Category Archives: Dictionaries

The Oxford English Dictionary: crowdsourcing since 1857

r-OXFORD-ENGLISH-DICTIONARYcrowdsourcing since 1857
“The word crowdsourcing may be new, but the idea behind it is not, at least not in lexicography,” writes the Oxford Dictionary Blog. “In fact, the entry for crowdsourcing in Wikipedia (itself a stellar example of an effective crowdsourcing model), gives the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) as one of the earliest predecessors of today’s largely Internet-based crowdsourcing projects.

Much of the historical and lexical information contained in the OED is based on the evidence of millions of quotations collected from English texts through the dictionary’s Reading Programme. Through this programme, the OED recruits voluntary and paid readers to gather quotations that illustrate the usage of words.

The OED Reading Programme started in 1857, when volunteer readers began to collect quotations for the British Philological Society’s planned New English Dictionary. Two decades later, the dictionary’s new editor, James A. H. Murray, launched a broader Reading Programme by publishing an appeal for volunteer readers, not only in Britain, but also in America and the British Colonies. “Anyone can help,” Murray wrote in his 1879 appeal, and soon after, he began receiving thousands of quotations from hundreds of volunteers, most of whom were interested laypeople instead of language specialists.”

Read on here…

Learn Early Indo-European Languages Online

IEMap
Learn how to read Sanskrit, Hittite, Avestan, Old Persian, Classical Greek, Latin, Koine Greek, Gothic, Classical Armenian, Tocharian, Old Irish, Old English, Old Norse, Old Church Slavonic, Old French, Old Russian, Lithuanian, Latvian, and Albanian in ten lessons apiece.

From the Introduction to the Language Lessons by Jonathan Slocum and Winfred P. Lehmann:”Recent advances in determining the origin of western civilization and the settlement of Europe are based especially on findings in genetics, archeology and linguistics. The papers on the topic given at a conference that brought together eminent specialists in these fields under organization of the Banco Popolare di Milano have been published in Italian under the title Le radici prime dell’Europa. Gli intrecci genetici, linguistici, storici, edited by Gianluca Bocchi and Mauro Ceruti (Milan: Bruno Mondadori, 2001). While these three sciences all provide information on the settlement, only through linguistics can the people involved be identified. Yet linguistics dealing with the early period is least advanced of the three. Moreover, grammars published as introductions to the early languages are produced on the pattern of those designed for instruction of secondary school students of years past, who were expected to take eight years of Latin, six of Greek, and then proceed to the study of Sanskrit and other less widely studied languages like Old Slavic, Armenian, and Avestan. Under curricula of today, few scholars find such a course of study acceptable.

Moreover, the important ability with respect to these languages is that of reading texts, with or without the help of translations. The online introductions in Early Indo-European Online are designed to provide such ability. In this series, texts that in themselves are valuable for literary and historical as well as linguistic purposes are briefly introduced, glossed word-by-word, followed by grammatical descriptions, and accompanied by a complete glossary, a base-form dictionary, and an English meaning index. “

Early Indo-European Online

How good is your English vocabulary, really?

keyboard-english
Ghent University in Belgium has created an online, almost arcade-game-like test of word knowledge.

How many English words do you know? With this test you get a valid estimate of your English vocabulary size within 4 minutes and you help scientific research.

In this test you get 100 letter sequences, some of which are existing English words (American spelling) and some of which are made-up nonwords. Indicate for each letter sequence whether it is a word you know or not by pressing the F or J key.

Passing English of the Victorian era, a dictionary of heterodox English, slang and phrase

english victorian era
Passing English of the Victorian era, a dictionary of heterodox English, slang and phrase is complied and written by James Redding Ware, the pseudonym of Andrew Forrester the British writer who created one of the first female detectives in literary history in his book The Female Detective (1863). In this posthumously published volume Forrester turns his attention to the world of Victorian slang, in particular that found in the city of London.

You can get the book in various formats at Open Library here.

From the Preface:
HERE is a numerically weak collection of instances of ‘Passing English’. It may be hoped that there are errors on every page, and also that no entry is ‘quite too dull’. Thousands of words and phrases in existence in 1870 have drifted away, or changed their forms, or been absorbed, while as many have been added or are being added. ‘Passing English’ ripples from countless sources, forming a river of new language which has its tide and its ebb, while its current brings down new ideas and carries away those that have dribbled out of fashion. Not only is ‘Passing English’ general ; it is local ; often very seasonably local. Careless etymologists might hold that there are only four divisions of fugitive language in London west, east, north and south. But the variations are countless. Holborn knows little of Petty Italia behind Hatton Garden, and both these ignore Clerkenwell, which is equally foreign to Islington proper; in the South, Lambeth generally ignores the New Cut, and both look upon Southwark as linguistically out of bounds; while in Central London, Clare Market (disappearing with the nineteenth century) had, if it no longer has, a distinct fashion in words from its great and partially surviving rival through the centuries the world of Seven Dials, which is in St Giles’s St James’s being ractically in the next parish. In the East the confusion of languages is a world of ‘ variants ‘ there must be half-a-dozen of Anglo-Yiddish alone all, however, outgrown from the Hebrew stem. ‘Passing English’ belongs to all the classes, from the peerage class who have always adopted an imperfection in speech or frequency of phrase associated with the court, to the court of the lowest costermonger, who gives the fashion to his immediate entourage.

