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About the project

There are two inter-related strands to our work: semantic and technical.

The semantic principles are very close to those of the Oxford Latin Dictionary, which itself was influenced by the methodology of James Murray in English lexicography. Some discussion may be found on the Oxford English Dictionary's web pages, especially those which describe writing definitions. These correspond to Chadwick's ideas (see the history page).

On the technical side, we are involved in research on electronic methods of textual storage and retrieval, most recently with our partners in the CHLT project. Our contribution to this centres on a database for our textual sources, as discussed on our 'slips' page.

We are also involved in the publishing process itself, because we are writing the lexicon within an 'XML' structure which we have ourselves designed. A description of that appears on our 'tagging' page.

Looking to the future, digital storage and retrieval also create the possibility of alternatives to alphabetic ordering in dictionaries, and of organising information according to the needs of the user, who may wish to focus on semantics, collocations, the syntactic environment, chronological development, or usage in a particular author. There can be cross-links to texts, grammars, commentaries, encyclopaedic information and illustrations. We intend to explore these possibilities ourselves, and so the lexicon will be available on the Perseus website, as well as appearing in traditional print form. It will also be integrated with the Classics Faculty's Computer-Assisted Text Reading Project.

In the longer term, our methodology would be equally applicable to the writing of larger dictionaries, and to the eventual revision of the large Liddell and Scott. The electronic archive of textual sources which we have developed could be adapted to other lexicographic tasks, and could also be used as a linguistic research tool, and so we hope to make it available to other scholars.

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