A Computer Retrieval System for Heinrich Wagner's
Linguistic Atlas and Survey of Irish Dialects (LASID), Iml 1
(digitised by Eoghan Mac Énrí)

The Linguistic Atlas and Survey of Irish Dialects (LASID) is a 4-volume work by Heinrich Wagner, first published by the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies between 1958 and 1969, containing the responses, in phonetic notation, to 1175 questions as to the local Gaelic language equivalents of selected English words and phrases, at some 90 locations in Ireland, 7 in Scotland, and 2 in the Isle of Man.

Volume 1 consists of 300 maps, each of which displays, for the Irish and Manx locations, the responses to one, two or three questions (230, 69 and 1 map respectively). Each map is headed by the English words or phrases used in the question(s) mapped, and by the most common Gaelic wordings (in normal spelling) which occur in the responses to those questions. We here treat a multi-question map as a number of separate maps, and thus we have 371 maps in total.

A second edition of Volume 1 was issued in 1981, with the welcome addition of indexes of English words and Irish words. However this second edition was photographically reduced to the same page size as the other three volumes, somewhat impairing its readabilty to the human eye — it is sometimes difficult to distinguish tilde from breve or inverted breve, for example — see map 20, point 24; map 65, point 49; map 102, point 56; map 106, points 7, 55a, 56.

The corrigenda to Volume 1 listed on page XVIII of the 1959 edition and on page XXVI of the 1981 edition have been implemented, except for map 224, point 14 (where the final e of bou ˈl′axe should be ə), and for those to maps 121 and 123, which involve parts of the headings not included in the computer system.

Already many years ago, the responses in Volume 1 were digitised by Eoghan Mac Énrí (Eugene F J McKendry, Computer-aided contributions to the study of Irish dialects, unpublished PhD thesis, QUB, 1982; supervised by Heinrich Wagner, until he moved to Dublin, and then by Gerry Stockman). The QUILL computer program (Kieran Devine and Francis J Smith: QUILL, an on-line text retrieval system, Department of Computer Science, QUB, 1983) was adapted to search this material on a mainframe computer. Computer technology at that time was not well suited to the task of handing phonetics — the character-set did not even contain lowercase letters — but it improved somewhat over the following years. The program was further developed to make use of these improvements up until the mid-1990s, by which time it was running on microcomputers under MS-DOS; this is the form of the program made available here. While it has a dated appearance by present-day standards, it remains fully serviceable under MS-Windows.

Reference: McKendry, Eugene; Ó Duibhín, Ciarán; Mac Lochlainn, Brian: LASID and the computer, in Séamus Mac Mathúna and Ailbhe Ó Corráin (eds.), Miscellanea Celtica in Memoriam Heinrich Wagner = Studia Celtica Upsaliensia 2 (1997), at pp. 345–353


Installation of the program

Under Windows XP or earlier, simply download the file lasid.zip and unpack it into a directory, and double-click on runlasid or on runlasid.pif (or on runlasid.bat, and then press Alt/Enter).

Under Windows Vista, 7 or 8, download and install DOSBox (free, from https://www.dosbox.com/ ). Then download lasid.zip and unpack it into a directory and double-click on runlasidvista.bat.

The program is menu-driven, and does not use the mouse. Menus are navigated using the arrow keys of the keyboard, together with Enter and Escape.

The opening screen is:

Continue is highlighted at the bottom of the screen; press Enter to action it.

The top-of-screen menu appears, with options Search (highlighted) and Quit. Press Enter to action Search.


To find maps with a chosen English word in their heading

Choose Search English Words and press Enter. Type an English word (eg. cow) or words (eg. cow OR bulls), in lowercase, and press Enter.


The number of maps found will be shown.

Press Enter to action Continue.

The top-of-screen menu will have Display (highlighted) and Refine added to it. Press Enter to action Display, and again to action To screen.


Each matching map will be displayed in turn — the non-empty responses only — taking usually 3 or 4 screens per map — keep pressing Enter.


To find maps with a chosen Gaelic word in their heading

Choose Search Irish words and press Enter. Type an Irish word IN UPPERCASE (eg. MADADH) or words (eg. MADADH OR CAORA). Length marks on uppercase vowels can be keyed by holding down AltGr and Shift (or, for keyboards without AltGr: Ctrl and Alt and Shift) while keying the vowel.


The number of maps found will be shown. Press Enter to action Continue.


The top-of-screen menu will have Display (highlighted) and Refine added to it. Press Enter to action Display, and again to action To screen.


Each matching map will be displayed in turn — the non-empty responses only — taking usually 3 or 4 screens per map — keep pressing Enter.



To find all responses for a chosen location

Choose Search phonetic material and press Enter.

Choose Point number and press Enter.


Choose the desired point from the list and press Enter.


Press Enter to action Go.


Press Enter to action Continue. The responses at the selected point may be shown for ALL maps, one map at a time, including even those maps for which the response was null, but these null items will not include any phonetics.


To find all responses containing a chosen phonetic symbol

Choose Search phonetic material and press Enter.


Choose Phone and press Enter.


Choose the desired symbol from the two-level menus and press Enter.


Press Enter again to action Go.


The number of point-responses containing the symbol will be shown, and the number of distinct maps on which they occur. Press Enter to action Continue.


The top-of-screen menu will contain Display (highlighted) and Refine. Press Enter to action Display, and again to action To screen.


For each matching point-response in turn will be shown the English and Irish map headings, and the point number and phonetic response.



To find all responses containing a sequence of two chosen phonetic symbols

Choose Search phonetic material and press Enter.


Choose Phone and press Enter.


Choose the first desired symbol from the two-level phones menu and press Enter.


Choose Phone again and press Enter to action it.


Choose the second desired symbol from the two-level phones menu and press Enter.


Choose Consec and press Enter to action it.


Press Enter again to action Go.


The number of point-responses containing the two-symbol sequence will be shown, and the number of distinct maps on which they occur. Press Enter to action Continue.


The top-of-screen menu will contain Display (highlighted) and Refine. Press Enter to action Display, and again to action To screen.


For each matching point-response in turn will be shown the English and Irish map headings, and the point number and phonetic response.


To find all responses containing a chosen phonetic symbol at a chosen location

Choose Search phonetic material and press Enter.


Choose Phone and press Enter.


Choose the desired symbol from the two-level menus and press Enter.


Choose Point number and press Enter to action it.


Choose the desired point from the list and press Enter.


Choose And and press Enter to action it.


Choose within the same point-response and press Enter to action it.


Press Enter again to action Go.


The number of responses from the chosen point containing the chosen symbol will be shown, and the number of distinct maps on which they occur. Press Enter to action Continue.


The top-of-screen menu will contain Display (highlighted) and Refine. Press Enter to action Display, and again to action To screen.


For each matching point-response in turn will be shown the English and Irish map headings, and the point number and phonetic response.



See some maps made from data in LASID Vol 1.



Ciarán Ó Duibhín
2016/05/13
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