Some examples

Arsworm:
a little diminutive Fellow.

Blobber-lipp’d:
very thick, hanging down, or turning over.

Chounter:
to talk pertly, and (sometimes) angrily.

Dimber-Damber:
a Top-man or Prince among the Canting Crew.

Ebb-water:
when there’s but little Money in the Pocket.

Fustiluggs:
a Fulsom, Beastly, Nasty Woman.

Green-bag:
a Lawyer.

Hanktelo:
a silly Fellow, a meer Cods-head.

Itch-land:
Wales.

Jingle-brains:
a Maggot-pated Fellow.

Keaping Cully:
one that Maintains a Mistress, and parts with his Money very generously to her.

Loblolly:
any ill-cookt Mess.

Member-mug:
a Chamber-pot.

Napper of napps:
a Sheep-stealer.

Oliver’s skull:
a Chamber-pot.

Purse-proud:
haughty because Rich.

Queere Duke:
a poor decayed Gentleman; also a lean, thin, half Starved Fellow.

Rustygutts:
an old blunt Fellow.

Scrubado:
the Itch.

Top-heavy:
Drunk.

Urinal of the Planets:
Ireland … because of its frequent and great Rains.

Varlets:
Rogues, Rascals.

Word-pecker:
One that plays with Words.

Xantippe:
a Scold.

Yoak’d:
Married.

Zuche:
a wither’d or dry Stock or Stub of a Tree.

Mid-19th-Century Criminal Slang Ripe For Revival

rogues lexicon
Slate has a list of slang terms drawn from a book compiled by the first New York City Police Chief, George W. Matsell, in 1859. Vocabulum, or the Rogue’s Lexicon, which you can read in full text via the Internet Archive, includes an index of criminals’ slang with definitions, short stories written using the “language,” and appendices cataloging the specialized slang of gamblers, billiard-players, brokers, and pugilists.

The Language Wars

Why New Yorker writers and others keep pushing bogus controversies.

If you didn’t already know that euphonious dichotomies are usually phony dichotomies, you need only check out the latest round in the supposed clash between “prescriptivist” and “descriptivist” theories of language. This pseudo-controversy, a staple of literary magazines for decades, was ginned up again this month by The New Yorker, which has something of a history with the bogus battle.

Slate: “Fifty years ago, the literary critic Dwight Macdonald lambasted the Third Edition of Webster’s New International Dictionary for aiming to be “a recording instrument rather than … an authority” and insufficiently censuring such usages as “deprecate” for depreciate, “bored” for disinterested, and “imply” for infer. And in a recent issue, Joan Acocella, the magazine’s dance critic, fired a volley of grapeshot at the Fifth Edition of the American Heritage Dictionary and at a new history of the controversy by the journalist Henry Hitchings, The Language Wars. Acocella’s points were then reiterated this week in a post by Ryan Bloom on the magazine’s Page-Turner blog. The linguistic blogosphere, for its part, has been incredulous that The New Yorker published these “deeply confused” pieces. As Language Log put it, “Either the topic was not felt to be important enough to merit elementary editorial supervision, or there is no one at the magazine with any competence in the area involved.”

Read on at Slate.

Urban Dictionary TV


Learn slang and watch hilarious videos at the same time with urbandictionary.tv. A collaboration between VHX and Urban Dictionary.

Users can submit YouTube videos for specific definitions on urbandictionary.com, like adding related viral videos to Honey Badger Limit, or sharing their home-made examples of brofing.

UD.TV pulls all the videos submitted to Urban Dictionary and lets you watch and vote on your favorites.

How It Works

The site is built using the embeddable VHX video player, a simple and beautiful way to build fun video websites. It seamlessly plays videos from YouTube and Vimeo and is easy to customize and extend.

Check it out here.

Made by Aaron Peckham, Jamie Wilkinson and Casey Pugh.

UD.TV’s source code (just simple javascript, CSS and HTML) is available on GitHub.

How to organize a dictionary of made-up languages


IO9 reports that “Stephen Rogers has put together the ultimate guide to conlangs, or made-up languages, from Klingon and Elvish to Lojban and Esperanto. In his new book A Dictionary of Made-Up Languages, you can learn about Na’vi pronunciation and the word games that mathematicians play. It’s the perfect book for word geeks, as well as anybody who loves language and linguistics. IO9 has an excerpt from the introduction.

Duden Online is here

The Duden has been Germany’s dictionary numero uno for more than 130 years and it finally managed to get a proper website with everything you would expect from Duden. They got articles, browser plug-ins, word of the day and a phone service for urgent translation problems. Pretty good.

Leo’s little helpers – Integrating the dictionary in operating systems

Have you seen those useful little toolbars & bookmarklets for your Internet browser? Those might save you some time here and there.

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