Dictionary Lab

Head: Prof. Dr. Jörg Wesche
Team: Lydia Doliva, Thomas Haider


The Dictionary Lab at the IfDH conducts research into the use of lexical resources and the optimization of their digital structure. The lab focuses on their practical application and the connected methodology. Therefore it acts as the counterpart to the Göttingen Digitisation Centre of the SUB, with which it cooperates closely.

In our case, the term „dictionary“ is used in a broard sense. It includes traditional dictionaries, encyclopaedias and lexicons from different time periods and domains, such as those provided digitally by the "Wörterbuchnetz" of the University of Trier. Furthermore, normdata, terminological databases, word lists, word maps and linguistic atlases are also being processed in the Dictionary Lab. Resources like these have proven to be very useful in a historical approach to the field of literature.

On the one hand, we work with existing dictionaries, such as the Grimm’s Dictionary, the main focus being retro-digitisation. On the other hand, we conceptualise the „digital dictionary“ and its structures as a new type of medium, whilst designing and creating our own dictionaries.

For example, Prof. Wesche issues the "Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online". He and his team are also setting up a wiki base, which intends to compile the results of two DFG-funded research projects on Baroque poetics and make them accessible to the scientific community. The key to this is Linked Open Data in the form of norm data. Norm data does not only make it possible to identify distinct entities such as people, places or works, but also to enrich them with additional information. It can be kept in a separate database, so that users of other resources can approach them easily. This also enables the researcher to access other related sources, such as archives.

Finally, the Dictionary Lab is also working on the large field of ontologies. From a computer science perspective, this field offers an enticing challenge. The philological concepts and their vocabulary are often partically ambiguous and fuzzy due to the data itself and their development through the centuries. Digital methods, however, require precise definitions and categories.


You can find more information about the Lab's activities here.