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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: December ::
Re: OED and Shakespeare
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.2467  Monday, 30 December 2002

[1]     From:   Vick Bennison <
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        Date:   Monday, 23 Dec 2002 10:24:06 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.2458 Re: OED and Shakespeare

[2]     From:   Robin Hamilton <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 24 Dec 2002 00:18:02 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.2458 Re: OED and Shakespeare

[3]     From:   John W. Kennedy <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 24 Dec 2002 00:15:53 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.2458 Re: OED and Shakespeare


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Vick Bennison <
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Date:           Monday, 23 Dec 2002 10:24:06 EST
Subject: 13.2458 Re: OED and Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.2458 Re: OED and Shakespeare

Does the OED actually claim "coinage" for the words?  My understanding
was that OED simply noted the earliest usage found in major sources,
which sources are listed up front.  The controversy would seem to me to
be over the "usage" (how the word is being used in the source), rather
then "coinage" (who was the first to use it that way).  One can never be
sure of coinage, especially given the large number of missing potential
sources, and because many words are no doubt coined on the street.  But
if coinage is what OED is after, then I must tell them that the word
"back-friend" which they attribute to Shakespeare was used decades
earlier in a letter by a certain notorious earl (who did not write the
works of Shakespeare) and whose name will not here be mentioned.

- Vick

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robin Hamilton <
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Date:           Tuesday, 24 Dec 2002 00:18:02 -0000
Subject: 13.2458 Re: OED and Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.2458 Re: OED and Shakespeare

>There are solutions for editors to the problems of the OED's tendency to
>ascribe first usages of words incorrectly to Shakespeare: (1) use such
>on-line corpora as are readily available to search for antedatings;

The two major on-line corpora are:

[Sorry, not -- obviously -- corpora.]

(1) The Early Modern English Dictionary Database [much better than the
OED for the Renaissance]:

http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/english/emed/emedd.html

... and the Medieval English Dictionary (Ann Arbor):

http://ets.umdl.umich.edu/m/med/

Both require you to register.  (Free, but it can be tricky, and the MED
switches its open-access password every month.  A total pain.)

Both the major Scottish Dictionaries -- DOST and SND -- are supposed to
be coming online, FOE, inside the next two years.

The big gap (unless I've missed something) is dialect, whether
synchronic or diachronic.  And slang.

As to corpora (as such) -- gutenberg is still probably the major source,
although the standards of editing and transcription make it scholarly
unsafe.  Michigan does the medieval period rather well, and the AS
material is pretty much totally available.  For the ladies, Brown
University is mostly where it's at.  Though that is fairly heavily
gated, mostly, it seems, over worry about copyright.

{Anyone managed to get a decent version of Anne Bradstreet?}

Hiding somewhere in the background is the Oxford Text Archive.

So ...

The two big Holes on the Web that bug me are Blind Hary's _Wallace_ (OTA
does -- upper case, but you can get round this -- The Brus, but not The
Wallace) and Anything To Do With Dialect.

Oh, add in (corpora) Chadwyck-Healey, which is pay-through-the-nose.

Ah, almost forgot -- EETO.  But you can only get to this if you're
academe.

Hope this helps.

Robin Hamilton.

[Hardy -- could we have a FAQ around this, lodged somewhere in the
SHAKSPER archives, so that the signal-to-noise ratio, every time someone
mentions the OED, could be reduced?

[Editor?s Note: The SHAKSPER website has an excellent search engine that
can search by year, submitted papers, or the entire site. Anyone wishing
should use the search engine to find previous discussions. As to an FAQ,
if anyone would like to compile one, I will have it mounted at the
website. Otherwise, on occasions, I remind the list that a topic has
been discussed previously and direct members to the search engine.
Others should feel free to make the same suggestion when they believe
that such a reminder is warranted. -Hardy]

:-(

R.]

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John W. Kennedy <
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Date:           Tuesday, 24 Dec 2002 00:15:53 -0500
Subject: 13.2458 Re: OED and Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.2458 Re: OED and Shakespeare

Peter Holland <
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 > writes,

>There are solutions for editors to the problems of the OED's tendency to
>ascribe first usages of words incorrectly to Shakespeare: (1) use such
>on-line corpora as are readily available to search for antedatings; and
>(2) indicate that the OED makes such an ascription without indicating
>that the editor necessarily believes the OED's assumption of
>Shakespearean coining to be accurate.

I do not recall that the OED claims its first citations to be first uses
-- only the earliest uses that their readers made note of (for which, of
course, there is a tremendous Shakespeare bias).  Their database, even
in its original Victorian form, is huge, but I myself have contributed a
few antedating cites, and I'm neither a scholar nor in any way employed
by the OED.  (That reminds me -- I've got to correct their entry on
"phlizz", which has the accurate first use, but gets the definition
wrong.)

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