Book Series The Medieval Translator, vol. 19

Medieval Glossaries from North-Western Europe

Tradition and Innovation

Annina Seiler, Chiara Benati, Sara M. Pons-Sanz

  • Pages: 762 p.
  • Size:156 x 234 mm
  • Illustrations:25 b/w, 11 col., 16 tables b/w.
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2023

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  • ISBN: 978-2-503-58457-7
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  • ISBN: 978-2-503-58458-4
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This volume, written by an international group of specialists, represents the first handbook dedicated to medieval glossaries in English and related traditions (in particular, the Continental Germanic languages, the Celtic languages, Anglo-Norman). The handbook includes articles on the theoretical and cultural background of medieval glossaries, overview chapters on the different glossary traditions as well as articles on particularly important glossaries within these traditions.


Annina Seiler is a research associate in English historical linguistics at the University of Zurich. Chiara Benati is a full professor in Germanic philology at the University of Genova. Sara Pons-Sanz is a reader in English language at Cardiff University. The three editors share an interest in the earlier stages of the Germanic languages, historical lexicology and lexicography, as well as in issues connected to multilingualism and language contact in the Middle Ages.


Glossaries are the dictionaries of the medieval period. They were created at a time when no comprehensive dictionary of the Latin language existed, but lexicographical resources were urgently needed to engage with the writings of Classical and Late Antiquity as well as near-contemporary texts. In the non-Romance speaking areas in north-western Europe, the compilers of glossaries were quick to have recourse to their vernacular languages. Glossaries are often the places in which these languages were put into writing for the first time. Hence, the effort to explain Latin vocabulary resulted in bilingual lexicography and in the establishment of the vernaculars as written languages in their own right. The negotiation of linguistic and cultural barriers lies at the centre of the glossaries. Consequently, medieval traditions of glossography are highly interconnected.

This volume represents the first reference work dedicated to medieval glossaries in English and related traditions, including other languages spoken in the British Isles (Celtic languages, Anglo-Norman) and the Germanic languages (High and Low German, Dutch, Scandinavian, Gothic). As such, it is intended as a vademecum for researchers in order to facilitate modern approaches to medieval glossography, lexicology and lexicography, which often require some familiarity with different traditions. Written by experts in the field, the fifty chapters of this volume highlight important characteristics and themes of medieval glossaries and outline different glossographic traditions; they facilitate access to individual glossaries, or groups of related glossaries, by providing detailed discussions of the texts, their sources, relationships and transmission; they also give an account of the current state of research and highlight important resources.




Introduction (Annina Seiler, Chiara Benati and Sara M. Pons-Sanz)


I. Cultural, Intellectual and Textual Contexts

A Typology of Glossaries (Claudia Wich-Reif)

Functions of Glossaries (Rolf H. Bremmer Jr)

Glossaries in a Multilingual Context (Maíre Ní Mhaonaigh)

Glosses, Glossaries and Wisdom Texts (Kees Dekker)

Isidore of Seville’s Etymologies (Carmen Cardelle)

The Hermeneumata Pseudodositheana (Lucia Degiovanni)

The Oldest Latin Glossaries (Franck Cinato)

Latin–Romance Glossaries (Cinzia Pignatelli)


II. Glossaries from the British Isles

Old English Glossaries (Hans Sauer †)

The Leiden Glossary (Rolf H. Bremmer Jr and Kees Dekker)

The Épinal-Erfurt Glossary (David Porter)

The Cleopatra Glossaries (Philip G. Rusche)

The Antwerp-London Glossaries (David W. Porter)

Ælfric’s Glossary (Lucia Kornexl)

Glossaries and Biblical Learning in Anglo-Saxon England (Richard Marsden)

Aldhelm (Emily V. Thornbury)

Legal Glossaries (Old and Middle English) (Sara M. Pons-Sanz)

Herbal Glossaries (Old and Middle English) (Hans Sauer †)

Middle English Glossaries (Patrizia Lendinara)

The Glossaries in Bodley 730 (Claudio Cataldi)

Fifteenth-Century Bilingual Dictionaries (Annette Horn)

Anglo-Norman Glossaries (Heather Pagan)

Bilingual Verse Vocabularies (Thomas Hinton)

The Celtic Tradition (Sharon Arbuthnot, Pádraic Moran and Paul Russell)


III. Continental Germanic and Scandinavian Glossaries

Old High German Glossaries (Stefanie Stricker)

Vocabularius Sancti Galli (Andreas Nievergelt)

The Old High German Abrogans (Andreas Nievergelt)

The Mondsee Bible Glossary (Claudia Wich-Reif)

The Salomonian Glossary (Andreas Nievergelt)

Summarium Heinrici (Vreni Wittberger Markwardt)

Insular-Continental Connections (Paolo Vaciago)

Animal Glossaries (English and German Traditions) (Annina Seiler)

High German Glossaries, 1050–1515 (Elke Krotz)

Versus de volucribus, bestiis, arboribus, piscibus (Vreni Wittberger Markwardt)

The Lingua ignota of Hildegard of Bingen (Sarah L. Higley)

Vocabularius Ex quo (Bernhard Schnell)

Liber ordinis rerum (Chiara Benati)

Vocabularius quadriidiomaticus (Chiara Benati)

Old Saxon Glossaries (Maria Rita Digilio)

Middle Low German Glossaries (Chiara Benati)

Vocabularius brevilogus (Chiara Benati)

Vocabularius theutonicus (Chiara Benati)

Stralsund Vocabulary (Chiara Benati)

Middle Dutch Glossaries (Piet van Sterkenburg)

Medieval Scandinavian Glossaries (Chiara Benati and Simon Skovgaard Boeck)


IV. From Medieval to Renaissance Lexicography

Medieval Glossaries and Renaissance Lexicography (John Considine)

High German Lexicography in the Humanist Period (Elke Krotz)

Scandinavian Lexicography in the Early Modern Period (Simon Skovgaard Boeck)

Busbeqc’s Crimean Gothic Wordlist (Ludwig Rübekeil)


List of References

General Index

Manuscript Index