Aspects of Medieval English Language and Literature

Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference of the Society of Historical English Language and Linguistics

by Michiko Ogura (Volume editor) Hans Sauer (Volume editor)
©2018 Conference proceedings 340 Pages


This volume is a collection of papers read at the International Medieval Congress at Leeds in 2017, in two sessions organized by the Institute of English Studies at the University of London and four sessions organized by the Society of Historical English Language and Linguistics. Contributions consist of poetry, prose, interlinear glosses, syntax, semantics, lexicology, and medievalism. The contributors employ a wealth of different approaches. The general theme of the IMC 2017 was ‘otherness’, and some papers fit this theme very well. Even when two researchers deal with a similar topic and arrive at different conclusions, the editors do not try to harmonize them but present them as they are for further discussion.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title Page
  • Copyright Page
  • Dedication
  • Contents
  • List of Abbreviations
  • Editions and Publications
  • Texts, Glosses and Manuscripts
  • Dictionaries and Corpora
  • Biblical Books
  • Languages
  • Other Abbreviations
  • Maps and Pictures
  • Preface and Acknowledgements
  • I Poetry
  • II Prose
  • III Interlinear glosses
  • IV Syntax
  • V Semantics and Lexicology
  • VI Medievalism
  • Part I
  • 1 The composition of ‘auxiliary + main verb’ constructions in Old English poetry
  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 Database
  • 3 Alliteration and order of modal and non-finite verbs
  • 4 Correspondence between the verse and prose versions
  • 4.1 No match
  • 4.2 Exact match
  • 4.3 Modification of word order
  • 5 Correspondence between Old Saxon Genesis 1-26a and Genesis B 790–817a
  • 6 Conclusion
  • 2 The Significance of nacod nið-draca (Beowulf 2273a) Reconsidered: The Metaphorical Link Interconnecting fire, swords, warriors and monsters
  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 Polysemous Compounds
  • 3 rinc and aglæca
  • 4 bitan and swelgan
  • 5 Monsters are Snakes
  • 6 Swords are Snakes
  • 7 Dragon as Fire and Warrior
  • 8 Conclusion: draca sweorde gelicost, nacod æt niðe
  • 3 Brunanburh Located: The Battlefield and the Poem
  • Part II
  • 4 Ælfric’s Polemic of Orthodoxy versus Error:: An Analysis of the Name-Game
  • 5 From Verb Simplexes to Periphrastic ‘Modal Verb + Infinitive’ Constructions: A Semantic and Syntactic Study of the OE Boethius, with Reference to the Four Poems in the Junius Manuscript11I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to Dr. John Scahill, Teacher at Insearch, the University of Technology, Sydney, for his suggestions for improving my writing style.
  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 The OE Boethius
  • 3 The four poems in the Junius Manuscript: Gen A/B, Ex, Dan, and Sat
  • 4 Summary
  • 6 The design and implementation of a pilot parallel corpus of Old English
  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 Previous research and overview of the project
  • 3 Lexicographical and textual knowledge bases
  • 4 The pilot corpus
  • 5 Some compilation issues
  • 6 Summary and conclusion
  • Acknowledgements
  • 7 The magical human-animal or the monstrous female in Le Roman de Melusine
  • Part III
  • 8 Aldred’s combinations with efne, eft and ymb: their status (word-formation, glossing device, or both), and their treatment in dictionaries
  • 1 Introduction: The Lindisfarne Gospels and their Old English gloss
  • 2 Treatment of efne-, eft- and ymb- in dictionaries and glossaries
  • 2.1 Efne
  • 2.2 Eft
  • 2.3 Ymb
  • 3 Word-classes
  • 4 Aldred’s new formations
  • 5 Possible criteria for word-status: Word-division; inflection; non-interruptability, etc.
  • 5.1 Word-division
  • 5.2 Morphology: Non-inflection
  • 5.3 Non-interruptability
  • 6 Word-formational aspects
  • 6.1 Compounds, quasi-compounds or prefix-formations?
  • 6.2 Compound or syntactic group?
  • 6.3 Combinations of efne- and eft- with prefixed words
