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Cambridge Greek Lexicon

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Cambridge Greek Lexicon

Postby Dante » Thu Oct 06, 2016 11:16 pm

something to look forward to for 2018!

Heres a newly published video about the project:

https://youtu.be/5ryhFSq2H8k

and here's their webpage:

http://www.classics.cam.ac.uk/Research/projects/glp
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Re: Cambridge Greek Lexicon

Postby Victor » Fri Oct 07, 2016 1:38 am

It's certainly something to look forward to.

I seem to remember reading somewhere about them using up-to-date English and avoiding the now archaic English of earlier lexicons. That's commendable, of course, though the sample page, with its references to women's "girdles" and "maidenhood", suggests they may have a slightly archaic notion of the up-to-date.

The bold Greek face used for headwords is highly legible. The only criticism I'd make of it is that it has a somewhat cartoony appearance, with a very pronounced curliness to letters such as lambda, chi and nu, for example.

The spacing between some of the abbreviated matter leaves a little to be desired as well: "W.GEN." and "Att.orats." strike me as indefensible compaction, whilst "neut.impers.vbl.adj." is the outcome of stark insensibility.

These are minor gripes, though, and I'm sure many of us are looking forward to putting it through its paces and expecting it will perform where it really matters.

I wish they'd lose the music in the video.
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Re: Cambridge Greek Lexicon

Postby Hylander » Fri Oct 07, 2016 12:50 pm

"indefensible compaction", "stark insensibility"

In a dictionary this big, space is always at a premium. Eliminating small spaces where they aren't necessary for comprehension results in a large cumulative saving of space. LSJ makes extensive use of inscrutable abbreviations for this reason--inscrutable, that is, unless you look them up. Hard to blame them for doing this.
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Re: Cambridge Greek Lexicon

Postby Paul Derouda » Fri Oct 07, 2016 2:29 pm

Looks like a replacement to Middle Liddell to me, certainly not to LSJ. Not references to specific passages in authors, so we'll still need LSJ for that.

But the dictionary does look very promising. I like it how the entry on λύω is constructed, with the main senses listed first and the nuances given later in subsections.

I agree about the music. Ditch it. I can't make out what people are saying in the video, being non-native in English and slightly hard of hearing.
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Re: Cambridge Greek Lexicon

Postby Timothée » Fri Oct 07, 2016 2:54 pm

I await it with much more excitement than the Brill dictionary. I don’t, however, think it was ever meant to replace the large Oxford lexicon.

Nothing wrong with abbreviations whatever; it’s a dictionary after all. I’m sure there’ll be a key. They could even have reintroduced the great Victorio-Edwardian lexicographical practice of borrowing the residual space of previous or subsequent lemma to fit in a word or two that would otherwise have to go onto a new row. Nicely seen in Macdonell’s or Menge’s dictionaries, for instance.

To me it feels always weird when native English speakers complain that a work has an archaic Klang about it. There isn’t one single Greek dictionary in my native language. Imagine that you would have to use Greek dictionaries e.g. in German having none in English.
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Re: Cambridge Greek Lexicon

Postby Victor » Fri Oct 07, 2016 5:17 pm

Timothée wrote:Nothing wrong with abbreviations whatever; it’s a dictionary after all. I’m sure there’ll be a key.

I'm afraid you've very clearly misunderstood me. Hylander half has, it seems.

I didn't say there was anything wrong with the CGL using abbreviations; in almost any dictionary, abbreviations are necessary and to be expected. Nor did I complain that the CGL's abbreviations were inscrutable. What I did say was that the spacing used (or rather not used) in some of the abbreviations left something to be desired.

Look again at the spacing in the abbreviations I referred to. There is apparently no greater space between the stop after W and the G of GEN than there is between the individual letters of GEN. The same criticism can be levelled at Att.orats and many other abbreviations on the sample page.

Middle Liddell abounds with abbreviations, yet you will struggle to find any spacing offences of the kind I'm referring to; the vast majority, if not all, of its abbreviations are generously, clearly and pleasingly spaced. This aids legibility considerably. Many of the CGL's abbreviations I can see on that page, on the other hand, are not spaced at all. There is a small aggregate gain in compression, certainly, but a more than countervailing loss in legibility.

