As I’ve told you before, I use the site all the time. I thought I’d tell you here about a couple of particular uses.
I’m involved in a group that is translating Genesis A. We have been working on the project for about two years now, and are currently finalizing our third draft. When your site launched, it completely changed the way we work. In the group, which has ranged in size from 4 to 7 people over the past few years, we each have various responsibilities both during our meetings times and outside the meetings. One of my duties is to have on hand the Bosworth-Toller Anglo-Saxon Dictionary to look up words when there is a disagreement or when we want to refine a passage (another group member has another dictionary). Prior to the launch of your dictionary, I would use a hard copy. Obviously, it would take considerable time to look up words, and I therefore did not look up as many words as I would have liked. When your site launched, however, I immediately started bringing my laptop the meetings. I now look up at least one word per line while we are working. Additionally, the advanced features allow searches that would have been impossible or at least very time consuming with the hard copy. For example, we might be thinking what other Old English word the poet might have used in place of the word chosen, and we are with the advanced search able to quickly find other words with similar meanings. Also, when we are looking at word usage to decide on the best translation in a particular context, we can use your dictionary to find easily all compounds which contain that word.
Your dictionary has also radically changed the way I work on my own. In the past, when translating from an edition, my primary source for looking up words had been the glossary of that edition, primarily because it would be more efficient to look up words there than in an external dictionary. The problem with this practice is that the translation, then, is perhaps too skewed toward the inclinations of the editor. This online dictionary, however, actually makes using an outside dictionary more efficient than a glossary. (Glossaries, of course, remain useful resources for identify nuances of words in context.) So, not only do I use your edition when I am working with the translation group, but also when I am preparing for our meetings and when I am translating other materials.
I suspect here that I am only scratching the surface for the use of this online dictionary. And, to be honest, my favorite way of using it is rather silly: looking up words to make Facebook posts in Old English and to translate friends’ responses!
Let me close with one suggestion. Within the entries, there are references to the name of the work and the line number where the word appears according to the usage in question. I often have trouble figuring out what the abbreviations stand for, however. It seems to me that an advantage of a digital edition is that you don’t have a space concern; so, it would be more possible to avoid abbreviations all together. In any case, I haven’t found a key for the abbreviations, so a link to one, at minimum, would be appreciated. And (I know this suggests a long-term project) it would be great if eventually all references could be put into a database such that would could click on the name of a particular work and find all references to that work in the dictionary.
So, to sum up, this site is nothing short of revolutionary to the field of Old English; it will change the way the language is studied and Old English works are translated.
Douglas Ryan VanBenthuysen
The University of New Mexico