I learned things I would’ve never thought of learning

by Margie

Margie worked on Johnson’s Dictionary Online while enrolled in LIN 4660 Linguistics and Literature at the University of Central Florida during the Spring 2021 semester.

When I first signed up for this class, I was expecting it to be a boring class, where I had to read the dictionary and then write a paper about what I read and learned about and then learn about this random guy that I’ve never heard about in my life. But it turned out to be one of my most interesting classes this semester, where I got to learn things that I would’ve never learn or even thought of learning, which is pretty cool.  And let me tell you that this random guy is not so random anymore, but one of the coolest and important guy I’ve met.

Who is Samuel Johnson? From what I’ve gathered and learned he was the guy that wrote and monumented the dictionary in England back in the 1800s, just how in the paper “Defining the Worlds Hitching Adventurous” stated: “They document the copious vitality of English and its literature, and Johnson’s spirit—by turns humorous, ethical and perceptive—presides over every page.”  Considering the fact that he wrote and published the most important book in literature, I think that it is worth putting online because it demonstrates history and how it has changed and developed. I think it’s really fascinating how a man took his time to write two editions of English words and the definition plus examples of how the words were used, and I think that it’s important for people to see and use it in today’s world.  Johnson is an important fellow because there is no one like him out there, he was seemed like a lazy person who needed major discipline and perseverance, yet he wrote a dictionary that was used for 150 years. Isn’t that cool? a dictionary used for that long, there’s so much history there and passion!

The work that I  from this class, which I really enjoyed, made me feel like a code master when adding tags to the words that needed it and doing research of the people that were tagged. So for this project the work that we had to is place tags such as persName, placeName, lang ana=”code” and foreign xml:lang=”code” to words that where people, places, words that were naming languages and to foreign words that were from a different country. It took me a while to understand how the facsimile and how the XML worked but with practice and hard work, I was able to understand it, and my professor Dr. Young was of big help, by making it look and sound fun to do. Now we didn’t just randomly start looking for words in the dictionary and decided to put a tag there, we had an assigned letter and once you were finished with the words that started with that specific letter, you were assigned a new one. I was assigned the letters U, V,J and I. It was really interesting to see how many words there was with just those words, I try to use those words today, the ones that really stood out to me and wrote about in my discussion post, which we had to do every week, we had to do at least 100 words and let me tell you there was some interesting ones there like “unguent” which means ointment.

Another way I contributed to this project was by looking up names that I never even knew existed and places that I thought were just made up and place the tags where they belong so that they be seen on the website, so when people would go to the website, they could differentiate places and names and the different languages used. Another thing that was really important to do was to really pay attention to the XML and how it was written because sometimes I had to edit the names or words that didn’t match how Johnson wrote in the dictionary.

The last thing I contributed to this project was by checking the people that were tagged and seeing if they were real people or if they were fictional. The process we had to do was by going to a website where you could look up all the names that were in the dictionary, then using the illustrative quotation where the name was and doing research in either Google QuickBooks or just online in general, then we had to use the Library of Congress for any authority in the name, then we would look them up in Wikipedia. Then we would place a tag in the spreadsheet that was provided to be able to see the progress and what names were being researched along with some notes such as something that was interesting or just marking it yellow to know that it was fictional. In another page we would put all the information that was found, such as their full name that was displayed in the Library of Congress website and the link to it, their birthdays and deaths, and then the Wikipedia link to their biography or any information provided. 

Let me tell you it sounds complicated and not fun, but once you got the hang of it, it’s really fun and relaxing in a way, that once we stopped working on it, I was a little upset because my downtime to relax and listen to music was gone.

While doing this project, I got to learn so much and enjoy helping out in the project. I feel like in a way that this project has been beneficial to me is that I know there is a dictionary out there with a lot of history and culture, and I’m not missing out on it. I think it’s cool that I can share it with my friends as well and see for themselves and for them to be exposed to this dictionary instead of being in the dark and thinking that there is only one in the world but the original is out there and it can be helpful as well. I also think it was beneficial to me because I was able to see the amount of work that was put to make this project come to life and I will be able to appreciate it more than I would. And the biggest thing for sure is the fact that I now know that this dictionary is reliable and can use words that people never heard before and not be wrong and have an expanded vocabulary.