The creation of a database of English usage guides and usage problems: the Hyper Usage Guide of English, or HUGE-database, is one of the sub-projects within Bridging the Unbridgeable. It is the first database to combine more than two hundred years of usage advice into a single reference library.
The HUGE-database contains usage guides from the entire history of the genre, starting in 1770 with the publication of the first ever usage guide, Robert Baker’s Reflections on the English Language in 1770, up to the present day with one of the most recently published usage guides, Simon Heffer’s Strictly English.
The databse will also include such evergreens and best-sellers as Henry Fowler’s Dictionary of Modern English Usage, perhaps the most famous usage guide of all, Bryan Garner’s Modern American Usage, Strunk & White’s Elements of Style and Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss.
I coordinate the database project, while our student assistent Cynthia Lange takes care of most of the data entry. We are still in the process of compiling the database, so it keeps growing all the time. Currently we have 63 usage guides in the database and 61 different usage problems. But we are still adding more usage guides, and there is an extension planned to double the number of usage problems. The database also contains almost 1600 full-text entries of English usage problems. Our intern Inge Otto is currently working on another extension, which includes bibliographic information of secondary sources that deal with specific usage guides or usage problems.
Initially, the database will only available to researchers, but we have plans to eventually make the database freely available to the public. Users can expect to find detailed advice on many usage problems in the English language, and will be able to compare usage advice across guides, acrosse time, and across different varieties of English.
For a little more information, I have made a Prezi about the database that you can watch. Keep coming back to the blog for more news on the database and like us on facebook and follow us @usageguides on twitter for progress updates!