Germanic Lexicon Project
Author: David Robinson (Glasgow University)
Email: daibhidh at hotmail dot co dot uk
Date: 2015-01-14 14:24:33
Subject: Re: History of B&T at GLP
> > Thank you for replying. Yes it is a bit unusual! I am researching the
> > etymology of 'onion' and I am surprised that the the OED does not
> > even mention the OE words in B&T that are clearly cognate. They would be
> > difficult to find in the paper edition as you might not look under e, y or h!
> > So the question is would a researcher have been able, at that date, to find the
> > words (eneleác, enneleác, ynne-leác, yna) by searching for
> > 'onion' in the digital version as you can easily now. These are of
> > course words you are very unlikely to learn on an OE course as they occur only
> > in glosses, word lists and a very obscure part of the Bible.
> > Please don't go to any great trouble, but I was hoping that if the text
> > files (that is says were updated weekly) were lying in one folder then I
> > might be able to see if the word 'onion' was in the appropriate
> > places without errors so that it could be found.
> > Of course, even if the data was available, there is the question of when
> > researchers actually realized that it was better than the paper version and
> > started using it!
> > David
> Maybe your point was simply about the text being searchable. However, there's another possible reading of what you wrote here.
> The intent of the project is to digitize the dictionaries as they exist on paper. The electronic text should exactly match what's on the paper, or at least as nearly as the limits of the electronic encoding allow. Even if something in the original text is clearly wrong, we digitize it as it stands.
> I think there have been some cases where folks misunderstood, and thought that the intent was to produce a newly revised edition of the text (as opposed to a merely digitized one). Consequently, I think there have been cases where folks added what they considered to be corrections or improvements to the original text.
> So, if there are differences between the original page and the digitized text with regard to the content for the entry for "onion", this should be considered a mistake in the digitization process.
Yes, that is an important point. I am looking at the historiography and it is essential to know what sources - correct or incorrect - each author had to hand. That is why I have been checking scans of sources all the way back through 16th C French to 15th C Latin to see what people really said, rather than what someone says somebody said. In this case I have no suspicion there is any fault in the printed edition - in particular B&T are quite right to report and query the claim that 'yna' means 'onion' as if you check it you find it is in a list of vocabulary a monk might need in the middle of the night!
So my issue is whether the early forms of the digitized text contained 'onion' spelt correctly so that it could be searched for, or whether there were digitization errors that were only corrected later, meaning that I would get different search results from someone in 2004.
I appreciate it may not be practical to find this now, so thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. I will report that the OED 'may not' have been able to find 'onion' in a search in 2004, and, when the paper is published I shall let you know as I think it will be an excellent demonstration of the service you have provided by digitizing B&T so well.