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Home :: Archive :: 1992 :: July ::
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 3, No. 184.  Monday, 27 July 1992.
From: 		Roy Flannagan <FLANNAGA@OUACCVMB.BitNet>
Date: 		Monday, July 27, 1992, 18:10:14 EST
Subject: 	OED on CD-ROM
Subject: the OED on CD-ROM as a scholarly tool
I have had the privilege of beta-testing different versions of the OED
CD-ROM, and I have become addicted to it, almost to the point of trading
my third edition of Johnson's {Dictionary} (of similar monetary value)
for a copy of the published version.  Shakespeare is the most-often
quoted author and Milton the third, after Sir Walter Scott!  One uses
the CD-ROM disk through Windows, which means that one can open windows
into a word-processing file, "minimize" that file, then enter the OED
through the "Windows Programs" icon.  Then one can make queries by word,
by author, by phrase, by date, using pull-down menus, or one can make a
more sophisticated query using the query language outlined in the
manual.  Once into an entry, one can select text and save it to a
clipboard, for pasting into one's word-processing document.  One has
access to the information in the newest version of the OED (even newer
than the paper text), but of course one cannot erase any of the contents
of the CD.  The process of finding a single definition is remarkably
fast.  If one wants a list of all uses of a word, the generation of the
list may take some time, but then one can see the instances of usage
laid out, if one chooses, by date, then find the one needed, click on
it, and see the entry in context.
Though the combined cost of the CD-ROM reader and the disk is high (the
readers are much less expensive than they were two years ago), I can say
confidently that the combination of the reader, the software, and the
OED is the best single scholarly tool I have ever used.  One could, for
instance, query the database for all words of French origin used by
Shakespeare.  Browsing in the dictionary is much easier to do than in
the micro-editions, and one can learn a great deal just by serendipity.
I have just scratched the surface of learning how to use the software
and the database after having used the CD constantly for three months,
but I would recommend that every member of this list put pressure on his
or her department or university library to get a copy.  I should
disclaim connection with Oxford University Press: I asked to review the
product because I had participated in conferences having to do with the
use of the OED at the University of Waterloo, where the original
database for the dictionary was maintained.
Roy Flannagan,
Department of English,
Ohio University, Athens, OH 45701

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