Three conferences this summer

After a baby-related travelling hiatus of a couple three years, TLOW is hitting the road this summer, with stops at Ryerson University in Toronto (just barely down the road, really) at the end of May, for the Canadian Society for Digital Humanities meeting at CFHSS Congress; then off to Barbados and the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, for the Dictionary Society of North America’s 21st biennial meeting; and rounding things off in my ancestral home, at McGill University and the Université de Montréal, for Digital Humanities 2017 at the end of the summer. Then it’s back to a second baby-related hiatus for a spell.

I’ll be giving papers at each meeting on different aspects of our work, with lots to say about the OED, genre, poetry, lexicography, language, literary history, algorithms, corpora, and so on. If any passers-by to this post plan to attend one (or more) of these meetings, it would be great to meet up and talk shop. See yous there!


One last round with metadata from Hathi and Underwood

In “Hathi’s Automatic Genre Classifier” and “Hathi Genre Again – Zero Recall“, I ran a couple of experiments comparing genre categories assigned by human taggers working on the Life of Words OED mark-up project to two sources of genre metadata associated with the HathiTrust Digital Library. The first post looked at data from the automatic […]


Poetry Competition Time

As part of our OMRI funding, LOW runs an annual poetry competition, open to all high school students in Ontario. Last year’s pilot run had a few dozen submissions, from which we picked one winner, two runners up, and twelve honorable mentions, all collected in our 2016 Anthology. Last year’s theme was “write a poem […]


Shakespeare’s Earliest Citations in the OED

No author’s representation in the OED has received more comment than Shakespeare’s: if you ever come across a mention of OED citation evidence, more than likely it’s being used to substantiate (sometimes challenge or qualify) a claim that Shakespeare invented the most English words, or made up the most new meanings for existing words, or […]


OED Subject Matter

In my last post I described using HathiTrust’s Solr Proxy API to fetch Hathi genre metadata for OED quotations. But genre is not the only metadata that Hathi sends back down the intertubes when I ask it a question. For most works, I also get a Library of Congress Classification code for the volume. This […]


Hathi Genre Again – Zero Recall

In “Hathi’s Automatic Genre Classifier” [17.01.06] I compared the consolidated automatic genre metadata for a subset of HathiTrust Digital Library texts (available here) to the genre classifications arrived at for human-inspected works as part of the OED quotation tagging project under-way at The Life of Words. My process there was pretty closely supervised, but the […]


Guest Post: Magazines and the Dentist Test

Cosmin Dzsurdzsa is a research assistant working on identifying the textual genre of quotations in the OED. Here he writes the first in a series of posts on borderline and difficult genre determinations. Filtering quotation blocks is essential to optimizing our results with the quantity of data we deal with here at LOW. For a […]


Hathi’s Automatic Genre Classifier

The HathiTrust Digital Library is a massive collection of digital books: As of 2017, it contains 5 billion pages from 15 million volumes (7 million titles). About 40% of these are public-domain works, meaning anyone can search and read them. Some of these have been marked for their textual genre. Here I do a little […]


OED Gender Genre

In “Sex in the OED” I  ran through some figures on female vs male representation in OED quotation evidence, comparing the original OED1 with the later Supplements that resulted in OED2. Here I look a little closer at what kinds of works by women the two editions tended to cite. Below are two charts breaking […]


Burchfield’s Reach-Backs

The vast majority of the quotation evidence in Robert Burchfield’s OED Supplements comes from after the first (1928) edition was completed. The median date for these is 1944, whereas for the first edition it’s 1742. However, in some circumstances the Supplements did reach back into periods already covered by OED1 — if it could antedate […]