A Dictionary of Old Norse Prose
A Dictionary of Old Norse Prose (ONP) is a historical dictionary of the prose language of medieval Norway (up to c. 1370) and Iceland (up to c. 1540). It will eventually define every Old Norse word in both Danish and English. ONP is funded by the Arnamagnæan Commission.
The dictionary in numbers
The dictionary consists of around 65,000 headwords and 840,000 citations. As of March 2019, around 30,000 of these headwords have been edited and 500,000 citations defined and/or structured. There are around 60,000 senses identified, with 16,000 having both English and Danish definitions (mainly words starting A-E), 15,000 in Danish only, 1,000 in English only and 28,000 without definitions (mainly verbs).
The dictionary also includes a catalogue of almost 5,000 independent manuscripts with prose contents and a bibliography of almost 5,000 items. Every citation in the dictionary is linked to the primary manuscript from which it originally derives.
Work on the dictionary started in 1939 and for the first 40 years the project's limited staff was principally engaged in an excerpting of the corpus with the intent to replace the two major previous dictionaries from the nineteenth century, Johan Fritzner, Ordbog over Det gamle norske Sprog (Kristiania, 1886-1896) and Richard Cleasby & Gudbrand Vigfusson, An Icelandic-English Dictionary (Oxford, 1874, 2. rev. ed. 1957).
The excerpting was selective. Each text was read by two editors who marked items for which slips were subsequently written out by assistants.
In 1983 a prospectus was published and this was followed in 1989 by the volume of indices, which, as a survey of the dictionary's corpus, also forms an independent handbook to the study of Old Norse: Ordbog over det norrøne prosasprog: Registre (A Dictionary of Old Norse Prose: Indices) Copenhagen, 1989. The first volume of the dictionary proper appeared in 1995: Ordbog over det norrøne prosasprog 1: a - bam (A Dictionary of Old Norse Prose 1: a - bam) Copenhagen, 1995, the second, ban - da in 2000 and the third, de - em in 2004.
In 2005 the Arnamagnæan Commission took a new decision concerning ONP's lexicographical activities. The print edition was put on hold but thanks to a generous extra grant from the Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, three years were spent making all of the dictionary material, including unpublished citations, available on the Internet. In connection with this all the citation slips (from ‘h’ to the end of the alphabet) were scanned and linked with a relevant headword as well as images of the printed page of the scholarly text edition from which each citation was excerpted, thus providing a broader context than the slips themselves. In 2010 this material was made available on the internet as ONP Online.
Since the launch of ONP Online the dictionary has continued to evolve with the publication of edited dictionary entries and the addition of a variety of features. The editing process is somewhat different than for the print edition. Rather than following the alphabetical order of headwords the work is centered on specific word classes. From 2010-2016 the focus was on simplex nouns, verbs and prepositions. Nouns have been fully edited but verbs and prepositions have been structured formally and do not yet contain any definitions. More recently the focus has been on simplex adjectives (finished in March 2019), adverbs and pronouns.
In 2019 the dictionary has developed a new web application, publishing new articles directly from ONP’s database instead of biannual updates. The new web application also includes a variety of new and innovative features.
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