Towards a Second Edition

The Thesaurus team are currently working on updating the Thesaurus to its second edition. The first edition is largely based on the second edition of the OED (1989) and its supplements, and there are close links between the OED and Historical Thesaurus staff. Since 1990, work has been underway to update the OED to a third edition (presently online only). This rigorous revision has dramatically improved the dating of entries, led to re-evaluation of word sub-senses, and inducted many new words into the dictionary. The results of this process are also of great value to improving the Thesaurus’ data, and the team are working with the OED to incorporate the updated information into the Thesaurus, forming the core of the second edition improvements. Revision of the OED is an ongoing process and the same will therefore be true of the second edition of the Thesaurus, with periodic updates to our data reflecting those made to the dictionary.

Alongside the data updates, the second edition’s expanded visualization section will allow users to view changes in the size of categories across their lifespans. Users will also be able to limit their results to select categories which display particular patterns of growth or contraction such as bursts, slumps, peaks, and troughs of activity. An experimental version of this feature is available now, with further refinement and greater functionality to be implemented in the second half of 2017.

Additionally, the second edition will incorporate sections of improved semantic categorization resulting from research undertaken by students and staff working on the Thesaurus at the University of Glasgow, especially where an influx of new words or senses has required more detailed classification in a particular area of the hierarchy.

The launch of the second online edition of the Historical Thesaurus is expected to take place in early autumn 2017, with succeeding updates in train with the OED, ensuring that we accurately represent cutting-edge knowledge of the history of English. Our estimates roughly indicate that the first release of second edition material will mean 35% of our entries will have been re-dated with new evidence, 40% of the hierarchy will have been revised, and 20,000 new words added.

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