Monthly Archives: November 2013

Oxford Latin dictionary takes 100 years to print

Another very interesting talk at the West Oxford Academy, just up the road from chez moi.

Mark Thakkar was talking about Oxford’s Dictionary of Mediaeval Latin which has just gone to the printers even though the project was started in 1913.

Mark said the project first started at 78 Banbury Road at a place called The Scriptorium.  It was effectively crowd sourced, he said.  The literati were invited to send in quotations and RJ Whitwell (1859-1928) only sent in 30,000 of them.

West Oxford Academy
In 1913 the academics petitioned for “an adequate dictionary of mediaeval Latin”. The period in question was between 500AD to 1500AD and we’ve stuff about the former Osney Abbey, demolished by Henry VIII just down my street in a piece of privatisation called the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Were they dissolute? Certainly they were “dissolved”.

Mark pointed to Osney Abbey. One of the quotations said the pope sent his legate to the kirk and a group of scholars from Oxford University  “started a terrible fight, with a cook pouring boiling oil”. 70 folk were arrested and imprisoned. Several clerics died.

The quotations only relate to English mediaval Latin, and Mark showed that English words were sort of dumped into the Latin.

We then came to the fabulously named Robert Grosseteste (1220) who obviously had the balls to mash up his Latin grammar with some choice, that is to say pithy Anglo-Saxon.

As far as we can tell, the dictionary ends with the letter “s” – funding is a problem, said Mark. But the Packard Foundation – we’re talking an HP heir here, funded the most recent project.

A source close to the Kite tells Volesoft that mediaeval Latin was a very bastardised form of the lingo.  Mark started and finished his talk with this mediaeval picture which sort of tells its own story, doesn’t it?

Mother of invention is alive and well in Oxford

lovehzI took a trip last night to Oxford Hackspace – it’s only three minutes from here across the spooky bridge across the railway line*.

But Oxford Hackspace is a great place to hack  –  to make things, to break things up, to recreate and to mash things about.  The bunch is  really friendly, and have a social night on a Thursday in the Ovada space  – you can fnd directions on its web site. Sewing machines, 3D printers, a fridge full of booze and fun people who are doing things – it’s a place to be if you’re a developer, a builder a techie and an inventor interested in stuff.

These Oxford Hackspace folk have some great things happening there if you’re a geek or even a Mageek. For example, Ben, Lauren  and others are working on – connecting sensors – just check out the pilot project here.  Pretty soon the internet of fangs will be with us.  These folk are inventors – and if you’re of a similar bent, check these people out or join in.

* That bridge could do with a few additional lights, by the way. There’s something about a cemetery at a crossroads with a bridge that isn’t lit very well that gives you a weird feeling.