Tag Archives: dictionaries

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 […]

Sex in the OED

Two subprojects concerning OED quotation metadata are now near enough to complete to present some preliminary results. They concern the sex of the authors quoted in the OED, in both the first edition (1928) and the later Supplements (1933, 1972-86). The most focused work on this question so far has been Baigent, Brewer, and Larminie, […]

Guest Post: Strong and Weak Genre Classification

Over the summer we’re featuring guest posts by Research Assistants at The Life of Words. Here Cosmin Dzsurdzsa – a 2nd year undergraduate in English at UW – thinks about moving from human intuition to computer rule-making in textual-genre classification: When trying to automate text classification algorithmically, one has to pay close attention to how […]

Guest Post: Moving from 2.0 to 3.0

Danielle Griffin recently completed her co-op term as a full-time research assistant at The Life of Words. Here she offers some thoughts about her work on identifying the textual genre of quotations in the Oxford English Dictionary: When I started my job as an RA, Dr. Williams had me tagging quotations five days a week […]

Life of Words Poetry Competition

Good news for Ontario secondary school students who like words: The Life of Words is announcing the first in what will be an annual poetry competition, in which we invite submissions of poems about words and reward excellence with some pretty great prizes. Here is the competition web page, where we’ll post links, news, and […]

Vector Space and Poetic Logic

I’ve been spending the weekend experimenting with vector space modelling and poetic language. Vector space word embedding models use learning algorithms on very large corpora in order map a unique location in n-dimensional space to each token (=word) in the corpus. “N-dimensional space” is just a mathy-sounding way of saying that multiple (or n) features […]

Untrustable Assertions

Listening to the NPR today, I hear this from E. J. Dionne, commenting on GOP Congressman Kevin McCarthy’s astounding statements about the civic accomplishments of the Republican House: [Dionne] We’re going to have a lot of fun with him in terms of the English language. In that recent statement he invented the word “untrustable”. He […]

Interview with Paul Muldoon

Here are some excerpts from an interview I did with Paul Muldoon a couple of years ago, which focused on dictionaries and etymology. A full .pdf version of the interview can be downloaded here: [Interview with Paul Muldoon]. PM: I’ve never really been into the OED Online. Maybe I should. I think I might even […]

Introducing the LOW Team

The recent Ontario Early Researcher Award [See “Big Boost for The Life of Words“] turned what had been largely a one-man show into a multi-person operation involving a number of research assistants and associates. To give them their due, I’ve created a team profiles page where they introduce themselves and their interests. I’ll keep this […]

Method as Tautology

Although it has been available for a while in the advanced access section of Digital Scholarship in the Humanities, and before that Literary and Linguistic Computing, my article on digital methods in literary research has recently been published in its final version. The full bibliographic details are: Williams, David-Antoine. “Method as Tautology in the Digital […]