New format of OED Online; finding keys

Mark Mandel thnidu at GMAIL.COM
Wed Dec 22 19:26:21 UTC 2010

(Apologies if this has already been discussed here; I have quite a backlog
of unread entries on this list.)

It wasn't easy to find the table of symbols, in order to confirm that the
obelus means "obsolete" and not "archaic" or "obsolescent". The path seems
to be

1 See † used in an entry.
2 Go to the top of the page to find "Help" and click on it.
3 That takes you to a page headed "The entry display". Search for "symbol".
4 See "Help" at the top of that page and click on it.
5 This page says "Help" at the top, and under it

>   Welcome

  • Using the Help

  • Other resources

6 Clicking on either "Using the help" or "Other resources" expands both of
them. The latter includes links for

> • What is the OED Online? Take a tour

• *Key to symbols and other conventions used in the OED*

• Key to the pronunciation

• Abbreviations used in OED Online

• Glossary of terms used in OED Online

• Learning resources

• Lookup tools: add a link to the OED to your browser's Search menu, or a
> shortcut to the OED from another page

The second of these is what you were (I was) looking for.

It very much seems to me that at least the second through fifth of these
resources *should have quick links from the entry pages:*

   - Symbols
   - Pronunciation key
   - Abbreviations
   - Terms

The other items are general resources that are either useful or necessary to
the user overall, but not specifically relevant to the any entry. But if you
are reading an entry and come across an unfamiliar symbol (whether in the
text, pronunciation, or elsewhere), abbreviation, or term, you don't want to
be diverted three pages away to find out what it means.

A friend asked me "Why the comma in 'God rest ye merry, gentlemen?'. The
entry for "rest, v.1", showing the full entry but hiding all the quotations
and the full etymology and list of forms, using the smaller of the two text
sizes available, fills twelve screens in my view, i.e., eleven page-scrolls
from top to bottom; Phrases 3b "God rest you merry" and 3a "rest you merry"
are on about #8 and #9. After the first scroll, the right-hand third of the
screen is empty. *Would it not be possible* to put a list of these links at
the bottom of the content of the right-hand column and have it float with
the scroll so as to be always visible? IMHO *it would be extremely useful*.

Mark A. Mandel
Linguistic Data Consortium

The American Dialect Society -

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