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More glosses in early medieval English manuscripts.

In reading the manuscripts consulted by A. S. Napier and Herbert Dean Meritt for their collections of Old English glosses interlinear or marginal, in ink or scratched,(1) one is always impressed by their thoroughness. The lexicography of earlier English is one particular beneficiary of their efforts, as so many Old English words occur only in glossarial texts. On occasion new Old English glosses can be recovered from early medieval manuscripts; they are usually scratched glosses, often only partially executed. Two Royal manuscripts(2) in the British Library contain further scratched glosses: Royal 5 E.xi (Ker no. 252; s. [] []), and 13 A.xv (Ker no. 266; s. [xi.sup.I]). Many of them cannot be made out; some of those that can be seen still are given below.(3)

Royal 5 E.xi: Aldhelm's prose De laude virginitatis; cfi Napier no. 8 [ink], Meritt no. 2 [scratched]; the lemmata belong to the praefatio and opening to the prosa.(4)

[8.sup.v] 3 simulq<ue>: tho

[8.sup.r] 9 ornantibus: ge

[8.sup.r] 10 segnis: the

[8.sup.r] 11 optabilem: ge th<aet>

[8.sup.r] 12 prosperitas: ge

[9.sup.v] 1 sagacissima: thu thaer g

[9.sup.v] 1 serie: ae

Royal 13 A.xv: Felix, Vita sancti Guthlaci;(5) cf. Napier No. 36 [ink]; Meritt no. 16 [scratched])

[12.sup.v] 3 brauio: (cap. XXX: percepto ubiqui certandi bravio; Colgrave, 100)

[12.sup.v] 17 lurido:(6) sa[r?] (cap. XXXI: lurido vultu; Colgrave, 102)

[12.sup.v] 19 trucibus: beo (cap. XXXI: trucibus oculis; Colgrave, 102)

[13.sup.r] 2 comis: locu[m] (Meritt printed comis: loc; cap. XXXI: corals obustis; Colgrave, 102)

[13.sup.r] 3-4 femoribus scabris genibus no|datis.: [.]tow (in r.m.; cap. XIII; Colgrave, 102)

[13.sup.v] 6 raucisonis; Ita enim in mensis uagitib<us>: wif (in r.m.; cap. XXXI; Colgrave, 102)

[18.sup.v]8 axatum: bloeig (cap. XXXV: cervus axatum; Colgrave, 114)

[18.sup.v] 20 ut ab hoc tumultu desitas: unrece(7) (scratched gl. beneath line; cap. XXXVI; Colgrave, 116)

[24.sup.r] 17 impetraretur: der (cap. XL; Colgrave, 128)

[24.sup.v] 14 uitam: dege (cap. XL: cum maesti parentes nati mortem magis quam vitam optarent; Colgrave, 128)

[44.sup. r] 20 permisit: gefrem [....] [scratched gl. beneath the line] (cap. LIII; Colgrave, 168)

In the case of both Royal manuscripts, the luther scratched glosses partial and complete are in the same hand as scratched the glosses recorded by Meritt. As a figurative or extended rendering of luridus the Old English interpretation sa[r] ([12.sup.v] 17) is not implausible. The gloss wif([13.sup.v] 6) is unproblematic; its proper lemma is not clear.

The interpretation bloeig to axatum is not elsewhere recorded but its purpose is made clearer by the context in Felix: . . . et ut brevi sermone concludam, aper grunnitum, lupus ululatum, equus hinnitum, cervus axatum, serpens sibilum, bos balatum, corvus crocitum ad turbandum veri Dei rerum militem horrisonis vocibus stridebant (Colgrave, 114). While at prayer one night Guthlac is tormented by the apparition of a herd of beasts, each sounding out its characteristic cry. The terms for their cries in the Latin are conventional and onomatopoeic. The Old English rendering of the stag's cry (cervus axatum) seems at least intended as onomatopoeic. Colgrave rendered the phrase 'the belling of the stag' (115), a rendering that may have some etymological relation to the gloss. Though not elsewhere attested in the dictionaries or concordances, Old English bloeig may have some support in the ultimately connected origins of terms for the animal cry sounds bell, bellow, and bleat. OED records the obsolete (excepting dialectal usage) blea 'To bleat as a lamb or kid' (and 'Prob[ably] imitative of the sound'; s.v. blea); recorded also are the participial forms blaying and bleying, both deriving from blay, itself a variant form of blea(t).(8) Under bleat the Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology(9) records the dialectal form (s. xvi) blea and lists among the cognates Middle High German bloejan ('bloken', 'bleat') and Latin balare ('bleat').(10) Bellow is traced to Old English belgan (Anglian), bielgan (West Saxon), and bylgan (late OE), and connected to Old English bellan, whence bell. Further cognates and connections are offered by Holthausen, Altenglisches etymologisches Worterbuch (s.v. bellan, cross-referenced with belle and bylgan) and Jan de Vries, Altnordisches etymologisches Worterbuch (s.v. belja).(11) These are brought together in Julius Pokorny's Indogermanisches etymologisches Worterbuch, s.vv. *bhel- ('brullen, bellen'), bhle- ('bloken'; cited again is MHG bloejen), and ble- ('bloken'). While the gloss may be no more than a nonce word, an imitative one at that, there is enough etymological support to admit the form as conceivably a rendering of the belling of a stag.

We now have a transcription of the brief twelfth-century glossary on the dorse of Bodleian, Norfolk Rolls 81.(12) Dr D. R. Howlett(13) has produced the first treatment of the full glossary, in the main a Latin-Latin glossary letters A - F with two Old French words and a little over a dozen in Old English. Whereas prior attempts at publishing the Old English glosses excerpted the glosses and lemmata,(14) Howlett's transcription allows us to see the context in which the glosses have been embedded. A difficult enough text to read, the roll has also been severely rubbed through the first half of letter A.

