Night Watches on the Computer: Creating an Author’s Dictionary with Computational Means


Creating a dictionary is a complex and time-consuming undertaking. Fortunately, these days lexicographers can rely on computational means to support their intentions. This article draws attention to a particular lexicographical project, a so-called author’s dictionary. The corpus consists of a German novel of the early nineteenth century, Nachtwachen von Bonaventura (‘Night Watches of Bonaventura’) by August Klingemann. As the book was published under the pseudonym Bonaventura, which remained unmasked until 1987, it has always been a valuable source for literary and linguistic research. Especially, linguists developed an interest in computer-based analysis of the text in order to find patterns of style and expression to approach the unknown author and the concept of an idiolectal fingerprint. Hence, the word material appeared to be a promising corpus for a dictionary project. Being processed electronically from the outset, this article explains the steps of how to convert a literary text into the format of a dictionary. Thereby, usage and potential of author’s lexicography are explained and insights into the problems to be solved are given.

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