CHWP B.11 Siemens, "Lexicographical Method in Cawdrey"

3. Methodology and Tools

To assist in this study of Cawdrey's lexicographic style, electronic texts of Cawdrey's four editions were created and, thus, some words regarding the texts themselves and the methodology of the study are in order.[8] Douglas Kibbee, in a discussion of the difficulties inherent in the study of historical dictionaries, has concluded that "computers are not only a means to avoid some of the mind-numbing aspects of the study of dictionaries; they are more importantly the tool to open new ways of viewing the text" (33). Jürgen Schäfer also had expressed similar positive sentiments in his discussion of the use of computers in lexicographical research, and he notes the integral part played by the computer in his Early Modern English Lexicography (1982, 1989). The computer is a tool that has an extraordinary capability to assist those interested in certain types of textual analysis; specifically, its aid in comparing materials, recognizing patterns, and manipulating data make it indispensable.

The electronic texts of Cawdrey's Table which have been made to facilitate computer access are tagged transcriptions with few editorial emendations. Changes, minimal as they are, primarily involve the modernization of some aspects of the Early Modern English writing system -- forms of s, r, ligatures, and brevigraphs -- to reflect current scholarly editorial procedures. Tags appear in a COCOA format and are, in matter and arrangement, like those adopted by the editors of the electronic texts of the bilingual dictionaries of Palsgrave and Cotgrave (figure 1).[9] Within all four texts, tags are deployed with the intention of rendering organizational and structural divisions as Cawdrey himself chose to make; a standard entry is represented as seen in figure 2. From the four texts, a separate file was created containing the entries for all distinct headwords. This file has been parsed and lemmatized for the purpose of stylistic analysis; a typical entry appears as in figure 3.[10]

In addition to the use of traditional scholarly methods, analysis of these texts has been carried out with the assistance of TACT, a collection of text-retrieval and analysis programs for use on IBM personal computers, as well as common text-editing, word-processing, database, and spreadsheet packages. Text-retrieval abilities afforded by programs such as TACT provide an entry into a text that is unavailable to the user of the manuscripts alone. Foremostly, TACT has allowed me to ask questions of the text and analyze patterns therein that would be, otherwise, time-consuming to the point of their being impossible. In examining Cawdrey's lexicographical style, this assistance has been indispensable.

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[8] See Robert Cawdrey's A Table Alphabeticall (1604), ed. R. Siemens, in the Renaissance Electronic Texts series (Toronto: Centre for Computing in the Humanities, 1995), reprinted in TACT, Textual Analysis Computing Tools, ed. I. Lancashire et al. (New York: Modern Language Association, forthcoming). The resources of the 1604 text can also be accessed via the Early Modern English Dictionaries Database (ed. Ian Lancashire, 1996). The complete group of texts is available through the Oxford Text Archive (OTA A-1715-A). [Note updated May 1996]

[9] See Lancashire for a discussion of the Cotgrave and Palsgrave tagging grammar (73-81). Tags in the electronic texts of Cawdrey are of a structure such that they could be converted to TEI-SGML tags by reversing the conversion process described by Lancashire (85-6).

[10] Parsing and lemmatizing were completed with the assistance of TACT's preprocessing programs PreProc, MakeDct, TagText, and SatDct. TACT was developed by the TACT Group, the University of Toronto, and is distributed on-line. Please refer to my "Lemmatization and Parsing with TACT Preprocessing Programs" ( CH Working Papers, A.1 [1996]) for details regarding the lemmatization procedure and the parsing grammar. [Note updated May 1996]