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November 2003 - Nr. 11


The Editor
Von Muskelprotz...
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German Pioneers Day
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Dick reports...
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Ham Se det jehört?
2003 Radweltmeisterschaften
Music-Land Germany
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Luther's Home Searched
Grimm's Dictionary
Berlin's Worth
Economy to get stronger
Financial Advice
Newton Donates Works
No Growth w/o Reforms
Read Out Loud
New Waterway
VW Designer

Brothers Grimm Dictionary
goes online

  TWIG - In a foreword to one of the first German-language dictionaries, Jacob Grimm said he wanted to "establish a shrine to the language, preserve its entire treasure, and hold the entrance to it open for everyone."

A digital version of the dictionary first compiled by the famous Brothers Grimm just went online, bringing an important historical piece of German etymology to the internet — and taking a big step forward towards fulfilling the brothers’ wish that all of Germany have access to their work.

The undertaking also sheds light on an important piece of the life work of Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm, the brothers best known for collecting German fairy tales in the 19th century.

Since November 1998, the Brothers Grimm dictionary project — sponsored by the German Research Foundation (DFG) — has been meticulously creating a digital version of the Grimm’s famous German dictionary.

Called an "epoch-making achievement in historical lexicography," the dictionary was compiled by innumerable linguists over the course of over a century. The dictionary’s 32nd volume came out in 1961, followed a decade later by the bibliography. The first paperback edition of the work was published in 1984 "for home use," at a whopping prize of €500.

Critics have noted the work’s inconsistency and the uneven quality of its entries, but most German linguists agree that the dictionary is one of the most important cultural documents in German history. The massive work contains 331,056 entries and 67,744 dictionary columns.

A group headed by Kurt Gaertner at the University of Trier is doing their part in helping Jacob Grimm’s project to achieve its noble aim — as a reference work for the everyman. Besides the online version, they expect to have a CD-Rom version ready in time to hit stores by spring, 2004.

The monumental task of realizing this project is rendered even more meaningful by the technical limitations confronted by the group. Two groups of typists in Nanking, China, have been keying in the entries since the project’s inception in 1998.

Having non-Germans do the "finger-work" was necessary due to the obsolescence of many words in the original text and native German speaker’s tendency to unconsciously "correct" spelling mistakes perceived in the entries. Two versions of the same text were then mailed to the center, where they underwent a rigorous editing process that promises accuracy to the mammoth original up to 0.03 %.

The online dictionary will be indispensable for future scholarship and lexicographical research.



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