My goldlisting project for this year is an average of 100 lines per day (but I’m currently 18 days ahead of schedule), and the language I’m goldlisting is Cantonese. My goal is 15 000 items, but because I need extra lines for readings, I’ll need to reach about 20 000 headlist lines.
Source and Method
I’m using a great list of characters encountered in the Taiwanese school system, finding the CantoDict page for one character at a time, and goldlisting all the “compounds” that seem worthwhile. This usually means I’ll skip:
- Things I don’t understand the English translation of.
- Transparent compound words.
- Proper nouns that I don’t recognize.
The first few characters in the list have huge lists of words containing them, and the last ones may have only one or two. Some are not even in the dictionary, and others are there, but with no words. So in the beginning, I will be using the same list for a long time, but the further I get, the shorter the lists get. In addition, I keep track of what characters I’ve already goldlisted, so I skip any words containing characters I’ve already done, which further shortens the lists.
In calculating project sizes in the goldlist system, David James multiplies the amount of headlist lines by three to get an approximate number of lines. In my case, the entire project should have 60,000 lines in total, although in reality it will likely have less than that. I’m currently at 10,300 headlist lines, but I’ve already started distilling, so I have about 8,000 lines in my distillations too. If I see every item approximately 3 times on average, I’ve finished about 1/3 of the project.
If I keep going at 100 lines per day, the remaining ~40,000 lines should take me ~400 days. But if I can manage to keep going at the current rate of 200 lines per day, I’ll need only ~200 days, which means I could finish before next year, if work and other circumstances allow it.
Initially, I planned on doing the project in 20 batches of 1,000 headlist lines each, and just finish them one by one, but I found out about David’s superior batch system early on and decided to use that instead. If the numbers look scary, don’t worry; I felt completely overwhelmed when I looked at them too. But it’s actually very easy:
- Write your headlist for the first batch (in my case 2,000 lines).
- Distil the headlist from 1–2,000, and and continue making the headlist from 2,001–3,900.
- Return to the beginning of the book, where your D1 (first distillation) starts, and distil it. Now distil the second headlist batch, and finally continue making the headlist from 3,901–5,700.
- Return to the beginning of the book, where your D2 starts. Distil your way through the book again, distilling one page at a time. Now continue making the headlist from 5,701–6,300.
- Return to the beginning of the book, where your D3 starts. Distil your way through the whole book. Add 1,500 lines to your headlist.
- Return to the beginning of the book, where your D4 starts. Distil your way through the whole book. Add 1,400 lines to your headlist.
- Return to the beginning of the book, where your D5 starts. Distil your way through the whole book. Add 1,300 lines to your headlist.
- Return to the beginning of the book, where your D6 starts. Distil your way through the whole book. Add 1,200 lines to your headlist.
- And so on.
Of course, you won’t find a single book that can fit everything, so since my books have 100 sheets and are 35 lines deep, I can fit 2,500 headlist words with three distillations in each if I use the very last page and the very first as if they were a double page. After D3, I have to sample from several pages to make a new list of 25 lines per page in a new book. We call the first book “bronze” and the second “silver” – the next is “gold” and then even “platinum” if you want to keep going, but you may not need to continue once you finish the silver book.
Having explained the system I planned on using, I have to say I ended up not sticking to it after all, and there’s a good reason for that. I can only do the headlist when I have access to my source, and my source is online. Therefore, I decided to do the headlist when I can, since the other distillations can be done anywhere (except when I sample from one book to put into another, but at least I don’t need to be online for that. But I think I will follow the batch system for distillations, and so far, I have.
Books and Pens
I use these 100-page, 35-line Kokuyo Campus notebooks:
Each one can fit 2,500 headlist lines, so I’ll need 8 of them at the bronze stage, and probably 2 at the silver stage. I might just use a smaller book at the gold stage.
I don’t have a specific type of pen that I use, but I try to use comfortable ones. I prefer 0.38 mm., but 0.5 mm. pens are OK as well. If you want to try this at home, make sure you stock up on pens, because this really eats them up! I like to use black for the headlist, blue for D1, red for D2, and green for D3, then black for D4, and so on, rotating the colours, but you can do it with any colour you like.