  • 7 Glossing aspects: Relation of Latin lemma and OE gloss
  • 7.1 Latin lemma
  • 7.2 Semantic structure of the Latin lemmata and of the OE glosses
  • 8 Loan-formations
  • 9 Double glosses
  • 10 Conclusion
  • Appendix
  • 9 How Free the Translation could be: Choices of Verb Forms in Lindisfarne and Rushworth Versions of the Gospels11This title is deliberately modified and used by the present author from Cassidy (1965).
  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 The use of auxiliaries
  • 3 In the ut-clause
  • 4 In single or double gloss
  • 5 Eaþe mæg
  • 6 Summary
  • 10 Reconsideration of the Development of English Third Person Plural Pronouns: An Analysis of the Use of Personal and Demonstrative Pronouns in Old English Biblical Glosses
  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 Possible influence of the ON pronoun paradigms on their OE counterparts
  • 3 Data collection
  • 3.1 Material
  • 3.2 Methodology
  • 4 Results
  • 4.1 Gloss to the Lindisfarne Gospels
  • 4.2 Other versions of the OE Gospels (Ru1, WSCp, and WSH)
  • 4.3 OE Psalter Glosses (PsGlA and PsGlD)
  • 5 Summary of results and concluding remarks
  • Part IV
  • 11 Ambiguity between the BE Perfect and the BE Passive in Old English11This study is supported by Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research on Innovative Areas #4903 (Evo linguistics), 17H06379, by MEXT, Japan and JSPS Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research (C), JP17K02824.
  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 The BE (beon/wesan/weorþan) + PP (Past Participle) Construction
  • 2.1 BE (beon/wesan/weorþan) + PP (tr.)
  • 2.2 BE (beon/wesan/weorþan) + PP (intr.)
  • 2.3 BE (beon/wesan/weorþan) + PP (tr./intr.)
  • 3 beon/wesan + geþuht(e)
  • 4 beon/wesan + geworden
  • 5 The structural change of the BE + PP construction
  • Appendix
  • 12 Old English Magan: An Expression of Adhortative Wish
  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 Framework
  • 2.1 Dynamic modality
  • 2.2 VOLITION and adhortative notion
  • 3 Declarative ‘(Ne) magan + we + infinitive’ in Old English texts
  • 3.1 Magan with infinitive and uton with infinitive
  • 3.2 Analysis of ‘(Ne) magan + we + infinitive’
  • 3.2.1 ABILITY
  • 3.2.2 VOLITION with verbs of saying
  • 3.2.3 Adhortative usage
  • (i) gehyran secgan ‘to hear tell’ or gehyran ‘to hear’
  • (ii) ongitan ‘to understand’
  • (iii) gehycgan ‘to think’
  • (iv) to gemydum habban ‘to have in memory’
  • 4 Discussion: semantic change of magan in ‘(Ne) magan + we + infinitive’
  • 5 Conclusion
  • Part V
  • 13 Some thoughts about the Old English weaving and spinning terms
  • 14 The Language of the Early Culinary Instructions
  • 1 Overview of publications
  • 2 The language of cookery
  • 2.1 Verbs specifying the manner of treating ingredients
  • 2.2 Measurements
  • 2.3 Names of dishes
  • 2.4 Herbs and spices
  • 2.5 Instruments and utensils
  • 3 Conclusion
  • 15 Why did people oust folk and lede?
  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 Old English words denoting people
  • 2.1 leode
  • 2.2 folc
  • 2.3 þeod
  • 3 Middle English
  • 3.1 Middle English folc, lede, þed(e)
  • 3.2 Manuscript variation
  • 4 The rise of people in English
  • 4.1 First English attestations of people
  • 4.2 Old French and Anglo-Norman gen(t)z vs. peuple
  • 4.3 The grammaticalization of tout (le) peuple, tout le monde
  • 4.4 Cursor mundi manuscript variation
  • 4.5 The demise of folk(s)
  • 4 Conclusion
  • Part VI
  • 16 Reviving a Past Language Stage: Modern Takes on Old English
  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 Authentic Old English
  • 3 Neo-Old English
  • 4 Pseudo-Old English
  • 5 Mock-Old English
  • 6 Updated Old English
  • 7 Modern Anglo-Saxonist Poetry
  • 8 Conclusion
  • Contributors

Maps and Pictures


Map 1:England

Map 2:Northern England During the Roman Period

Map 3:Lanchester and the River Browney


Figure 1:Metaphorical Links among FIRE, SWORD, WARRIOR and MONSTER with Dragon at the center of the interrelation

Figure 1:Text segmentation and identification in the DOEC.

