Its authors, currently working on the letter N, might possibly finish their task by 2050.
“If a word is just on a toilet in Pompeii in graffiti, you’ll find it with us,” researcher and editor Marijke Ottink told Byrd Pinkerton, for NPR.
The effort of these researchers includes exhaustively reviewing a number of works written in Latin, catalogng each word and every passage they could get their hands on on any parchment, scroll or inscription, and then creating a detailed entry in the dictionary for each word, with its meaning and all inflections contained in each document.
The German government granted this mission to a group of experts in 1894, and that first generation of scholars filled a myriad of boxes with thousands of slips including references drawn from poetry fragments, speeches, legal texts, culinary references, gravestones, graffiti and more. In this dictionary, each word has at least one box full of references; for the word res (“thing”) there are 16 boxes.
The Thesaurus Linguae Latinae, once finished (possibly by the year 2050, according to some calculations), will include a complete volume for each letter of the alphabet.
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