Middle English Word of the Moment

Monday, November 3, 2008

The joy of Middle English glossaries

They serve a useful purpose: they tell you what words mean.

But they also serve a much more worthy purpose: they give you words out of the context that gives them some kind of sense, leaving them alone and unnaturally exposed and... quaint. It's been so long since I looked at a Middle English word and thought it was quaint. But here:

abayinge: barking. Of course it is. That's what my dog does if people do something suspicious like dare to walk past the house after dark, or if his Samoyed friend next door gets a shave for the summer weather. He does this to hide his baishtnesse (perplexity) and the fact that he is also somewhat adaunted (subdued), and to seem like a misterman (kind of man). I suspect if he were ever to meet a moldewerp (mole), his reaction would be similar.

Now, if only I could work out the html to make a widget that would generate a different Middle English word and definition each time the page was refreshed.

All from the glossary in Avril Henry's edition of the anonymous Middle English translation of Guillaume de Deguileville's The pilgrimage of the lyfe of the manhode. (Early English Text Society, London: Oxford University Press, 1985), vol. II. Her glosses, of course, relate only to the usage of the words in the text itself.

2 comments:

Lady D. said...

A widget like that would be brilliant! Perhaps you could find some sort of techie site and request one. I'm sure there are plenty of people who do that sort of thing for fun!

Ceirseach said...

I'm in the process of building it, actually! It's in the sidebar, gradually being augmented by more words from different glosses as I have time.