The WildWords Project:General disclaimer

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Course and Project Overview

Northwestern University is a community, working to set goals, achieve them, defining and striving for excellence, etc. As such we create a culture and are a speech community using our language to describe and form our culture and identity. This language includes both jargon (such as: freshman seminars and advisers, Wildcat, distros, CAESAR, CTECs, DM, ASG, SafeRide, MMLC, and many, many more), as well as slang (such as: rapey, getting raped on an exam, I’m just sayin’, LOLOLOL, gotta bounce, and many, many more). SLAVIC 322 concentrates on the language, identity, and heritage of the Northwestern University community. As part of the course, students create and curate this digital-born Northwestern University Dictionary (`NUDictionary’). Through this curation, students learn to conduct, collect, and analyze the language as well as creating the dictionary (“dialect” fieldwork and lexicography). Students also learn about the role, status, and prejudice that book-dictionaries have had in history (drawing on readings from specifically Russian and American examples) and work to try to avoid such prejudices in NUDictionary. Moreover, students engage in meaningful reflection and discussion on the “monopoly of the printed book” in light of emerging, digital forms as represented by dictionaries (printed and digital ones). NUDictionary is about lexicography, linguistics, identity, culture, and heritage. NUDictionary offers a venue for community building as well as a common networking space for meanings of NU’s language for students especially new students staff, and faculty.

To explore the phenomenon of the online dictionary, this project draws inspiration from two contemporary, yet radically different examples: Wiktionary, and The NUDictionary project has embraced these ideas in the form of its own combined “WildWords” concept.

WildWords is a Wiki-style dictionary built using MediaWiki software. Like Wiktionary, there is an emphasis on comprehensive coverage of concepts including: word pronunciations, citations, and indications of how the words are used in the field. Many of these words and concepts are expansions of similar ideas contributed to WildWords. Administratively, a core set of “admins” (students in the course) have final say over content.

How do I report a problem, or seek technical help?

To report any problems accessing the site, updating content, or to seek assistance for any reason, please write a brief email to:

Who is working on this site?

This site is a collaborative effort between the instructors and students of Slavic 322/Linguistics 363, and the WCAS Multimedia Learning Center as a supporting technology partner.

Course Design: Elisabeth Elliott (Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures) Technology Partners: Matthew Taylor, Sergei Kalugin (Multimedia Learning Center)

Are there other community dictionary sites like this?

The English Department at The University of Georgia curates the site “DawgSpeak” ( which offers an online glossary of terms in use by the community there. In addition to providing glossary of the unique lexicon, the DawgSpeak project also includes a number of guides targeted to newer students to help them more rapidly understand some of the language and customs of their community.


The entries, postings, etc. here are based on a course in Slavic and Linguistics to have students learn about bias and prejudice in dictionaries while they engage in creating a dictionary based on their own community at their university. While representative of the work of the community, it is not intended to officially represent the University. The postings on the NUDictionary Project pages (including “NeD” and “WildWords”) represent the opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints of their individual contributors and and are not intended to represent an official view of the University. Though the sites will accept a wide variety of contributions, editorial control will be regularly exercised both by students enrolled in the course and the technical team listed above. Content that is directly offensive or hateful will not be tolerated and will be removed from the site. All questions concerning content and its handling should be directed to the technical support address listed above: