The Dictionary of the Welsh Language goes online

Posted on 26 June 2014
Geiriadur Arlein

Professor Dafydd Johnston, Jens Erlandsen, Andrew Hawke, Rt Hon Carwyn Jones AM, Professor Medwin Hughes, Meri Huws and Alun Thomas

This morning saw the launch of an online version of The Dictionary of the Welsh Language (Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru) by the Right Honourable Carwyn Jones AM, First Minister of Wales.

During the event, held at the Senedd, a presentation on using the online dictionary by the editor Andrew Hawke showed how users will have instant access to find out the meaning of the word or a phrase, and see straight away the gender of a word, its plural forms, its definition, which other words mean the same, and much more.

Speaking at the launch, the First Minister said:

“This online version is a huge step forward in the history of the Dictionary. It will enable people to get hold of information quickly and easily, using modern technology.

“I congratulate Dictionary of Wales staff on the excellent work they have done to produce this online version. It’s an excellent resource which will support the growth of the language over the years ahead.”

The Dictionary of the Welsh Language (GPC) is the only standard historical dictionary of Welsh. It is broadly comparable in method and scope to the Oxford English Dictionary. It presents the vocabulary of the Welsh language from the earliest Old Welsh texts to the everyday language of today. It notes the date of the earliest occurrence of every word with examples throughout the centuries, often noting how the meaning of the word has changed. In the online version the user can see a word’s derivation, a Welsh definition and English synonyms as well as historical examples. It is also possible to search for English words.

A reading programme for the Dictionary was established in 1921 as the first research project of the University of Wales Board of Celtic Studies. Almost two million citation slips were collected which would serve as the basis for the Dictionary. Editorial work began in 1948 and in 1967 the first volume of the Dictionary (a–ffysur) appeared. The last of the four volumes (s–Zwinglïaidd) was published in 2002 and since then the editorial team, working in the Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies in Aberystwyth, have been re-editing the Dictionary and have published twelve sections of the Second Edition (a–brig).

In 2006 the Dictionary was listed in a publication by Universities UK as one of the “hundred discoveries and developments in UK universities that have changed the world in the last fifty years” – one of only ten projects in the arts.

Professor Medwin Hughes, Vice-chancellor of the University of Wales said of the launch event:

“Today is a very important milestone in the history of the Dictionary – the University of Wales is extremely proud that all the riches of the Dictionary are now online and are available free of charge to users.”

Meri Huws, Welsh Language Commissioner, who has a coordinating role in Welsh lexicography and in giving a strategic direction to the work, added:

“As technology becomes increasingly important in the way we live and work, the dictionary world needs to change and evolve. GPC Online will enable users – whether they are translators, academics, students, people working in organizations or ordinary readers - to get hold of information on Welsh words easily and quickly.”

The Dictionary’s influence through social media has increased continuously during the last few months. Every day a ‘word of the day’ is tweeted and the number of followers is now over fifteen hundred. Over a thousand people follow the Dictionary on Facebook.

It has been the intention for some time that the Dictionary should go online but it has been a long process as it was necessary to encode all the Dictionary data – around eight million words in all!

“It’s great to see that all that has finally been done,” said Andrew Hawke, the Dictionary’s Managing Editor. “It’s wonderful to be able to add new words as the need arises instead of having to work in alphabetical order. We will also be able to amend old entries immediately.”

Words such as ‘cyfrifiadur (computer)’, ‘carafanio (caravaning)’, ‘clustffon (headphone)’, ‘cymuned (community)’, and ‘cyfathrebu (communication)’ have already been added.

Follow @geiriadur on Twitter (https://twitter.com/geiriadur) a Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/geiriadur.prifysgolcymru)

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