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Showing posts from 2013

Word of the Month: Anglo-Norman Sweetmeats

At this time of year, our thoughts turn to Christmas foods – particularly to sweets and confections. A search of the use of the term ‘sweetmeat’ in the AND2 (one can search the translations or glosses in the dictionary from the homepage) shows that an international array of sugary goods was available in medieval England. For those unfamiliar with the English term, sweetmeat is used to describe any kind of confectionary – candied fruit, nuts etc. – nothing ‘meaty’ involved despite the name – ‘meat’ is used here in the original sense of ‘food’ and not ‘flesh’. This should not be confused with the similar sounding sweetbread – which is definitely neither sweet nor bread! Even the OED can’t explain that one! Confection was the general term used in Anglo-Norman for any compound preparation – a mixture which included a number of ingredients. It was also used as a term for preserves, a mixture of fruit and sugar. From the Latin confectio , the word is attested in Middle English

Words of the Month: Noef! Novel!

The Nativity in the Bedford Hours: London, British Library, MS Additional 18850, f. 65r. - See more at: It may be a little early for Noel , but already offer you a present in the shape of a novel version of the dictionary: we have proceeded not only with the online publication of the second edition of the letter N – from naal to nuus – but also with the introduction of some entirely new functionalities. Work on the letter N in the course of 2013 coincided with a novation (‘the alteration of a contract to include a new person’), that is the inclusion of Katariina Nära to the project team. She has been working, since April, on the addition of a new feature now part of AND#2: an entirely new section at the top of the article (just below the headword and variant forms) provides live links and/or references to other relevant dictionaries. These will assist user

Word of the Month: 'Organe'

Pending online publication of the second edition of ‘N’, AND revision work continues with the editorial team currently gathering information, citations and references for the letter ‘O’.  To offer a glimpse of the process: it has already become apparent that while AND#1 only had one entry for organe , AND#2 (the second, online edition) will have (at least) two: one musical and one herbal. The first entry (which was already present in AND#1), now becoming organe 1 , is derived from Latin organum. The word can be traced back to Greek οργανον, which originally referred to a tool or instrument to work with (cf. εργον, Greek for ‘work, task’), and more specifically to a musical instrument. That latter meaning persisted in medieval times, and the DMLBS lists as its 5 th sense: ‘musical instrument that can be tuned’ (DMLBS 2053a). Whereas the modern musical sense of ‘organ’, i.e. an instrument using pipes sounded by keys, is already well-attested in medieval Latin organum and

Word of the month: havegooday

While gathering information for the revision of the AND, one of the sources available to the editorial team is the collection of ‘gleanings’ previously made by contributors. Certain texts were read completely and any number of noteworthy words, phrases or citations were set aside – in earlier days handwritten on slips or on typed lists, but more recently copied in digital files – for later consideration. Sometime in the late 1990s Dr. Lisa Jefferson contributed in such a way, and gathered material from (among other sources) the manuscripts of the Merchant Taylor accounts – which otherwise would not have been available to the AND. Her ‘gleanings’ for ‘H’ from these documents belonging the London guild of tailors included the following intriguing phrase: ‘Item pur .vij. havegooddays , un pur le stretdore, pris .iiij. d. et pur l’autres .vj. d. – xij d.’ It is a single entry in a list of payments made during the second year of the reign of Henry VI (1423). Two seemingly

Call for Anglo-Norman papers

Call for Papers: Anglo-Norman Texts, Language and Contexts The Anglo-Norman Dictionary ( ) is interested in sponsoring a session or series of sessions at the Leeds International Medieval Congress 2014 (see )  devoted to new research on Anglo-Norman texts a nd their contexts. We will present papers on the subject, but are looking for further contributors. We are particularly interested in hearing about new texts, new editions of texts, and texts that fall outside of the literary context. Paper topics could include, but are not limited to: the use of Anglo-Norman in literary and non-literary contexts the intended audience of Anglo-Norman texts throughout the medieval period the transmission of Anglo-Norman texts the revision, annotation or translation of Anglo-Norman texts  the inclusion of Anglo-Norman with texts in other languages the manuscript context of Anglo-Norman works the use of Anglo-Norman outside England If

Word of the Month: The Monoceros and the Unicorn

The Anglo-Norman  unicorn  is a strange beast. And not only because it never existed. Whereas continental French has both  unicorne  and the altered form  licorne  (regarded by FEW 14,42b, and Hope,  Lexical Borrowing , 42-43, as deriving from Italian, as a reduction of  lunicorno  where one syllable is lost, so  l(un)icorno  became  licorno ).  English has only the one form though  licorn  is attested  in the obsolete (nineteenth-century) sense of ‘old name for the howitzer of the last century, then but a kind of mortar fitted on a field-carriage to fire shells at low angles’ (OED sub  licorn ).  Licornus  is not attested in the DMBLS though presumably  unicornus  will be, as the latter is equally attested in late classical Latin. Anglo-Norman however, seemingly only has the one form,  unicorne  and was used to refer to both the (mythological) unicorn or any (real) one-horned animal, notably the Indian rhinoceros ( Rhinoceros unicornis,  which has only one horn whereas the Afric

Word of the month: nuncheon

It is mid-afternoon and the editorial team of the Anglo-Norman Dictionary is producing XML files of the latest batch of new entries for N-. They have been sitting in front of their computers and processing the data for about six hours now, and their typing fingers are noticeably slowing down. It is still too early to call it a day, but minds are inevitably beginning to wander. Fortunately, a resolution for the growing three-o’clock malaise is found in the Oxford English Dictionary under the word ‘ nuncheon ’, that is, ‘a drink taken in the afternoon; a light refreshment between meals; a snack’. ‘Nuncheon’ is a word labelled as archaic or regional – the sort of vocabulary encountered in nineteenth-century novels: Sir Walter Scott still wrote ‘I came to get my four-hours’ nunchion from you’ in his novel Fortunes Of Nigel (1822), and in Charlotte Mary Yonge’s Love and Life (1880) a sister tells her siblings ‘I will give you some bread and cheese and gingerbread for noonchin ’.

Word of the Month: The Croes Naid

While the work of revising the dictionary often results in new citations added to articles, or to new definitions added to existing entries, adding a new word to the dictionary is always very exciting. Sometimes, in the process, we also manage to solve some editorial ‘mysteries’. In the recent edition of the Prose Brut to 1332 (H. Pagan, ed. ANTS vol. 69, 2011), we can  read that, ‘ Robert de Winchelse et autrez grauntz fusrent juretz sur la croice neite de tenir et maintenir lez dites ordenances ’ (l. 5797 ; Robert of Winchelsea [bishop of Canterbury] and other great [men] swore on the ‘croice neite’ to hold and maintain the said ordinances). In the glossary and notes to the text, it is suggested that neite is a form of net (AND2 s.v. net , soon to be net 1 ) though there is also a mention that one manuscript presents the reading nettement . Neit is indeed an attested variant of net , though none of the senses of net (currently ‘clean’, ‘pure, chaste’, ‘innocent’) seem to apply