I say this without the least arrogance, but I suspect that unless you have some insight into the aesthetics and traditions of typography you may be unable to see how inappropriate and anomalous the spacing used in some of the CGL's abbreviations actually is. In its defence all I can say is that the computer age is making typographical solecisms of this kind less unusual and therefore less objectionable to many people than they once would have been.

Timothée wrote:To me it feels always weird when native English speakers complain that a work has an archaic Klang about it.

Personally I seldom complain in the least on that score, but an increasing number of young people do, and it's a commercial own goal, even for publishers in dead languages, not to move with the times.
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Re: Cambridge Greek Lexicon

Postby C. S. Bartholomew » Fri Oct 07, 2016 7:51 pm

The video claimed they were adopting methodology from the OED. The sample page doesn't show much evidence of any change in methodology from previous lexicons. Perhaps there is more contextual information. I haven't seen anything coming from classical philologists that looks anything like the work being done in lexical semantics by UBS.

The big difference in biblical studies is the input from linguists doing field research who actually end up compiling dictionaries[1] for living languages which have never had a dictionary. Their approach to lexical semantics is quite different from the OED. Decades ago when I was reading E. A. Nida's published works at first I was put off by the social science framework. I wasn't thrilled about anthropologists messing with the bible. Over time I began to appreciate how the social science was producing better translations. But it took a long time for me to get over my distaste for sociology and anthropology.

Print lexicons are constrained by the book making technology. I don't think semantic networks really belong in print technology. Thirty years ago UBS did a computer based NT Greek lexicon which they also offered in print. I have both and use both. But the online UBS Hebrew lexicon isn't very print friendly, the volume of the information that can be attached to a contextual semantic domain lexicon lexicon and the volume of cross indexed information makes books not a viable delivery system.


[1] roughly 20 years ago, an under-cover translator from a "cannot be mentioned" country was living here and working on the first dictionary ever produced for her native language. On the dictionary project she was a language consultant for a secular scholar at the univ who didn't know and still doesn't know she was doing translation of the bible into her language.
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Re: Cambridge Greek Lexicon

Postby Hylander » Fri Oct 07, 2016 9:37 pm

Look again at the spacing in the abbreviations I referred to. There is apparently no greater space between the stop after W and the G of GEN than there is between the individual letters of GEN. The same criticism can be levelled at Att.orats and many other abbreviations on the sample page.


Yes, I noticed that, but again the savings of tiny increments of space will aggregate to a significant overall savings. The abbreviations in LSJ and this dictionary have the same effect.
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Re: Cambridge Greek Lexicon

Postby Victor » Fri Oct 07, 2016 11:33 pm

Hylander wrote:The abbreviations in LSJ and this dictionary have the same effect.

Yes of course, except that Middle Liddell and LSJ managed to abbreviate throughout without falling foul of traditional typographic norms, and nobody thought the resulting lexicons were unnecessarily big as a result.

If the additional space saving (over and above that achieved by the spacing of abbreviations in these earlier lexicons) achieved by the CGL's contravention of these norms is as significant as you seem to be suggesting it is, the wonder is that the earlier lexicons did not adopt the same system when it came to typesetting their abbreviations.

The simple explanation is that the earlier lexicons did not adopt the CGL's system firstly because the extra space saving would have been negligible (don't forget paper was relatively more expensive then than it is now, so any significant space saving opportunity would have been likely to be even more keenly seized on), and secondly because the publishers would have considered it aesthetically and functionally undesirable to do so.

