a-dancing and a-singing

A. Katz amnfn at well.com
Sat Jun 6 14:43:51 UTC 2009


Is the OED free through the Hunt Library online to those not affiliated?

I was wondering whether it might be a legitimate undertaking to form a 
sort of information co-op between those of us on Funknet who have 
institutional affiliations -- and hence free access to all sorts of books, 
resources and manuscripts -- and those who do not.

In that context, if someone wished to look up a word in the OED, then they 
might ask someone who had access to do so. If someone without interlibrary 
loan privileges needed to have access to a certain page of a book, then 
someone with those privileges might provide a link...

I'm sure this could be done without violating copyright, as it would not 
involve copying anything more than a minute portion of the information in 
any copyrighted work -- the same amount of information that we are allowed 
to quote in our articles without infringing on copyright.


On Sat, 6 Jun 2009, Paul Hopper wrote:

> Brian,
> The OED has been available free through your own Hunt Library at CMU for
> years. I use it frequently.
> Paul
> On Sat, June 6, 2009 7:49 am, Brian MacWhinney wrote:
>> Dear Funknetters,
>> Thanks to all of you (Andrew Pawley, Aya Katz, Chris Cléirigh, Larry
>> Gorbet, Martin Haspelmath, Dan Slobin, Östen Dahl, Tom Givon, Muriel
>> Norde, Eve Sweetser, and Suzanne Kemmer) for clarifying this
>> construction.  De Groot shows clearly that the source of this particular
>> form is “on/an” rather than “at”.   Reading this and related comments in
>> FunkNet letters reminded me of my son’s favorite
>> phrases when I nag him about something.  It is “Dad, I’m on it.”  I don’t
>> know if this is a Pittsburgh (Appalachian) remnant of the king being out
>> “on hunting” or not, and I am not sure I would use the term
>> absentive for this, but I can definitely can see the conceptual link
>> between this use of the locative “on” and the progressive. It appears that
>> this link has worked for others across the last millennium or so and
>> continues to work even more productively in Dutch and German.
>> In terms of how to treat this in tagger/parser technology, I think it
>> better to treat this as a preposition, rather than a prefix.  Treating it
>> like a prefix would require transcribers to actually join it to the verb.
>> If, on the other hand, the tagger finds a rather unique subtype
>> of preposition before a present participle, it will surely know not to
>> treat it as an article.  At least, the tagger will know this if we can put
>> a few such examples into its training set.
>> Tom politely pointed out to me that I could have just checked the
>> OED.  However, the library here in Kolding is very small, so I didn’t
>> even try that.  But, then it occurred to me that maybe the OED has gone
>> online.  So, I checked and indeed it is now online at dictionary.oed.com.
>> My goodness, what a remarkably rich resource!
>> There are, in fact six listings for “a-“ as prefix and two for “a” as
>> preposition.  The one we have been discussing is a- prefix 2.  There are
>> others coming from “of” and “at”, as well as lots of other related forms,
>> all sharing the common reduction to “a”.  The online OED is particularly
>> nice because you can follow all the hot links directly. So, I was
>> a-thinking to myself, how could Oxford University Press make this freely
>> available in this way?  Then, I read the little message down at the bottom
>> of the screen that said “Subscriber: University of Southern Denmark” and I
>> have to now take back what I said about the SDU Library.  They, Oxford,
>> and my FunkNet colleagues have certainly been a great help to me in seeing
>> the scope of this remarkable form and its relatives.
>> -- Brian MacWhinney
> -- 
> Prof. Dr. Paul J. Hopper
> Senior Fellow
> Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies
> Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
> Albertstr. 19
> D-79104 Freiburg
> and
> Paul Mellon Distinguished Professor of Humanities
> Department of English
> Carnegie Mellon University
> Pittsburgh, PA 15213

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