This article provides an introduction to the web application Evoke. This application offers functionality to navigate, view, extend, and analyse thesaurus content. The thesauri that can be navigated in Evoke are expressed in Linguistic Linked Data, an interoperable data form that enables the extension of thesaurus content with custom labels and allows for the linking of thesaurus content to other digital resources. As such, Evoke is a powerful research tool that facilitates its users to perform novel cultural linguistic analyses over multiple sources. This article further demonstrates the potential of Evoke by discussing how A Thesaurus of Old English was made available in the application and how this has already been adopted in the field of Old English studies. Lastly, the author situates Evoke within a number of recent developments in the field of Digital Humanities and its applications for onomasiological research.
In the Old English poem Beowulf, several body parts are put on display, including Grendel’s arm at Heorot and Æschere’s head on top of a cliff. The first instance has been widely discussed by various scholars, who have tried to find out why and where the arm was hung. By contrast, scholarly treatments of the second instance are relatively scarce. This article places the exhibition of Æschere’s head by Grendel’s mother in the context of similar practices of decapitation and display in Anglo-Saxon England. It will be argued that the placement of the head of Æschere on top of the cliff towering over Grendel’s mere resembles the Anglo-Saxon heafod stoccan, ‘head stakes’, which acted as boundary markers. The monster’s act, therefore, would not strike as foreign to the Anglo-Saxon audience, but would be familiar. As we will show, the identification of Æschere’s head as a boundary marker, placed at the edge of the monsters’ domain, also has some bearing on the interpretation of other potential boundary markers in the poem, including Grendel’s arm and the dragon’s corpse. Lastly, we will argue for a new reading of two textual cruces in Beowulf’s speech prior to his fight with Grendel.
This article describes onomasiological explorations of Old Frisian and Old English lexis in the semantic field of KINSHIP through a novel, digital approach. In connecting Old Frisian lexis, drawn from the Altfriesisches Handwörterbuch (AFWB), to the overarching structure of A Thesaurus of Old English (TOE), a dataset has been created that shares a semantic framework with the one existing for Old English lexis. The connected resources are shared and analysed using the web application Evoke. Statistical data provided by this tool, such as the degree of lexicalization for this field, facilitates comparative analyses of the two historical languages. As this article demonstrates, the reuse of the onomasiological macrostructure of TOE offers new insights into linguistic and cultural aspects of these two languages and their language communities.