Space saving was clearly a motivation with the CGL team for the brutal lack of spacing they've adopted in their layout of abbreviations. My point is that their system betokens insensitivity to matters of both functionality and aesthetics, and, if the CGL's predecessors are anything to go by, is unlikely to have been driven by strict necessity.
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Re: Cambridge Greek Lexicon

Postby cb » Sun Oct 23, 2016 7:09 am

hi, many thanks for this link. i see that they're going to put it on perseus, which will be great (although the fact that they don't include citations will probably mean that i don't use it unfortunately - i tend to read all or most of the whole entry in the LSJ/OLD, including the citations, to learn/relearn the wider meanings of the word even if not relevant to the text i'm currently reading. also, because i usually stick to pretty canonical authors, i often find a reference to the very passage i'm reading in the dictionary article, which gives me confidence that i've found the right sense).

just a curiosity question: does anyone here know whether the people at the project are keeping a record of which specific passages in their slips form the basis of their different sense distinctions (e.g. which specific passages in the slips they've assigned to each of their 30+ sense distinctions under λύω)?

they've got a pretty cool-looking database that they're using as their slips collection; screenshots here (and they've said that they may make it available later):
(slip view): http://www.classics.cam.ac.uk/images/glp/theatron.png
(LSJ weave view): http://www.classics.cam.ac.uk/images/gl ... nweave.png

my question really is: if people decide to use this new dictionary as the basis of a new and bigger dictionary (with citations) in the future to replace LSJ, will lexicographers need to read all the slips again from scratch to assign the citations to the different sense distinctions? hopefully not!

cheers, chad
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Re: Cambridge Greek Lexicon

Postby mwh » Tue Oct 25, 2016 3:07 am

I expect the dictionary will be useful, and they were lucky to have James Diggle invested in it. My immediate impression is that it’s largely successful in what it sets out to do. It’s certainly more up to date than the Middle Liddell it aims to replace, much more balanced in its coverage, and arguably more user-friendly. It has many excellent features, but I do have a few gripes:
(1) The crude typography, especially the lack of kerning, resulting in a very ragged right margin which offends the eye. Schoolchildren do better than this on their computers.
(2) The provincialism of the project, clearly designed to boost Cambridge. Haven’t we had enough of Oxford-Cambridge sibling rivalry? The heroization of John Chadwick goes along with this. (I doubt he’d be very happy with the result.)
(3) The lexicographical principles applied. It’s all very well for Diggle to identify 55 different “senses” of ἔχω, and to arrange them in “groups,” but the classification system is left without any underpinning, and a primitive linear sequencing like this can’t avoid being arbitrary. I’m looking at λύω on the sample page, with 35 separate senses distinguished. Why start with “1. set loose (a person, fr. restraint or captivity),” and what inherently makes that distinct from “2. set loose (an animal)” on the one hand or from “3. set free (fr. sthg. unwelcome)” on the other? Sure, you can kind of understand the distinctions made, but justification in terms of lexical semantics is entirely lacking.
The ancient distinction between literal and metaphorical meanings is almost wholly abandoned (λύω 10 is recognized as “fig.”), but nothing replaces it. Does a Pindaric passage deserve a discrete sense (#4) imposed on it? Etc. etc.
It’s easy to criticize, of course, but I do think the organizing principles could have been better articulated and more sophisticated. Compared with LSJ’s lexicographical practice I’m tempted to call it retrograde. And they could at least have called it a dictionary.

Chad’s question is a good one. We can only hope that there’s some record of what passages underlie the various senses distinguished. I wouldn’t count on it, but we need to be able to match up assigned sense with exemplifying passages, and it’s a bit of a wasted opportunity if all we’re left with is this untestable distillation of decisions made on the basis of who knows what?
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Re: Cambridge Greek Lexicon

Postby cb » Tue Oct 25, 2016 9:15 am

hi, i agree - i think i'll still keep using the LSJ for looking up words when reading.

i'll probably instead read this new dictionary outside the context of reading a text, using it instead to look up those common words that have lots of senses, and read the conspectus of senses they group at the beginning of the entries, where they say "The sections are grouped as follows: ...".

for prepositions and some common verbs with millions of senses i think it could be really helpful to have another overview like that handy, as a quick semantic web refresher. cheers, chad
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Re: Cambridge Greek Lexicon

Postby jeidsath » Tue Oct 25, 2016 1:23 pm

I am cautiously optimistic. I will bet that the slips database does exist and that it will be the main fruit of this project. In fact, I wonder if the digital edition of this dictionary will include hyperlinks to the exact references. The current typesetting is unfortunate, but with a digital work like this, can be improved in an afternoon, and therefore may not be final.

mwh wrote:(3) The lexicographical principles applied. It’s all very well for Diggle to identify 55 different “senses” of ἔχω, and to arrange them in “groups,” but the classification system is left without any underpinning, and a primitive linear sequencing like this can’t avoid being arbitrary. I’m looking at λύω on the sample page, with 35 separate senses distinguished. Why start with “1. set loose (a person, fr. restraint or captivity),” and what inherently makes that distinct from “2. set loose (an animal)” on the one hand or from “3. set free (fr. sthg. unwelcome)” on the other? Sure, you can kind of understand the distinctions made, but justification in terms of lexical semantics is entirely lacking.


