, computational linguist, information scientist. His P.D. was from UT-Austin in 1980. His primary work was in the area of understanding how machine-readable dictionaries could be used to create a taxonomy of dictionary word senses (which served as the motivation for the creation of WordNet) and in understanding how lexicon can be extracted from text corpora. He also invented a new technique in citation analysis that bears his name. His work is mentioned in Wikipedia articles on Machine-Readable dictionary, Computational lexicology, Bibliographic coupling, and Text mining. He currently lives in Vienna, VA and reads email at robert.amsler at utexas. edu. He is currenly interested in chronological studies of vocabulary, esp. computer terms.

      https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Robert-Amsler

      Apparently follow my blog. :)

      Makes me wonder how we might better process and semantically parse peoples' personal notes, particularly when they're atomic and cross-linked?

    1. Novelists Ernest Hemingway and Wil-liam Faulkner, for example, went backand forth about the virtues of simplic-ity in writing. Faulkner once criticizedHemingway, who he said “had nocourage, never been known to use aword that might send the reader to thedictionary.” “Poor Faulkner,” Heming-way responded, “Does he really thinkbig emotions come from big words?He thinks I don’t know the ten-dollarwords. I know them all right. But thereare older and simpler and better words,and those are the ones I use.”15

      15 A.E. Hotchner , PAPA heminGwAy 69-70 (1966) (quoting Hemingway).

  12. Oct 2022
    1. All materials available will be evaluated: Dictionaries, glossaries, and texts of a literary and non-literary nature. The slip box presently contains 1.5 million slips referring to 12 million references; the slips are supplemented by means of digital material.

      Dictionnaire étymologique de l’ancien français (DEAF) is a dictionary built out of a slip box containing 1.5 million slipswith over 12 million references.

  13. Apr 2022
    1. “After all there is no lack of repertories, Calepinos [i.e., dictionaries], treasuriesand commonplaces where minds feeble in invention or weak in knowledge cansupplement their indigence.”14
      1. Etienne Molinier, Mystère de la croix (1635), sigs. e1r–v as quoted in Bayley (1983), xx.

      Ambrogio Calepino's name was so tied to his Dictionarium (1503) that his surname was used by Etienne Molinier as a shorthand for the genre in 1635.

      Link to:

      Ambrogio Calepino’s Dictionarium of 1503 rapidly pushed the Catholicon off the market and performed even better, with one edition every two years on average (compared to one every four years for the Catholicon) until 1700. (p. 48, #)

    2. Pagination with Arabic numerals on both sides of a page was probably first used in a 1513 edition of Niccolò Perotti’s Cornucopiae. This commentary on Martial’s epigrams offered a wide- ranging commentary on every word that Martial used and was valued as the most sophis-ticated Latin dictionary of its time. But since the words were discussed in the order in which they appeared in Martial’s poems, a powerful alphabetical index was essential. The printer Aldus Manutius of Venice explained the novelty of using page numbers in his index: “a very copious index in which each word that is sought can most easily be found, since each half page throughout the whole work is numbered . . . with arithmetical numbers.”
    3. The dictionary remained the best selling of the reference genres. Ambrogio Calepino’s Dictio-narium of 1503 rapidly pushed the Catholicon off the market and performed even better, with one edition every two years on average (compared to one every four years for the Catholicon) until 1700.174
    4. Among reference works the Catho-licon, the carefully alphabetized large Latin dictionary composed in 1286, was the first to be printed, by Gutenberg in 1460 and again in 1469.
  14. Mar 2022
    1. According to Roger Millington, author of Crossword Puzzles: Their History and Their Cult, Mathers first encountered crossword puzzles in 1924, but he quickly grew bored with the “dictionary clues,” or clues that consist of or contain a synonym of the answer, that were popular in American crosswords. Instead, he favored so-called “cryptic clues” that required solvers to think laterally and creatively. Mathers didn’t invent cryptic clues, but he’s considered the first crossword setter to use them exclusively, abandoning dictionary clues altogether.

      Edward Powys Mathers (1892-1939) is considered to be the first crossword setter to abandon straightforward dictionary clues and exclusively use "cryptic clues" to make the puzzles harder and more interesting. He helped to popularize this form of crossword puzzle construction as the setter for The Observer, a British newspaper, between 1926 and his death in 1939.


      Cross reference: Roger Millington, Crossword Puzzles: Their History and Cult

  15. Feb 2022
    1. We need to getour thoughts on paper first and improve them there, where we canlook at them. Especially complex ideas are difficult to turn into alinear text in the head alone. If we try to please the critical readerinstantly, our workflow would come to a standstill. We tend to callextremely slow writers, who always try to write as if for print,perfectionists. Even though it sounds like praise for extremeprofessionalism, it is not: A real professional would wait until it wastime for proofreading, so he or she can focus on one thing at a time.While proofreading requires more focused attention, finding the rightwords during writing requires much more floating attention.

      Proofreading while rewriting, structuring, or doing the thinking or creative parts of writing is a form of bikeshedding. It is easy to focus on the small and picayune fixes when writing, but this distracts from the more important parts of the work which really need one's attention to be successful.

      Get your ideas down on paper and only afterwards work on proofreading at the end. Switching contexts from thinking and creativity to spelling, small bits of grammar, and typography can be taxing from the perspective of trying to multi-task.


      Link: Draft #4 and using Webster's 1913 dictionary for choosing better words/verbiage as a discrete step within the rewrite.


      Linked to above: Are there other dictionaries, thesauruses, books of quotations, or individual commonplace books, waste books that can serve as resources for finding better words, phrases, or phrasing when writing? Imagine searching through Thoreau's commonplace book for finding interesting turns of phrase. Naturally searching through one's own commonplace book is a great place to start, if you're saving those sorts of things, especially from fiction.

      Link this to Robin Sloan's AI talk and using artificial intelligence and corpuses of literature to generate writing.

  16. Jan 2022
  17. Nov 2021
  18. Aug 2021
  19. Jun 2021
    1. At best, thesauruses are mere rest stops in the search for the mot juste. Your destination is the dic-tionary.

      an apt definition of a thesaurus

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  20. Apr 2021
    1. I'm going to try uploading this to test it out on my Paperwhite.

      <small><cite class='h-cite via'> <span class='p-author h-card'>James Somers</span> in You’re probably using the wrong dictionary « the jsomers.net blog (<time class='dt-published'>04/03/2021 15:21:10</time>)</cite></small>

    1. There’s an amazing thing that happens when you start using the right dictionary. Knowing that it’s there for you, you start looking up more words, including words you already know. And you develop an affection for even those, the plainest most everyday words, because you see them treated with the same respect awarded to the rare ones, the high-sounding ones.

      The value of using the right dictionary.

    2. It’s a subtle difference, but that’s the whole point: English is an awfully subtle instrument. A dictionary that ignores these little shades is dangerous; in fact in those cases it’s worse than useless. It’s misleading, deflating. It divests those words of their worth and purpose.

      How to tell the value of a fine dictionary.

    3. A book where you can enter “sport” and end up with “a diversion of the field” — this is in fact the opposite of what I’d known a dictionary to be. This is a book that transmutes plain words into language that’s finer and more vivid and sometimes more rare. No wonder McPhee wrote with it by his side. No wonder he looked up words he knew, versus words he didn’t, in a ratio of “at least ninety-nine to one.”

      The real reason for using a dictionary.

  21. Jan 2019
  22. Jan 2017