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OLD & MIDDLE ENGLISH

Edited by Segolene Gence, Anna-Nadine Pike, and Fay West with contributions from Dr Daniella Gonzalez.

Welcome to our page dedicated to Old English and Middle English. In this section you will find linguistic tools and dictionaries to help you approach Old English and Middle English corpus. If you wish to explore our literature pages dedicated to the Early Medieval period and to the Late Medieval period in England, please click on the following buttons.

Old English
Middle English

Old English
 

Old English was the vernacular language in England between ca. 500 and ca. 1150.  It was used for a variety of types of texts and documents including charters, chronicles, hagiography, poetry, riddles, sermons and more. It was also common for Latin texts to be translated into English. The language itself was influenced by many other languages from cultures and peoples living in England, including Celtic, Old Norse and Latin. Though this list comprises of resources to aid in learning and translating the language only, you will find relevant materials on Old English texts and Early Medieval England on our Early Medieval Studies page.

Baker's Magic Sheet - The one stop shop for Old English grammar.  Created by Dr Peter S. Baker to supplement his book Introduction to Old English, the sheet (PDF) allows one to find at a glance the grammatical information and inflections for pronouns, articles, nouns, verbs, adjectives and more.

Bosworth-Toller Dictionary of Old English -  The main dictionary for Old English. This project, initiated in 2001, digitises the work An Anglo-Saxon dictionary, based on the manuscript collections of the late Joseph Bosworth (first edition 1898), together with its Supplement (ed. 1921), edited by J. Bosworth and T. Northcote Toller.

 

Corpus of Narrative Etymologies (The University of Edinburgh) - Developed by the compilers of LAEME (Linguistic Atlas of Early Middle English), CoNE and its accompanying Corpus of Changes (CC) record specific developments in language, whether orthographical, phonological, or morphological, through which the earliest forms of Old English developed into those recorded in LAEME.

 

The Dictionary of Old English - The DOE covers the period 600-1150, and is a project from the University of Toronto designed to complement the Middle English Dictionary (1100-1500) and the Oxford English Dictionary.

 

The Épinal-Erfurt Glossary Project - The Épinal-Erfurt Glossary provides a Latin-Old English glossary as preserved in Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, MS 144. The Project is ongoing, and letters A-D have currently been edited. The Glossary is also available in its entirety through the Internet Archive, as Latin-Anglo-Saxon Glossary, from the MS 144, preserved in the Library of Corpus Christ College, Cambridge, edited by J. H Hessels (Cambridge, 1890).

 

Gersum - The Scandinavian Influence on English Vocabulary. Database of words in major late Middle English poems derived from Old Norse. 

Mapping Metaphor: Metaphor Map of Old English - This project by Glasgow University produced between 2012 and 2015 allows one to view metaphorical links and connections between Old English words and concepts. The project also has an equivalent metaphor map for modern English.

 

Napier’s Old English Lexicography - Napier, Arthur S., Contributions to old English lexicography (Hertford: Printed by Stephen Austin & Sons, 1906).

Old English Aerobics - Companion Website to Peter S. Baker's Introduction to Old English. This site has resources on Old English grammar including practice exercises. It also contains an anthology of a selection of Old English texts, complete with information of definitions and grammatical forms of most words within the texts.

 

The Old-English Dictionary A online version of the PhD Thesis by Mary L. Johnson, A Modern English - Old English Dictionary, first published in 1927. 

Old English Grammar - Companion website to Murray's Gentle Introduction to Old English, contains an interactive anthology of texts, exercises and grammatical information.

Old English Grammar Bytes - A short lecture series on YouTube by Dr Thijs Porck (Leiden University) which teaches Old English grammar, including cases and gender, nouns, adjectives and verbs. His personal blog also contains interesting information on the language and its uses.

Old English Readings - A YouTube Channel which gives readings with proper pronunciation of Old English literature and modern works translated into Old English read by Dr Peter S. Baker.

Old English Translator - Developed by Phil Bartram, this translator can work out the meaning and grammatical information of Old English words, including inflections. On translation, it will give a table of all the inflections of that word according to case, number and/or tense. It can also translate from Modern English to Old English.

Old English Wordhord - Starting off as a twitter which is still fully active, this website by Dr Hana Videen posts an Old English word daily. The website allows users to search by category.  There is also a mobile phone app which not only gives the word of the day, but also allows users to search categories and listen to their pronunciation.


A Thesaurus of Old English - edited by Jane Roberts and Christian Kay with Lynee Grundy at University of Glasgow, this online thesaurus allows users to pinpoint the range of meanings of an Old English word throughout its history, their synonyms, and their relationship to words of more general or more specific meaning.

Teachers of Old English in Britain and Ireland - TOEBI brings together a selection of language resources, manuscript collections, full texts and links to blogs and other media, curated for the teaching of Old English literature and language.

Middle English

In this section, you will notice that some resources touch upon different time periods for Middle English. It is in fact because Middle English is considered to have evolved over three stages: Early Middle English from the twelfth to mid-thirteenth century, Central Middle English from the mid-thirteenth to the end of the fourteenth century, and Late Middle English in the fifteenth century. The Central Middle English period, for example, saw the formation of literary and regional dialects (such as the London dialect displayed in Chaucer's writings) as well as an increased assimilation of Anglo-Norman vocabulary into its lexis. On this note, it is important to remember that Old English and Middle English were not the only languages spoken in England over the course of its medieval history, and languages such as Latin, Anglo-Norman, and Cornish were also commonly spoken across different periods of time in medieval England. 

Linguistic Atlas of Late Medieval English (LALME), University of Edinburgh - The project maps local dialectal variations in English spellings between 1325 and 1450, with sources examined having unique ‘LALME’ numbers for quick identification. The site includes an index of sources examined, maps, the linguistic profiles of individual geographical areas, and dictionaries by county. A valuable resource when considering regional linguistic variety or specificity, or the geographical origin of a particular text. 

 

See also the Linguistic Atlas of Early Medieval English, 1150-1325 (LAEME), available here.

 

See also the Linguistic Atlas of Older Scots, 1380-1500 (LAOS), available here.

Please note that, although the above-mentioned platforms are associated together, Old Scot is a linguistic and literary tradition, different from English literary tradition and northern dialects.

 

Middle English Compendium - Contains the following online resources: the Middle English Dictionary, a Bibliography of Middle English prose and verse, and a Corpus of Middle English Prose and Verse.

Middle English Dictionary - The MED offers a valuable database of English lexicon and usage between 1100 and 1500, and is part of the Middle English Compendium by the University of Michigan. 

 

Middle English Grammar Corpus - A corpus of samples of English texts dated from 1300-1500, from the University of Stavanger. The corpus uses texts localised through LALME, but also incorporates earlier texts, and those showing non-regional varieties of Middle English. A manual for use, catalogues, and the corpus itself, in a readable format, are all downloadable from the main site, above.

Other Medieval Languages

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Resource page last updated by Fay West on 18/7/23

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