The Dictionary Society of North America

Sometimes the cart comes before the horse. I was working away at something the other day when the email pinged. Could the Dictionary Society of North America please have a photo of me for their newsletter? I’m always delighted – of course – to oblige any such request, but I was puzzled, as I thought I’d been fairly quiet on the dictionary front recently. It turned out, as I read on, that I’d been elected a Fellow of the Society. That’s terrific, and I’m both honoured and honored. Their original letter informing me of my nomination and election must have gone adrift, which makes you wonder what else you miss …

EFNIL Conference in Helsinki

Just back from Helsinki where (alongside Tony Jones of the British Council) I represented the UK at the annual conference of EFNIL, the European Federation for National Institutions for Language. I’d like to say we reached the semi-finals, but that’s not how it’s organised.

John with Johan Van Hoorde - EFNIL conference dinner Oct 2012
With Johan Van Hoorde at the 2012 Conference

The conference theme was “plain language” (as opposed to gobbledegook). What is fascinating about these conferences is hearing how each of the member states of the EU is addressing these linguistic – and political – questions. We were all pulling together, for once.

Roll on next year’s meeting.

Update from Pittville History Works – October 2015

Mapping Pittville
The Cheltenham Old Town Survey (1855-7) is a detailed large-scale map of Cheltenham, and we’ve now integrated the Pittville section into the History Works data. This means that you can find the location on the map of any house included in the database and, in addition, you have the option of seeing plotted on the map the results of any database search you run. This is exciting new functionality for the site, and we would like to thank Cheltenham Local History Society, Gloucestershire Archives, and Cheltenham Borough Council for allowing us to use these maps.
Read more about the Pittville map and to try your own searches under the Advanced Search tab (not optimised for tablets). Here are the results of searching for clergy families at the time of the 1861 census

New icons to look out for on the web site
We’ve introduced three new icons on the web site. When you click on them you’ll be taken through to further relevant information.
The house icon leads you through to more information about the Pittville house it relates to.
The map icon shows you the location of your house etc on the large-scale Cheltenham Old Town Survey of 1855-7.
The manuscript icon shows you census returns without the standardised data sometimes used in searches.
There are several of these new icons on the Pittville Lives page.

Transcribing Clarence Square
We’ve almost finished transcribing the census booklets for Clarence Square (1841-1901). Numbers 1-25 are already on the web site, and we have about six more houses on the north side to complete. No 19 was home in 1851 to the family of Charles Gardener, a banker’s cashier (a senior post in the bank), born in Cainscross near Stroud.

Links to the Pittville entries in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
The ODNB has kindly permitted us to link through to their entries for Pittville people. So you can read the biographies of, for example, Sir James Agg-Gardner (brewer and politician), George Cameron (East India Company army), Sybil ‘Queenie’ Newall (champion archer and Olympic medallist), and about ten other people. The links can be found on our Pittville Lives page.

Update from James Joyce Online Notes – September 2015

The JJON web site has been updated with the text of the latest issue, which contains seventeen articles as well as links to many of the (pre-Ulysses) texts in Joyce’s Paris library.

Harald Beck publishes details of a previously unknown correspondence between Joyce and the sculptor August Suter, to which access has been generously granted by the sculptor’s grandsons.

In the Ithaca episode Joyce describes Bloom in the style of a Dublin lost-dog advert. But the text was actually based on a curious and real advertisement run in the Dublin papers in 1902 – see A missing gent answering to the name of Bloom for the details. A comparable article identifies the source of Joyce’s horror headline A child bit by a bellows in Aeolus.

Bob Janusko examines the origins of Hamlet’s sledded poleaxe, and further articles explore brown-paper suits, a death at the Queen’s Hotel, Ennis (“where Rudolph Bloom … died”), and the variable price of Abram coal.