The glossary is comprised of entries written across the dorse of the membrane (a roll of charters from Holme St Benets, Norfolk) in long lines: A approximately 21 lines; B 7 lines; C 33 lines; D 7 lines; E 9 lines; F 13 lines. Examination of the roll under ultraviolet light largely fails to fill in the lost opening section to letter A, though fragmentary readings from the opening eight lines are given below; other readings that follow are cited by letter and entry number according to Howlett's transcription.


1 .... aliq<uo>d th<et> eri ... ap ...

2 .... qui a[d] ...

3 .... ad ... prec[.]

4 .... s .... sec<u>lo

5 .... sisse ... ral<is>

6 .... dona[(?).sub.7] ... s<e>c<un>d<um> . . . cu<m>


8 .... c<on>

9 A ... ca[r?] ... aui co ... i[m?] .. a[.]at .. miacus

[at 1. 9 Howlett's transcription begins]

Howlett D8 Dieticus ... causa infirmitatis a dieta] the roll has i<n>firmittatis

E 5 Edilitas uero. [.j.] dignitas est] under UV .j. seems to be ia(m)

F7 Futilis. uanus. superfluus. loquax. et est metaphora] roll has metephora

F21 Ferculum lecture quod portarii portant] roll: portari port<ant>

As Howlett notes, the 'polyglot' glossary in Norfolk Rolls 81 'illustrates the glossator's range of interests in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, English, and French, in etymology, orthography, accidence, grammatical gender, generic and numerical distinctions of sense, and distinction of homophones and homographs...' (86); it is also 'one of the oldest glossaries yet known to have been written in both French and English' (87). For those interested in the tradition of glossing Latin with Old English the roll represents a late stage of that tradition. Perhaps with the help of ultraviolet lighting more can be recovered of the opening of this glossary; what remains even more pressing is interpretation of its significance to the history of glossography and the development of English.

Similarly, the pursuit of Old English scratched glosses in manuscripts of the eighth through eleventh centuries, such as the Royal manuscripts considered above, will also help fill out somewhat more the picture of the earliest stages of the development of the lexicon of English. The recording of remaining glosses and the collection and systematization of the Latin-Old English and Latin-Latin entries in indexed format remain desiderata in the study of Old English.(15)

JOSEPH MCGOWAN University of San Diego

1 Arthur S. Napier, Old English Glosses. Chiefly Unpublished (Oxford, 1900); Herbert Dean Meritt, Old English Glosses (A Collection) (New York, 1945).

2 Descriptions of the manuscripts can be found in N. R. Ker, Catalogue of Manuscripts Containing Anglo-Saxon (Oxford, 1957). British Library MS Royal 5 E.xi has been described anew by Phillip Pulsiano, Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts in Microfiche Facsimile, vol. 4, Glossed Texts, Aldhelmiana, Psalms (Binghamton, 1996), 51-4. Royal 13 A.xv was described by Colgrave in his edition of Felix, 28-30.

3 Recorded during the period 26 August 3 September 1997, under afternoon natural light conditions.

4 Cf. Aldhelmi Opera, ed. Rudolf Ehwald (1919), Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Auctores Antiquissimi, vol. 15, 228-9.

5 Felix's Life of Saint Guthlac, ed. B. Colgrave (Cambridge, 1956).

6 The -o of lurido corr. from -a.

7 Ostensibly tumultu is the appropriate lemma; as for the interpretation, one can compare ME unreken, 'unready'.

8 Cf. OED under blea, blay, bleat, bellow, bell (v. 4).

9 Ed. C. T Onions (Oxford, 1969).

10 And the later variant belare; cf. Alexander Souter, A Glossary of Later Latin to 600 A.D. (Oxford, 1949), s.v. belo.

11 2nd edn, Leiden, 1977.

12 Cf. Ker, Catalogue, no. 347.

13 'A polyglot glossary of the twelfth century', in 'De mot en mot' Aspects of medieval linguistics: Essays in Honour of William Rothwell, ed. Stewart Gregory and D. A. Trotter (Cardiff, 1997), 81-91.

14 Cf. James L. Rosier, 'Old English Glosses in Norfolk Rolls 81', Neuphilologische Mitteilungen, lxxxiv (1983), 329-330; P. Bierbaumer reviews select glosses from this article in 'Research into Old English Glosses: A Critical Survey', in Problems of Old English Lexicography (Studies in Memory of Angus Cameron), ed. Alfred Bammesberger (Eichstatt, 1985), 65-77.

15 A plea for the systematic study of these early glossaries, their indexing, the restoration of context to the particular entries, and the investigation of the purposes of these texts has been made by R.I. Page, 'More Old English Scratched Glosses', Anglia, xcvii (1979), 27-9, and Bierbaumer (1988), 65-6, 71.

Many thanks are due to Ms Janet Backhouse, Curator of Illuminated Manuscripts at the British Library, and Dr Bruce Barker-Benfield, Senior Assistant Librarian of the Bodleian Library at Oxford, for permission to consult manuscripts cited here. Dr Martin Kauffman of the Bodleian Library also provided gracious assistance with the consultation of Norfolk Rolls 81. The consultation of these manuscripts was made under the auspices of the Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts in Microfiche Facsimile Project, which is supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
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Title Annotation:textual annotations
Author:McGowan, Joseph
Publication:Notes and Queries
Date:Jun 1, 1998
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