Editing and Concording the “Dictionarius” of Firmin Le Ver (1440)

Editing and Concording the “Dictionarius” of Firmin Le Ver (1440)

By Brian Merrilees, William Edwards, David Megginson

CCH Working Papers Vol.2 (1992)

Abstract: The Dictionarius of Firmin Le Ver (DLV) is a very large Latin-French dictionary compiled in Abbeville, Northern France, in the first half of the fifteenth century. The text is preserved in Paris, Bibl.Nat. 1120 where it takes up 467 folios, a total of 12,800 headwords, plus 37,700 subheadwords, a total text of 540,000 words in all, giving an electronic file of 4.5 Mb.
Our primary aim in our project has been to produce a critical edition of the DLV, although from the outset we intended to manipulate the data, most importantly to provide access to the French definitional material.

The text was entered in WordPerfect (initially 4.0 and 4.1, later 4.2, now converted to 5.1) and set out in a manner that aimed at representing, as best we could, the layout of the dictionary entries on the manuscript page. In this we were helped by the codes of WordPerfect, particularly the bold and underline features, which were used with a colour screen to make our editing an easier process. On the whole the text was not heavily marked at the entering stage.

Even as we were entering the text, we began experimenting with WordCruncher, the text retrieval software, which we found very powerful for searching word items, strings such as prefixes, suffixes, which aided not only lexical studies, but, in a rudimentary way, aided analysis of dictionary entry structures.

A critical edition of the dictionary text would not have been the valuable tool we had hoped, if we could not provide a simple and effective means of indexing the French vocabulary items, without adding the bulk of a typical concordance. David Megginson has devised a text analysis program that creates a simple index, permitting quick reference to the dictionary text, which can be slipped into the last volume of the edition on a few microfiches.

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