I think that there may be more method than madness here. Looking at λύω, it seems clear that the separate senses are not divided based on meaning, but instead based on context. Instead of trying to answer the question (primarily) "what does this word mean?" they are answering "where is this word used?" By providing so much information on context, the particular sense meant by the English gloss used for any given word becomes more clear. In fact, you could almost leave the glosses out and still leave the real bones of the entry.

I think that you correctly point out where this method gets into trouble: the division between figurative versus metaphorical uses is no longer a first class citizen. If you are loosing yokes, it makes no bones whether the yoke is figurative or metaphorical. And it's problematic to me that 10 seems to suggest that active and middle loosenings "from the body" are literal, but the passive use will only be figurative, and only refer to the yoke of despotism. I wonder why that section of the entry didn't use italics for an "example use" instead of a meaning.

But 15 was what really stood out to me as too much shoved together.

15 untie, undoa knot Hdt. Plu. —(fig.) a knot of words E.; (intr., fig.) untie a knot (i.e. resolve a difficulty) S.; (of a dramatist) unravel a plot Arist


It's going to be interesting to use a dictionary like this for composition. Also, this would be an interesting sort of dictionary for anyone interested in a computer translation project (aka Google Translate for ancient Greek).

EDIT: A re-read of the Introduction (not the "first chapter" to Chadwick's Lexicographica Graeca (which the article claims explains the principles of this dictionary), confirms that there is an electronic slips database. Also, there seems to be a lot more to the method beyond what Chadwick calls "the contextual approach." If people don't have access to Chadwick's book, I could try to find a scanner to make a PDF of the introduction.
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Re: Cambridge Greek Lexicon

Postby Timothée » Tue Oct 25, 2016 2:44 pm

The bane of many a “classical” dictionary is the plethora of poetic senses for a lemma in the authors’ desire to be as complete as they can. An example of this is Steingass’ dictionary, still (dare I say perforce) much used as there’s no replacement. I don’t claim it’s an easy balance. Would it be commendable to winnow the senses into as few as possible? The reader must be able to understand some non-literal senses, for example of yoke to steal Joel’s example.

To take a cognate, Sanskrit yoga- ‘yoking’ forms a great many senses from the idea of attaching (two) things together, e.g. (taken from Monier-Williams) yoking, joining, attaching; team, vehicle, conveyance; employment, use, application; equipping, arraying; junction, union, combination; connexion, relation; exertion, endeavour, zeal; application/concentration of thoughts, meditation, self-concentration. Some of the senses are easier, some more difficult to derive from the basic meaning. The Finnish word ies ‘yoke’, on the other hand, is figuratively used of subjugation, based on the idea that the beast of draught is cruelly vinculated (?) to the yoke.

An English example is Tennyson’s poem, where he writes “’Tis not too late to — — smite the sounding furrows”. The word furrow ‘narrow trench made in the earth with a plough’ refers here to sailing, as a ship figuratively grooves a furrow into the sea. Should this sense be included in an English dictionary? OED does have it.
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Re: Cambridge Greek Lexicon

Postby jeidsath » Mon Nov 28, 2016 3:17 pm

A 2008 pre-print for Fraser's lexigraphical discussion of the new dictionary. Beyond Definition: Organising Semantic Information in Bilingual Dictionaries.

A older 2005 article describing the markup languages.
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Re: Cambridge Greek Lexicon

Postby Timothée » Tue Jan 09, 2018 10:00 pm

Now postponed until 2019. One almost expected that. Well, as long as they do better than the new Berlin airfield, I suppose. :)
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