of the Welsh Language
Historical background and description
Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru is the first standard historical Welsh dictionary, broadly comparable in method and scope with the Oxford English Dictionary, but midway in format between that dictionary and the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. It presents in alphabetical order the vocabulary of the Welsh language from the remnants of Old Welsh, through the abundant literature of the Medieval and Modern periods, to the explosion of vocabulary arising from the ever-increasing use of the language in all fields of twentieth- and twenty-first-century life. This vocabulary is defined in Welsh, but English equivalents are also given. Detailed attention is given to variant forms, common collocations, and etymology. The work is based upon a collection of some two million citation slips, amassed by voluntary readers as well as members of the Dictionary staff and still being added to .
A reading program was established in 1921 as the first research project of the University of Wales Board of Celtic Studies at the National Library of Wales with a small team of salaried staff and the Rev. J. Bodvan Anwyl as Secretary, who organized a host of voluntary readers. Editorial work commenced during the 1948/9 session under the editorship of R. J. Thomas, and the Dictionary was published in 64-page parts. By 1967 Parts 1-21 had been published and these were bound as Volume I (a-ffysur). Between 1968 and 1987 Parts 22-36 (g-llyys) were published and were bound in 1987 as Volume II, under the editorship of Gareth A. Bevan. Between 1987 and 1998 Parts 37-50 (m-rhywyr) were published and were bound in 1998 as Volume III, under the joint editorship of Gareth A. Bevan and Patrick J. Donovan. On 6 December 2001 the final draft entry for the Dictionary was written after 80 years' labour, and over half a century of drafting entries. The last word in the Dictionary is Zwinglïaidd, 'Zwinglian (adj.)'. The final volume was published in December 2002 and launched at the Welsh Assembly by the First Minister, Rhodri Morgan, A.M.
The Dictionary contains a total of 7.3 million words of running text in 3,949 pages, forming four substantial volumes arranged under more than 105,000 headwords. There are almost 350,000 dated citations exemplifying the use of the words from the year 631 to 2002, with over 320,000 Welsh definitions and 290,000 English synonyms.
The Dictionary staff have been responsible for typesetting the Dictionary since the end of Part 36, using microcomputers and a specially developed set of programs written in-house. Some of the features introduced as by-products of the typesetting process have improved the quality of the Dictionary, facilitated certain aspects of the editorial process, and given the Dictionary staff far better control over each stage in its production. Particularly noteworthy features are the ability to compare each citation with the corresponding entry in a computer-readable bibliography, and the division of the Dictionary text into numbered fields of information. This will facilitate the conversion of what is essentially free text into a database with a minimum of editing, when the time comes to produce other dictionaries based upon the same data. Over a period of ten years Parts 1-36 were entered into the electronic database, in preparation for this. There are six members on the editorial staff, a Technical Officer, a part-time Editorial Consultant and a part-time Editorial Assistant. The work is supervised by an Editorial Panel and the Dictionary also benefits from contributions from past and present University of Wales professors of Welsh and also a number of volunteer proof-readers and outside contributors.
The staff have completed re-editing the letter A and are currently working on the letter B. Re-editing commenced in January 2002. The work is being published in 64-page parts and a Web-based version of the whole Dictionary is being prepared (but without the citations and some other features). It is hoped to publish a complete version of the Dictionary online. Since Welsh is very much a living language, the Dictionary will need constant revision by adding new words and meanings and all contributions will be greatly appreciated.
The Board of Celtic Studies was dissolved on 1 September 2007 and the Dictionary joined the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies, an institution with which it has shared accommodation since 1993 alongside the National Library of Wales, where access is freely given to the unparalleled collection of Welsh material.
In 2008, following the retirement of the two Co-Editors, Gareth A. Bevan and Patrick J. Donovan, the staffing plan was restructured. Mr Andrew Hawke was appointed as Managing Editor and Dr Manon Roberts and Dr Angharad Fychan were promoted to the post of Senior Editor.
"Short-term projects are like stones, long-term projects are like jewels - and there are few jewels and many stones in this world." -- Fr. Roberto Busa
"Lexicography is a species of writing,
for which, to insure success, peculiar talents are requisite; such as, closeness
of attention, indefatigable industry, a discriminating judgement, invincible
patience, &c. - The toil required in the execution is immense" -- John
Walters, An English-Welsh dictionary, 1794, vii.