New Feature

A foray into the indecipherable, neglected, uncommon or forgotten words found in the documents of the Yale Indian Papers Project




During the course of transcription, editors are faced with a number of challenges, most of which center around the legibility of the text.    But add to this a lack of spelling conventions.  The result is countless hours spent trying to capture, not only the meaning of a particular document but also an accurate rendering of the text, one that is faithful to the original but readable.  Messy handwriting and creative spelling aside, the identification of otherwise neglected, uncommon and forgotten words offers yet another challenge to the editorial staff.

Hurly-burly is a feature devoted to bringing to light the interesting world of indecipherable, neglected, uncommon or forgotten words that appear in the documents of the Yale Indian Papers Project.    Many of these are English words no longer in common usage; others are Native American words adopted by New Englanders, words that at one point had secured a place in the 17th-19th century Colonial and Early American vocabularies, but, for whatever reason, have faded from the lexicon. Or so we might think.

Although the format for this feature may change, expect to see, in addition to the word of interest, a definition as per the Oxford English Dictionary or, in the case of Native words, other authoritative sources.  The feature will include a snippet of the document in which the word appears.  These images contain several lines so as to provide some context.  Finally, there will also be a link to the record in the New England Indian Papers Series Electronic Archives.  This will allow readers access to the full digital image and transcription and any other value added content.

In addition, editors may occasionally prevail upon you for help with particularly vexing words or phrases, ones that have stumped us, creating something of a hurly-burly, however temporary, here in the office.


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