Old Engli.sh

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British Library Soon to Digitize its 1000th Manuscript

February 2014

The British Library has been producing state-of-the-art digitizations of its early manuscripts, many of them containing Anglo-Saxon texts. A newly released list reveals that the institution will soon have reason to celebrate a grand jubilee: it is about to digitize its one thousandth medieval manuscript.

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May 2014

Innovate, innovate, innovate – Advances at the DOE in 2013

The Dictionary of Old English has published its annual progress report for 2013. The biggest innovation this year: a large number of technological advancements.
DOE logo old
Old logo, state-of-the-art technology

Like every year, the chief editor of the Dictionary of Old English (DOE) – the largest ongoing project on the Anglo-Saxon language in the world – has communicated the institution’s latest lexicographic, computational and personal developments to the rest of the world in the annual progress report. It reveals that 2013 saw the production of a big bag of technological goodies for end users of the DOE and promises continuous progress for the future.

The DOE now grants 20 free logins every year to both the online version of the Dictionary and the Web Corpus. For private individuals of modest means, this should be a particularly welcome innovation. It’s easy to do – just select "New Customer" on the DOE Login Page , fill in your information, and you will be able to access the DOE twenty times for free. More than a hundred people have already taken advantage of this great service.

The free logins, however, are just one of the many technological advances of 2013. The new versions of DOEonline underwent extensive testing. The new platforms are now considerably less vulnerable to bugs and run more efficiently. The DOE’s collaboration with Parker on the Web - the online manuscript page of Parker Library at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge – is progressing well. Hundreds of cross-linking annotations and manuscript thumbnail images have been created. And even a brand-new partnership was established: the DOE is going to produce reciprocal links with the University of Edinburgh’s Corpus of Narrative Etymologies (CoNE). In this way, the transition of the Germanic vocabulary from Old into Middle English will become much better traceable for researchers in the future.

Meanwhile, the DOE is continuing to concentrate on its core mission - the production of lexicon entries for the Dictionary. However, while work on entries for the letter H is well under way, the publication of a new volume does not seem likely any time soon. It has now been 11 years since the publication of the last letter, G. But, of course, the enormously ambitious task to catalogue and digitize the entire surviving vocabulary of Old English cannot be rushed. Slow and steady wins the race. It is better to slowly produce a tool that will be fully functional in the end, than to hastily publish derivative books that would later require a lot of revising. Fortunately, it would appear that the DOE has all the time in the world. With a new generous grant over $500,000 from the Triangle Community Foundation of Raleigh, North Carolina as well as numerous smaller donations, the editors can afford to put as much time into the new volumes of the Dictionary as is necessary.