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All the world exists to end up in a dictionary


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Julianne Nyhan
14 December 2010
All the world exists to end up in a dictionary

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All the world exists to end up in a dictionary

  1. 1. All the world exists to end up in a  dictionary  Dr Julianne Nyhan (
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  3. 3.  Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863-1944) Support of Tsar Nicholas II undertook survey of Russianempire 1909-1912 “He used a specialized camera to capture three black andwhite images in fairly quick succession, using red, green andblue filters, allowing them to later be recombined andprojected with filtered lanterns to show near true colorimages”.
  4. 4. Aims of todays talk:1. View the concept of the dictionary through the metaphorof the red, green and blue filter (i.e. dictionaries at the interface ofculture, humans, technology),2. My ultimate aim is to prompt you to reflect on the importance of suchfilters and how our understanding of them may influence the remediationof dictionaries in the digital world, or the way we might bring those filterstogether to reveal a new picture of the dictionary3. Overview of where we are in digital humanities and where we may begoing
  5. 5. Why?     Lexicographer ... a writer of dictionaries; a harmless drudge, that busies himself in tracing the original, and detailing the signification of words. Samuel Johnson, Dictionary of the English Language, J. & P. Knapton, London. 1775.Authoritarian and conservative tradition of dictionaries: “Ill check it in THE dictionary”Dictionaries: a bit niche, a bit boring and when the size and scale of the Web is considered, one might wonder whether dictionaries have had their day? 
  6. 6. A historical dictionary sets out Each words existence in different periods, places and genres The changes in the words meaning, use, form and spelling Its idiomatic phrases and habitual collocations Its external, or comparative, etymology as well as its internal derivation Its morphological and syntactic features. Its stylistic and statistical characteristics.R. Merkin, The historical/academic dictionary, R. K. K. Hartman (ed), Lexicography: practice and principles (London 1983) 123- 33: 123.
  7. 7. A light introduction: filter 1 on curious wordsblinn, blind (AS or ON blind. ….) Expld. as dead persons spittle, filament (nerve ?) of a dead persons eye: …eDIL, only in medieval Irish glossaries
  8. 8. A light introduction: filter 1 on curious wordséccruthu, m. (neg. of cruth) disfigurement, loss of beauty, freq. used of transformation through grief, rage or feareDIL,
  9. 9. Dictionaries are not only about words …Dictionaries make accessible successive snapshots of our world knowledgeKey place to study the technologies of the book and the tools and techniques that have been developed to order and make accessible such knowledge
  10. 10. Images of the dictionaryWhen I mention the word dictionary which one pops into your head?What form and format is it in?How is it ordered?
  11. 11. © The British Museum 2011.
  12. 12. Technologies of the bookToday absolute alphabetical order is predominantThis has not always been so, and as innocuous a technique as it may seem, throughout history its development and application appears to have interacted in complex ways with such factors as learning, philosophy, technology, economics and material culture.
  13. 13. Ordering structures in a nutshell 1 Absolute alphabetisation was known and used in ancient Ancient Greece, Galens Interpretation of the Hippocratic glosses is considered to be the earliest example of a work that displays absolute alphabetisation. It was not used in Latin lexicographical works compiled in antiquity and so the technique was lost to western Europe. In Roman Antiquity and the middle ages thematic organisation held sway. In some glossaries of the middle ages we see attempts to work it out again. Two issues have been especially highlighed by historians: technology and the prevailing world view
  14. 14. Ordering structures in a nutshell 2Alphabetisation may also have been offensive to the global scholastic view of things. It must have seemed a perverse, disjointed and ultimately meaningless way of ordering material to men who were interested in neat frames for the containing of all knowledge. Tom McArthur, Worlds of reference: lexicography, learning and language from the clay tablet to the computer (Cambridge 1986) 24-26.
  15. 15. Ordering structures in a nutshell 3 From the thirteenth century onwards absolute order becomes more prevalent. The two medieval Latin works that achieved absolute alphabetisation were completed quite close together: the first was the Summa of Guillelmus Brito published in 1272. This was closely followed by the Catholicon of Giovanni di Genoa (also referred to as Balbus and Johannes Januensis de Balbis). Daly and Daly state that the Catholicon was probably the first Latin dictionary to be printed with movable type and was printed on vellum at Mainz in 1460, probably by Gutenberg. Daly & Daly, Some techniques 237. However, absolute alphabetisation does not become wide spread until the advent of the printing press and does not become predominant until at least the sixteenth century.
  16. 16. Why is this relevant?If we are to build genres that are asleast as powerful as the old ones,we need to understand in their own terms what the makers of the codex genres were trying to do. WillardMcCarty, Guest Editorial,Interdisciplinary ScienceReviews 2005, Vol. 30, No. 2,97-101:98.
  17. 17. Dictionaries and Digital HumanitiesPrototype lexicon of medieval IrishTextGridDictionaries in the million book library
  18. 18. Skeletal XML Lexicon entry Skeletal XML Lexicon entry<entry id=“B124”> <entry id=“B124”><lemma></lemma> ➔ Headword <lemma></lemma> ➔ Headword<gramgrp pos="nn"></gramgrp>  Grammatical information <gramgrp pos="nn"></gramgrp>  Grammatical information<etym></etym>  Etymology <etym></etym>  Etymology<> <><syntax></syntax>  Syntax <syntax></syntax>  Syntax</> </><senses><sense n="1"></sense></senses>  Definitions <senses><sense n="1"></sense></senses>  Definitions<forms><> <forms><><form></form>  Word forms <form></form>  Word forms</></forms> </></forms></entry> </entry>
  19. 19. TextGridEstablish a modular Virtual Research Infrastructurefor text scientistsVirtual Research Environment (VRE) for collaborative workwith distributed resources  TextGridLab with tools and servicesBuild a Data GridVirtual archive for long-term data preservation  TextGridRep (repository)Interconnect Arts and Humanities scholars, ITprofessionals and information specialists on grid-based platform
  20. 20. More informationhttp://www.textgrid.deBeta version for download: demo:
  21. 21. Question
  22. 22. Dictionaries in automated systems Central pillars of e-Science platforms such as TextGrid Machine translation systems Named entity recognition Searching corpora of handwritten MSS Linked data
  23. 23. What to do with a million books? Herodotus has the Athenian sage Solon estimate the lifetime of a human being at c. 26,250 days A book a day: 30 generations to read through even a moderate collection of a million books and 10,000 years to cover the 10 million-or-so unique items in the Harvard Library system A completed Google Library, based on the collections of the current partners, would probably contain more than ten million items “Only machines can process or ‘read,’ much less analyze the written record of humanity”(Crane 2006b Crane, G. "What Do You Do with a Million Books." D-LibMagazine, 12:3 (2006), )
  24. 24. The current pictureDigital editions of historical dictionaries: to what extent are we rethinking and reimagining the importance of the dictionary, whether for the individual or for the incredible problems and opportunities of the multi-million work library?See especially for intro: Gregory Crane and Alison Jones 2006. Text, Information, Knowledge and the Evolving Record of Humanity. D-Lib Magazine 12:13.
  25. 25.   In conclusion"Tout, au monde, existe pour aboutir à un  livre" (Stéphane Mallarmé)   “All the world exists to end up in a  dictionary”