Part of the reason for developing our (now not so new) website earlier this year was a real desire to engage with the whole community and communicate our work to academia and to the wider world. We are conscious that our work may seem obscure and of interest and use only to a small group of people; however, we firmly believe that this is far from the truth. When they hear about us many people find what we do to be fascinating even if the result is not directly useful to them, and our work is in any case useful to a wider constituency that many would think. What is more, we know that even many of those who would find our work directly relevant to them are not aware of us. Our work not only is concerned with the medieval world, its history and culture, but also raises linguistic questions and, in recent years, technological matters too. Thus we have something to say to not only the medievalist but also those interested in semantics, language contact, lexicography, the history of dictionaries, digital humanities, and more.
Describing what we do and providing information about our work online is one important way for us to reach an audience, but it is not the only way of engaging with others. It has therefore been a pleasure to give talks about aspects of the DMLBS to two very different audiences over the last few days.
First last Friday in Keble College here in Oxford, I spoke about the project and our work in the lecture series of the Medieval and Renaissance Cluster of the college’s Advanced Studies Centre, which attracted a wonderfully diverse audience including not only other lexicographers and medievalists but also several people with no particular background in any of the areas in which we work.
Then last Tuesday at Eton College I gave a presentation to their Classical society about Medieval Latin and the DMLBS, among other things showing that after the Classical era the Latin language not only survived but indeed flourished in the medieval world, and talking about the project and what we do.
Preparing in both cases to talk to non-specialist audiences I was struck by the array of areas of our work I found myself having to choose among to present, and in the time available it was scarcely possible to give more than a sense of this fascinating range to the audience on each occasion. However, it did seem to me that this means there are many more possible audiences out there for us to engage with: so, though our primary work of preparing the dictionary must take precedence, we would welcome opportunities to talk to those who might be interested in any aspect of our work, whether they be, say, school pupils studying medieval history, classics, English or other modern languages, members of local history societies, and so on. If this would be of interest to a group you know of, why not get in touch?