CLIWOC multilingual meteorological dictionary

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This dictionary is the first attempt to express the wealth of archaic logbook wind force terms in a form that is comprehensible to the modern-day reader. Oliver and Kington (1970) and Lamb (1982) have drawn attention to the importance of logbooks in climatic studies, and Lamb (1991) offered a conversion scale for early eighteenth century English wind force terms, but no studies have thus far pursued the matter to any greater depth. This text attempts to make good this deficiency, and is derived from the research undertaken by the CLIWOC project1 in which British, Dutch, French and Spanish naval and merchant logbooks from the period 1750 to 1850 were used to derive a global database of climatic information. At an early stage in the project it was apparent that many of the logbook weather terms, whilst conforming to a conventional vocabulary, possessed meanings that were unclear to twenty-first century readers or had changed over time. This was particularly the case for the important element of wind force; but no special plea is entered for the evolution in nautical vocabulary, which often reflected more wide-ranging changes in the respective native languages.The key objective was to translate the archaic vocabulary of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century mariner into expressions directly comparable with the Beaufort Scale (see Appendix I). Only then could the projects scientific programme be embarked upon. This dictionary is the result of the largest undertaking into logbook studies that has yet been carried out. Several thousand logbooks from British, Dutch, French and Spanish archives were examined, and the exercise offered a unique opportunity to explore the vocabulary of the one hundred year period beginning in 1750. The logbooks from which the raw data have been abstracted range widely across the North and South Atlantic and the Indian Oceans. Only the Pacific, largely in consequence of the paucity of regular naval activity in that area, is not well represented. The range of climates encountered in this otherwise wide geographic domain gives ample opportunity for the full range of the mariners nautical weather vocabulary to be assessed, from the calms of the Equatorial regions, through the gales of the mid-latitude systems to the fearsome storms of the tropical latitudes. The Trade Winds belts, the Doldrums, the unsettled mid-latitudes, even the icy wastes of the high latitudes, are all embraced in this study. It is not here intended to pass any judgements on the climatological record of the logbooks, and this text seeks only to provide a means of understanding archaic wind force terms and, other than to indicate those items that were not commonly used, no information is given on the frequency with which different terms appeared in the logbooks. Attention is, furthermore, confined to Dutch, English, French and Spanish because these once great imperial powers were the only nations able to support wide-ranging ocean-going fleets with their attendant collections of logbooks and documents over this long period of time. The work is offered to the wider academic community in the hope that they will prove to be of as much value as it has been to the CLIWOC team.

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García-Herrera, R. , Prieto, L. , Gallego, D. , Hernández, E. , Gimeno, L. , Können, G. P. , Koek, F. B. , Wheeler, D. A. , Wilkinson, C. , Prieto, M. R. , Báez, C. and Woodruff, S. (2003): CLIWOC multilingual meteorological dictionary , EU contract EVK2-CT-2000-00090 .

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