Tag Archives: Middle English

Why the DMNES? Part 1: Filling a lacuna

Recently there has been significant interest in compiling word dictionaries of various medieval languages, cf., e.g., the Middle English Dictionary, various dictionaries of Old French such as those found here, the Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources, the Dictionary of Medieval Latin from Celtic Sources, the Anglo-Norman Dictionary, the Dictionary of the Scots Language, the Dictionnaire Étymologique de l’Ancien Français, etc., and here we can count even the Oxford English Dictionary.

These dictionaries, however, do not include given names in their citations, except incidentally (cf., e.g., personal names where the bynames are used as attestations of Middle English words in the MED). The DMNES will fill this lacuna, providing examples of words (names) which are not otherwise included in these historical dictionaries.

There are a number of disparate audiences for whom filling this lacuna can be beneficial. In the next parts of this series, we will discuss the various target audiences of the Dictionary.

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It’s No Joke!

Today, the creation of dictionary entries began in earnest. While the details of the database back-end are still to be hammered out, the structure of the entries is now sufficiently settled that the editorial team is able to begin the process of collecting the information that will go into the entry for each header name, and to create the files for those entries. With an extensive list of possibilities to choose from, since we are drawing our initial data from Dr. Uckelman’s Database of Medieval Names, it’s hard to decide where to begin. For my own part, I decided to begin with three lovely and moderately unusual names which are linked through their meanings: Old French (and also Middle English) Douce, Italian Soave, and Dutch Zoete, all of which mean ‘sweet’. I also decided it was only right and proper that I at least begin to write the entry on Sara; I expect most of the rest of the editorial team will also be keen to write the entries on their own names!

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