The Digital Dictionary

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Anglo-Saxonists have always been well represented in the field of Digital Humanities,1 and perhaps the foremost among these has been The Dictionary of Old English. As we use the Dictionary and Corpus today, however, with their impressive modern inter- faces and rapid search facilities, it is easy to forget that this project was first conceived in the 1960s when computing was paid for by the hour and the cutting-edge in data storage was reel-to-reel magnetic tape. Despite these and other significant limita- tions, the Dictionary team chose to use computing technology from the very start, producing both the corpus and the dictionary itself in digital form, and they have man- aged to sustain this over some forty years. This achievement is a significant one, par- ticularly as concerns about longevity of digital resources are still current, and so the lessons learned in this project are relevant to many of us now. These lessons are the ultimate subject of this paper, which will begin by considering the Dictionary of Old English Project and its development in the context of computing and digital human- ities before discussing some uses and limitations of the Dictionary and Corpus and finally noting some brief lessons for large digital projects in general.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-65
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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