Humanities Collections and Reference Resources
National Endowment for the Humanities
The Middle English Compendium Reborn:
Expanding Content, Improving Access, and Stabilizing Technology
The Middle English Compendium (MEC) is the collective name under which the University of Michigan hosts three interlinked but distinct digital resources: the Middle English Dictionary in electronic form (eMED), an expanded version of the bibliography of primary sources cited by the Dictionary (known as the HyperBibliography of Middle English = HB), and a substantial corpus of primary texts in Middle English (known as the Corpus of Middle English = CME).
Revisions currently under way (2016-18), funded in part by a grant issued under the Humanities Collections and Reference Resources program at the National Endowment for the Humanities, are designed to achieve three main goals:
- Enlarging and updating the content of all three components, incorporating in part materials already prepared for that purpose, but also collecting and including additional material published since the MED ceased publication. These additions consist of the 20,000 "Supplement slips" set aside by MED staff over the years; 150 new primary texts to be included in the CME; and a body of corrections, of indeterminate size, published or noticed, during the past twenty years since the MED deliberately stopped attending to new developments.
- Making the content, especially of the MED, more readily and more completely human- and machine-readable, partly by making explicit some information hidden in the reticence and compactness of the original print dictionary; and partly by actually adding information. These enhancements will improve search results; allow for new kinds of searches (e.g. lookup by modern English equivalent), but will also allow the data to be 'opened up' for reuse by other products and projects, thus fulfilling the vision that we always had for the MEC as a node in a network of historical dictionaries, electronic editions, text portals, and other linguistic resources.
- Transforming the Compendium from an essentially static resource to an essentially dynamic one, in two respects,
- Editorially, we have added the ability to accept, store, and publish additions and corrections, while distinguishing them from the original MED and according them a staged reception, ranging from bare acknowledgment to full integration;
- Technically, we are preparing for the migration of the Compendium data to new platforms (to avoid technical obsolescence) and new functionality (e.g. as data to be drawn on by other projects).
The current effort is directed particularly to content improvements (corrections, revisions, expansions, clarifications), but its context is a larger library-wide platform migration, as well as increasing numbers of requests from external projects that would like to 'leverage' MEC data for their own purposes, whether by incorporating MEC data or by pulling from it.
Return to the MEC main page