J.R.R. Tolkien, author of “The Lord of the Rings,” “The Hobbit” and other stories of Middle Earth, spent his professional career as a philologist—a classical linguist—immersed in Old English and Old Norse as a professor at Oxford University in Great Britain. It is only fitting that his works of fiction and fantasy continue to influence others like Fred Hoyt to pursue the study of linguistics.
Cue the Howard Shore score...
Hoyt, a graduate student in the Department of Linguistics, plans to use Tolkien’s work to interest other students in the study of linguistics with a course he is teaching in the spring, The Linguistics of Middle Earth.
Could school be anymore fun than that? Hmm... I sense the unmistakably sounds of heads shaking, eyes rolling, and tongues rasberrying.
What's so special about it? Quite a lot. First of all, it's free (duh!) and open to submissions from anybody who wants to share their knowledge. So far there are almost 100,000 articles, in many different languages. Because it's so accessible to the entire world, the articles posted might become a little sketchy facts-wise, succumbing to various biases and so forth. But from my initial browsing, everything seems quite solid and professional, but often with a bit more punch than its commercial counterparts. It's essentially the Linux of encyclopedias. Open-source can, indeed, be good.
And for a more technical spin on the same idea, check out Nupedia. Lots of good info on there as well, mostly computer and science related, from what I can see.
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