Principal Investigator
David-Antoine Williams

David Williams is Associate Professor of English at St Jerome’s University in the University of Waterloo, where he teaches classes on poetry, criticism, and British literature. This is his project and these are the people who are making it happen. A bit of personal background and a CV can be found elsewhere on this site. Our current projects are described here.


Research Assistants
NAod Abraham

Naod completed his first co-op term with TLOW as a second-year student in Mathematical Physics at UWaterloo, making and testing vector models of different OED editions in order to line them up right.


NONHUMAN Associates

LOWBOT is a series of algorithms with a strong interest in inspecting OED quotations alongside large text corpora. It does much, and says little. However, it loves to tweet regularly (at times very regularly), and can be followed here. NB. The image to the left is not actually LOWBOT, who did not provide a photo for this page. It is actually a more advanced model, Poet Bot (not to be confused with Bot Poet), who lives with Savage Chickens, by Doug Savage.

project alumni
danielle griffin, BA (waterloo), MA (Waterloo)

Danielle obtained a BA and then an MA in English Literature and Rhetoric. She began working on The Life of Words for her first undergraduate co-op term, stuck with us throughout, and won numerous external awards for her work.

Adam BradleY, BA (mcMaster), MA, PHD (Waterloo)

Adam earned his PhD in both the departments of English Language and Literature and Systems Design Engineering. He is interested in the intersections between technology and traditional literary studies with a focus on early 20th century poetics. His current work is concerned with macro-level visualizations of the OED and ways that this understanding of the dictionary can be applied to poetry. Other interests include modernist literature, classical languages, and ancient rhetoric.

Chris Giannakopoulos, MA (Waterloo)

Chris was a Master’s student in the English Department at the University of Waterloo. His research focussed on how words in poems might inform our broader conception of how language ‘does what it does’. Other interests include: word puzzles and riddles, the history and theory of rhetoric and semiotics, Classical and Hellenistic art and architecture, and anything written by Roland Barthes.

Cosmin Dzsurdzsa

Cosmin was a research assistant at The Life of Words for over three years. He holds the record for the most tokens tagged for genre of anyone to have worked on the project. Cosmin is also a practicing poet who saw his work on the OED as a way to collect raw material for poems.


John Sardo

John was a second-year pure mathematics student with a strong interest in English literature. He said: “My favourite part of the work is being exposed to an extremely diverse range of literature by reading the works that OED passages come from.”

jessica verschoor

Jessica was a first-year undergraduate student in the Honours Arts program, with plans to double major in Medieval Studies and English. She reported enjoying her work on The Life of Words, as it fostered her expanding vocabulary, and exposes her to a wide variety of texts. She has been especially impressed by how many and how many different kinds of works one author can produce. Jess’s favourite word is evidently.

Kirstin XIE

Kirstin was a third-year student in the Accounting and Finance Program. She enjoyed learning more about how our use of language in literature shapes the language itself.


Matthew Sleiman

Matt received his BA in English Literature at the University of Waterloo, and was at one point the senior undergraduate RA on the project. He told us: “While researching the genre origins of words, I thought it was interesting how many of the words come from religious works: not just the Bible, but sermons and commentaries as well. Aside from the fact that they needed to create words to make ‘the ineffable’ effable, the writers of these works themselves became creators in discussing the story of creation.”


Sai was an Honours Psychology Major with a Minor in English Literature.  One of the first things Sai noticed in tagging OED quotations was the variety of genres a single surname can yield. One good example is  entries marked with the author tag “A. Hamilton” – most of the Alexander Hamilton entries [by both the American founding father and the East India Company  Captain] are letters, journals, or our miscellaneous “other” category, but there is also Allan Hamilton, the doctor who described “nervous diseases”, Lady Augusta Hamilton, who wrote about marriage rites and midwifery, Augustus Hamilton, who documented Maori culture, and the list goes on. Sai quickly learned the importance of taking clues from other metadata, such as quotation dates, when scanning author names.