Historical Lexicons in Medieval and Early Modern English and French

multipaper session
  1. 1. Anne Lancashire

    University of Toronto

  2. 2. Brian Merrilees

    University of Toronto

  3. 3. Jennifer Roberts-Smith

    University of Toronto

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The TAPoR (Text Analysis Portal for Research) network operates a Lexical Analysis Laboratory in the Robarts Library at the University of Toronto. The lexicographical projects associated with TAPoR Toronto include the Old English Dictionary, Aalma (a database in medieval French), the Lexicons of Early Modern English, and the Mayors and Sheriffs of London (to date, to 1558). These four projects share a scholarly objective, the accurate representation of ancient languages, both terms and names, so that researchers in all TAPoR institutions can access them, whether in SQL databases or in textbases created with XTeXT (Isagn Inc.), through Geoffrey Rockwell's TAPoR portal at McMaster University.

Anne Lancashire is converting her index of the Mayors and Sheriffs of London (MASL), recently published in a book on medieval London history, into an online database so that it can be enhanced and updated well into the future. The conversion process was not an easy one. Relationships among dates and proper names that appear straightforward on the page become problematic within a database designed especially for them. The book is not identical with the structured intelligence that goes into an SQL database. Lancashire describes how working with a web development group of digital librarians expands the historical research that went into the book.

Jennifer Roberts-Smith, a doctoral student in English at Toronto, discusses how Lexicons of Early Modern English, a text-database of over 120 glossaries and dictionaries published in England between 1480 and 1702, contributes to her reassessment of the prosody of Shakespeare and his fellow dramatists. Roberts-Smith, a director and a member of ACTRA, shows that the language of metrics in the Early Modern period is a musical one. From words like tune as used by lexicographers like Robert Cawdrey, it is possible to infer that Elizabethan and Jacobean dramatic verse has "an inherent temporal rhythm that guides actors as to the relative pace of their delivery." Many historical scholars have observed that Renaissance English, lexically, offers many of the same problems to a modern reader as does a foreign tongue. This estrangement may now be extended to metrics.

Brian Merrilees is undertaking an online edition of fifteen manuscript glossaries of medieval French that vary widely but are, as a group, termed the Aalma. One challenge in this project is to find a way to give a full collation of variant readings from many manuscripts at the same time as to maintain the integrity of the various manuscript versions. For a long time Merrilees has worked very productively with WordCruncher, a 1980s interactive concordancer. Faced with the challenge of constructing an online hybrid, at once a collection of well-edited texts and a large index of variant readings, Merrilees is experimenting with a new generation of SQL database and XTeXT textbase technologies.

Lancashire, Roberts-Smith, and Merrilees differently show how, once digitized within a structured form, lexical and onomastical materials conspire to become a semantic web.

(Ian Lancashire)

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Conference Info

In review


Hosted at University of Victoria

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

June 15, 2005 - June 18, 2005

139 works by 236 authors indexed

Affiliations need to be double checked.

Conference website: http://web.archive.org/web/20071215042001/http://web.uvic.ca/hrd/achallc2005/

Series: ACH/ICCH (25), ALLC/EADH (32), ACH/ALLC (17)

Organizers: ACH, ALLC

  • Keywords: None
  • Language: English
  • Topics: None