New Texts Added to the Corpus of Middle English

The University of Michigan’s Corpus of Middle English Texts is one of the most useful text depositories on the Internet. It’s right up there with CELT, in my book. And it’s now even better; they’ve added another 85 texts to the 65 that were already up there. Now, these texts are all searchable, and many of them are linked to pull page images of the books from which the texts are derived.

The complete list of 145 texts is here. There are gems that you won’t find in a surprising number of academic libraries, like The babees book, Aristotle’s A B C, Urbanitatis, Stans puer ad mensam, The lvtille childrenes lvtil boke, The bokes of nurture of Hugh Rhodes and John Russell, Wynkyn de Worde’s Boke of keruynge, The booke of demeanor, The boke of curtasye, Seager’s Schoole of vertue, &c.; &c;, edited by Frederick J. Furnivall for the EETS. In it you may find “A fest for a franklen” from John Russell’s Boke of Nurture:

“A Franklen may make a feste Improberabille,
brawne with mustard is concordable,
bakon serued with peson,
beef or moton stewed seruysable,
Boyled Chykon or capon agreable,
convenyent for þe seson;
Rosted goose & pygge fulle profitable,
Capon / Bakemete, or Custade Costable,
when eggis & crayme be geson.
Þerfore stuffe of household is behoveable,
Mortrowes or Iusselle ar delectable
for þe second course by reson.
Than veel, lambe, kyd, or cony,
Chykon or pigeon rosted tendurly,
bakemetes or dowcettes with alle.
Þen followynge, frytowrs & a leche lovely;
Suche seruyse in sesoun is fulle semely
To serue with bothe chambur & halle.

I’m pleased to see that the Tolkien, Gordon and Davis 1967 edition of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is available (even if it is just the text, not the notes or glossary). I’m also very glad to see all eight of the Chaucer Society single mss. (all the main mss.) of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales are now available.

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Digital Medieval Manuscript Editions

One of my very first interests in terms of computers and scholarship was the potential of digital editions; I wrote about it a bit in my “What’s a Digital Medievalist” page. On my static web site, I have a page on digitizing manuscripts, one on Celtic medieval manuscripts, and one on manuscripts in general. I’ve been bookmarking sites for a while, thinking I’d update those pages, but digital manuscript editions are fortunately increasingly common, and I’m pretty preoccupied right now. My current obsession, and the necessity of paying tuition fees, mean that I’m not going to be updating those pages until next year.

Thanks to, I’ve started accumulating links to complete digital manuscripts, and making them publicly available. I’m not trying to be complete about this, and I’m not trying to bookmark the individual manuscripts of frame-based sites like the excellent Irish Script on Screen site for Irish mss. I’m also not really tracking digital manuscripts that are Latin only; I’m a vernacular person. Mostly. I’ll add links if people send them to me. I’m not including the flash-based sites, like the otherwise excellent British Library Turning the Pages manuscripts. The Digital Manuscripts links page is here, and there’s an .RSS feed you can subscribe to, so you’ll be notified of updates.

Late Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts on the Web

I’m still working on the, you know thing, but I stumbled across the Late Medieval and Renaissance Illuminated Manuscripts – Books of Hours 1400-1530 guide from The Institute for the Study of Illuminated Manuscripts in Denmark, and wanted to point it out. And while I’m posting, I ought to mention this article which discusses the British Library’s recent purchases of three of the missing leaves from the Sforza Hours. While you’re at the British Library’s site, you should definitely visit their Illuminating the Renaissance site about Flemish manuscript painting.

Shakespeare’s Quartos, Digitized

The British Library has digitized its collection of 93 copies of the 21 plays by Shakespeare printed in quarto before the theatres were closed in 1642. Shakespeare’s plays appear to have been first printed in 1594. Titus Andronicus was probably the first one. Eighteen of Shakespeare’s plays were published in quarto editions before he died in 1616. Quartos are small and very portable (think modern paperback) books that were made by folding a large sheet of paper into quarters. The first collected “official” printing of Shakespeare’s plays was the 1623 “first folio” edition of 36 plays by Shakespeare. The first folio was a production of Shakespeare’s friends, including actors from his company. The quartos are important because they’re typically the earliest, and hence presumably closest to Shakespeare’s own, versions of the plays. Some of them appear to have been versions that were edited for specific audiences, like the so-called “bad quartos” of Hamlet.

Celtic Fonts and Backgrounds

From a rough analysis of my logs and the stats collected by Site Meter the most popular interior page of my site is the one on Celtic Fonts, and the most frequently entered search phrase, in terms of my Celtic Studies Resources is “Celtic backgrounds.” Now, I’m not positive, but I’m pretty sure the people searching on “Celtic backgrounds” are not seeking Celtic cultural history, but rather, web backgrounds. That said, I’ve created an annotated page of links to sites with Celtic inspired web art here.

Celtica in PDF

Celtica, an excellent scholarly journal on Celtic Studies published by the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies has, for several years, made the more recent volumes available on the web as downloadable and printable .pdf files. Currently the last three volumes are available here. I can’t say enough good things about this endeavor, and the value it offers both advanced scholars and students who may not be able to read Celtica at their libraries.

You need a .pdf reader in order to view or print these files. Adobe’s reader is availabler for a variety of platforms, including Mac, Linux, and Windows here at no charge.

In Dúil Bélrai

Dennis King has created “In Dúil Bélrai“, an antique term for a glossary. In this case, a new English – Old Irish glossary in the form of a searchable database, with over 5,000 Old and Middle Irish words, with a little Early Modern Irish mixed in. Dennis King writes to the Old Irish List “We’re still tinkering with it and adding new vocabulary, but we invite you all to give it a try.”

Scots wha’ Hae

Dave Winer points to a BBC story: “A new dictionary is being compiled which will put tens of thousands of Scots words dating back as far as 800 years on the Internet.” Sponsored by the University of Dundee, the project will created a web site for the online dictionary that will contain illustrative quotations for each word, necessitating at text archive. The acronym for the text archive (all such dictionaries must have acronyms!) will be (SCOTS)—the Scottish Corpus of Texts and Speech.

The resulting dictionary is a Scots version of things like the Oxford English Dictionary, the OED, or Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru, GPC, the Dictionary of the Welsh Language. These dictionaries trace words as they are used through time, with illustrative extracts showing the word as is was really used at various dates.

Scots, by the way, is a separate language, or at least a dialect. It is not English. It is sometimes called Lallans, or Traditional Scots, often called Braid Scots, the Doric, the Buchan Claik or the Moray Claik. It is not Scottish Standard English. Scots is sometimes referred to as a dialect of English, with ancestry in Old English, but given that there are distinct dialects within it, and distinct differences in syntax and vocabulary, I tend to think it’s closer to being a language than a dialect. It dates back to the middles ages as well, with poets like Robert Henryson, William Dunbar, and other so-called “Scottish Chaucerians“.