SPEED (Spoken English in Early Dialects) (2006 - 2010)



This FWF project, which was started in July 2006, aimed to produce a first online version of Joseph Wright's English Dialect Dictionary (1898 - 1905), a lexicographic milestone in six volumes that focuses on English dialect terms as used in the 18th and 19th centuries. In addition, the project was concerned with the philological investigation of the dictionary. 100 years after its first publication, Wright's EDD remains the most comprehensive and reliable work on this topic, even surpassing the famous Oxford English Dictionary (OED) in its treatment of dialectal forms. The digitisation of the OED has shown the great potential of electronic reference works, with sophisticated search engines allowing for the instant retrieval of the formal and semantic aspects of lexemes and of complex lexical combinations that could not possibly be retrieved manually.

Research implications

The linguistic evaluation of the electronic EDD has above all concerned the fields of Historical English, Spoken English and English Dialectology, all somewhat neglected study areas which can greatly benefit from the immense amount of data to be retrieved from an electronic version of the EDD. Within these fields our scholarly investigations have been concentrated on topics such as phraseology, idiomaticity, popular formal features such as rhyme and alliteration, preferred syllable structures in dialect words, suprasegmentals, sociolinguistic patterns as well as questions of metaphor, deixis, mapping techniques and various other features of the spoken language and culture. We have published of a significant number of articles, monographs and dissertations and organised an international conference in Innsbruck in 2009.


The initial stage of our project was dedicated to the technical challenges of digitising Wright's EDD. Our collaboration with computer experts from the University of Innsbruck resulted in the compilation of a highly advanced electronic database that can be searched for any information the dictionary includes, of course also allowing the combination of various search parameters. This multi-level accessibility of the EDD is also most important for the unavoidable task of proofreading, which will keep us busy for the foreseeable future. The work on the electronic version of Joseph Wright's EDD will be continued in the FWF follow-up project EDD Online.


As of April 2016, the beta version of the electronic EDD (SPEED) is no longer available.

Instead, please use the follow-up project EDD Online.

Project-related information:


Conference activity

International cooperation

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