I SOLVED a little mystery today. I noticed that after I’d checked a word in an online
dictionary while writing this diary, when I went back to typing I obliterated any
following text. The dictionary apparently automatically changes the setting to overtype
There’s a simple solution; just press the insert key, which is there on most keyboards,
often overlooked, above the delete key. This toggles between normal typing and overtype
Shorter Oxford English Dictionary
I was lucky enough to find a full edition of The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary
on the cover CD of Computer Shopper way back in 2000. It’s been the most useful software
I’ve ever loaded from a cover CD. It’s version 1 from 1996 so it doesn’t work on
my new Windows 7 computer. In the meantime I’ve been using the free WordWeb, which
is excellent but because I’ve been researching Robin Hood I soon found myself missing
the depth of coverage of English from 1700 onwards given in the SOED. Version 3 of
SOED isn’t designed for Windows 7 either, but it works one my machine, although I
can’t work out how to incorporate it as a spellchecker.
For instance, burgess in WordWeb is simply ‘A citizen of an English borough’ while
in the SOED I learn that the word derives from the ‘Anglo-Norman burgeis, Old French
borjois (mod. bourgeois) from Proto-Romance, from Latin burgus castle, fort (in Medieval
Latin fortified town, borough).’
And that the burgess was ‘An inhabitant of a borough having full municipal rights;
I’m starting to realise that these growing powers of the common man lie at the heart
of the Robin Hood stories. The early ballads portray him as an outlawed yeoman. Again
going to the SOED, this was originally a ‘young man’ attending a knight or noble
but in a wider sense it came to refer to anyone who cultivated his own land. A member
of the the growing bourgeois middle class rather than a serf (or, as in later Robin
Hood tradition, a noble).
I wanted to get out and clear the snow from our drive while it was still fresh.
Unfortunately sleety snow followed this afternoon snowfall and it remelted. Good
More trouble at the Manor Court in my roughs for ‘Robin Hood’ today - serfs and
the Knights of St John both objected to the Manor Court for different reasons.