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Thousands of Words Added to the Corpus of Old English

February 2021

As a dead language, Old English has a finite number of text sources its native speakers wrote while they were alive. The only way to enlarge the Old English corpus is therefore to discover new manuscripts of previously unknown texts. Such discoveries are extremely rare and noteworthy events. Yet, the DOE’s Corpus of Old English has just accomplished such a feat – several new texts comprising thousands of words were added to their database in 2019.

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May 2011

Dictionary of Old English publishes 2010 Progress Report

The Dictionary of Old English (DOE), a work-in-progress collection and analysis of the entire extant vocabulary of the Old English period (c. 600-1150 A.D.), has published its annual progress report for the year 2010.
DOE logo
Dictionary of Old English:
State-of-the-art lexicographic research

One of the most spectacular new features concerns the implementation of cross-links between the DOE and its sister dictionaries, the Middle English Dictionary and the Oxford English Dictionary. While the historical dictionaries have been reciprocally linked since 2007, the hotlinks from the lexicon of the Oxford English dictionary to its Old English ancestor vocabulary are a recent innovation and will doubtlessly turn out to be a great research tool for scholars and students wishing to trace back the etymology of English words.

Furthermore, the DOE now boasts expanded search functions with Boolean operators (such as, “search term one AND term two”) and DOE searches can be cross-referenced with a bibliography of relevant Latin texts. The DOE 2010 report also mentions last year’s research collaborations, conferences, and visiting scholars. In its moving introduction, the report honours the lifework of recently deceased Bruce Mitchell, one of the most accomplished scholars of the Old English language of all times.

From its inception, the DOE project has made extensive use of state-of-the art technology. For example, the DOE launched the single most comprehensive electronic corpus of Old English available today in 1997. It is now widely used by scholars around the world and forms the basis for the lexicographic explorations conducted by the DOE researches (the DOE corpus can be purchased here). Thanks to the electronic corpus and other modern research tools, work is progressing well and fast for the sub-dictionary letter H, which is scheduled to be published within the next few years, for the entries of letters I/Y, L, M, and N as well as for the lemmatization (i.e. the assignment of standard spellings) of the letter S. Moreover, the DOE has begun a collaborative project with the Stanford University Library to visually link crucial, palaeographical aspects of the Parker manuscripts with the respective entries in the DOE in order to allow easy reviewing of text passage that may be difficult to interpret.

The DOE has been in the making since 1986 at the Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto, and is now directed by chief editor Antonette diPaolo. So far, eight (A-G) of the twenty-two letters of the Old English alphabet have been published, and approximately sixty percent of all entries have been written.