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What is LexiQamus?

What could that word be?

Individuals who read manuscripts in Ottoman Turkish frequently come across letters that are difficult to decipher. Maybe the handwriting is too messy, or maybe the document is torn, burnt, folded or stained by ink – there are a variety reasons why a letter may be illegible.  

LexiQamus grew out of this necessity to find a solution to this problem.

Extant dictionaries are only helpful if the illegible letters come at the end of a word, as the root is still likely to be intact. However, they are almost useless if there are missing or unclear letters at the beginning or in the middle of a word.

This is where LexiQamus comes into play. Based on the legible letters and the symbols for illegible letters entered into the boxes, LexiQamus’s special algorithm provides a list of possible words matching the given restrictions. With LexiQamus, you can find a word with missing or unclear letters almost immediately, a task that would have been almost impossible with a regular dictionary.

Results are listed under three separate tabs. The first tab, Exact, displays one-to-one matches with the search criteria. The second tab, Word, lists results in which one or more full words composing a multi-word phrase matches the criteria entered. The last tab, Partial, displays entries that contain the entered criteria anywhere in it.

The main reason for our sorting results in this manner is to provide researchers with the most likely potential matches in the event that they are unable to find the exact word or phrase for which they are searching. Moreover, sometimes the beginning or end of a word, or even one or more letters composing it may be illegible in the original manuscript. In this case and in order to avoid unnecessary false-positive results, we have included under the Word and Partial tabs potential matches that may otherwise be excluded or overlooked in the Exact tab.

There are three buttons next to each result, namely DefinitionParent Entry, and Mentioned in. If the result has at least one definition in the Lexicon, the Definition button is activated and the meaning of the word in the Lexicon is displayed in a box when clicked. If the result is an idiom or a proverb, the Parent Entry button becomes active and when clicked, the entry containing the result is opened. Finally, if the Mentioned in button is active, it means that the result is included in the definition of some other entries in the dictionary. These entries are listed when this button is clicked. Thus, all places where a word appears in the dictionary can be accessed at once.

This project was a large undertaking. The approximately 160,485 words and phrases found in A Turkish and English Lexicon written by James Redhouse were typed one by one into the database.

In short, when you search for a word using LexiQamus, you are accessing a massive database. It’s almost impossible not to find what you’re looking for, assuming that the letters are correctly entered into the boxes.

Our database comprises the entries of the following dictionaries:

1. Kamus-ı Türki: Şemseddin Sami Efendi, (1901)

2. Lûgat-ı Naci: Muallim Naci Efendi, (1894)

3. Kamus-ı Osmani: Mehmed Salahi Bey, (1905)

4. Lûgat-ı Remzi: Doktor Hüseyin Remzi Bey, (1887)

5. Lehçe-i Osmani: Ahmet Vefik Paşa, (1876)

6. Lûgat-ı Ebuzziya Tevfik: Ebuzziya Tevfik Bey, (1888)

7. Resimli Kamus-ı Osmani: Ali Seydi Bey, (1908)

8. Lûgat-ı Cudi: Trabzonlu Cudi Efendi, (1914)

9. Mükemmel Osmanlı Lûgatı: Faik Reşat & Ali Nazım Beyler, (1902)

10. Kitab-ı Müntehabat-ı Lûgat-ı Osmaniye: Mustafa Şükrü Eyyubi Bey, (1864)

11. Yeni Türkçe Lûgat: Mehmet Bahaeettin Toven, (1924)

12. Yeni Resimli Türkçe Kamus: Raif Necdet Kestelli, Ahmet Kamil Matbaası, (1928)

13. Hazine-i Lûgat-i Rumiyye ve Osmaniyye / Leksikon Elino-Turkikon: Fardi (Phardy), A. Th. - K[ostaki] J. Fo, Anatoli Matbaası, (1860)

14. A Turkish and English Lexicon: James W. Redhouse, Printed by A. H. Boyacıyan for the American mission., İstanbul, (1890) (H 1302)

15. Kamusu’l-A’lam: Şemseddin Sami Efendi, Mihran Matbaası, İstanbul, (1888-89) (H 1306)

16. Memalik-i Osmaniye’nin Tarih ve Coğrafya Lugatı, Ali Cevad Bey, Mahmut Bey Matbaası, İstanbul, (1895-96) (H 1313)

17. Lugat-ı Tarihiyye ve Coğrafiyye: Yağlıkçızade Ahmed Rıfat Efendi, Mahmut Bey Matbaası, İstanbul, [Cilt I, II, 1883-84 (H 1299); Cilt III, IV, V, 1884-85 (H 1300)]