Letter from the Editor of LEME
Today our host the University of Toronto Library, our publisher the University of Toronto Press, and myself as Editor release the second edition of the LEME website. It hopes to meet expectations that advancing standards and technology have created in the past twelve years. Programming for the new software has been donated by the University of Toronto Library and carried out by its IT staff. For over thirty years, the University of Toronto and two Canadian research agencies -- the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), and the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) – have funded LEME. Libraries, institutions, and individuals worldwide have also supported us through their licensing fees and with donations of texts. We owe LEME to their encouragement.
What would become LEME was born in 1986 at the Centre for Computing in the Humanities at Toronto, of which I was founding director, in a cooperative between the University and IBM Canada Ltd. The Early Modern English Dictionaries Database (EMEDD) was first published online at Toronto in 1996. It led to LEME's first edition (2006), which had 500,000 word-entries in 150 texts, a project sponsored by TAPoR, a multi-institution Canadian digital humanities partnership. Today LEME has grown to over one million word-entries in more than 250 texts. It has expanded its coverage to 1755, the year that Samuel Johnson and Joseph Nicol Scott published their great dictionaries.
LEME will now be releasing free plain-text copies of its lexical texts. Later, LEME's encoded texts will follow in a corpus written in two XML languages, that of our online mySQL database, and that of the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) P5 guidelines.
We are releasing the LEME database and its texts under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence -- CC by 4.0 . This is the most open license, allowing use, adaptations, and re-use by anyone and requiring only that users give credit if they use work from LEME. We have in mind the example of EEBO/TCP at the University of Michigan. Out-of-copyright texts whose transcriptions are funded by research agencies should be readily usable. And because LEME and its staff are dedicated largely to English studies, only researchers in Classics, Dutch, French, Italian, Spanish, and other language disciplines can analyze the non-English part of LEME’s bilingual and polyglot texts. Third, although LEME is a general-purpose tool, we realize that researchers may wish to work on lexical texts with their own specialized technology. Finally, we hope that LEME will one day help rekindle the Early Modern English period dictionary project begun at the University of Michigan Library.
I have many persons to thank over the past 42 years of my dictionary work (see under the People item in the Help menu for an incomplete list). LEME is not one person's editorial achievement. It is deeply indebted to my university's undergraduate and graduate students who took on casual and Work-Study positions with me, and to four faculty members here: in French studies, to both Russon Wooldridge and the late Brian Merrilees, who helped me, then a novice, to enter historical lexicography; to Sian Meikle, now Director of Library IT at Toronto, who had my back in major digital projects for 24 years; and to another researcher in the English Middle Ages and Renaissance, Anne Begor Lancashire, to whom I dedicate my part of the labours of LEME. She has been my scholarly mentor, helpmate, and best friend for fifty years.
Ian Lancashire / Toronto / 9 October 2018