Figure 2:Extract from the textual information found on Medicina de quadrupedibus in the HC.

Figure 3:The beginning of Ælfric´s Homily for the First Sunday in Lent in XML (DOEC).

Figure 4:Morphological annotation in the YCOE.

Figure 5:Syntactic parsing in the YCOE.

Figure 6:Flow chart of the tasks of corpus compilation.

Figure 7:The database Nerthus.

Figure 8:The database Freya.

Figure 9:The lemmatiser Norna.

Figure 10:Database architecture, files and fields.

Figure 11:The static presentation.

Figure 12:The dynamic presentation.

Figure 1:The Rise of Resultative Perfect in OE

Figure 2:The Development of the BE+PP Construction

Figure 3:From Resultative Perfect to Dynamic Passive

Figure 1:ABILITY & VOLITION (& Adhortative)

Figure 1:Diagram of Warp Weighted Loom. Based on a drawing in Walton Rogers (1997: 29, figure 2.21); from Petty (2014). 

Figure 2:Utrecht, Universiteitsbibliotheek, 32 (Script. eccl. 484), f. 84r. To the right of Hezekiah's palace is a shelter beneath which four women are busy at weaving. 

Figure 3:Different types of weaving tablets. Artefacts owned by the National Museum of Scotland. See Petty (2014: 56, figure 21).

Figure 4:Tablet weaving. Drawing: Knudsen (2012: 254).

Preface and Acknowledgements

This volume is a collection of papers read at the International Medieval Congress (IMC) at Leeds in 2017; all papers were revised and updated for publication. The papers come from six sessions, namely two sessions organized by the Institute of English Studies (IES) at the University of London, and four sessions organized by the Society of Historical English Language and Linguistics (SHELL). We are grateful to Joyce Hill, Professor Emerita at the University of Leeds (and one of the founders of the IMC), and to Jane Roberts, Emeritus Professor, Institute of English Studies, University of London, for helping to set up those sessions. Our thanks are also due to Michio Hosaka, Professor at Nihon University, for his assistance in preparing the present volume for publication, and furthermore to Jacek Fisiak, Professor Emeritus at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan. Professor Fisiak has not only accepted this volume for publication in his series ‘Studies in English Medieval Language and Literature’ (SEMLL), but he has also been a constant supporter of SHELL since 2003, and he helped to make the fifth international conference of SHELL a part of the IMC sessions in 2017. The maps were designed by Vera Falck from the Geography Department of the University of Munich (LMU); we thank her and Prof. Wolfram Mauser, head of the same department, for their help. Our thanks are also due to our speakers who revised and submitted their papers on various aspects of Medieval English language, literature, culture, and literacy - ‘Language, Literature and Literacy’ actually was the theme of the sections organized by SHELL. The contributors come not only from Japan, but also from the United Kingdom, Germany, Norway, Poland, and Spain; this shows once more how international scholarship is and has always been.

We have arranged the contributions into six groups, namely I) poetry; II) prose; III) interlinear glosses; IV) syntax; VI) semantics and lexicology; VII) medievalism. Whereas the papers in the groups dealing with poetry, interlinear glosses, and syntax concentrate on Old English, the groups dealing with prose and with semantics and lexicology contain papers on Old English and on Middle English. Medievalism reverses the perspective and looks on Old English (and Middle English) from the present.

The contributors employ a wealth of different approaches, and the papers and the sections could therefore also have been arranged differently: the papers by Suzuki, Yamamoto, Ogura and Kaita, for example, analyse the use of modal auxiliaries; the papers by Sikorska and Traxel deal with modern perspectives on Medieval language and literature. The general theme of the IMC 2017 was ‘Otherness’; the contributions that fit this theme particularly well are those by Watanabe (the dragon in Beowulf), by Hill (Ælfric quoting patristic authorities in order to defend Christian orthodoxy against errors and heresy), and by Sikorska (Melusine as a shape-shifter who only partly belongs to the human sphere) – but obviously we had to stick to one arrangement. Some of the contributions also show (especially those by Suzuki and Yamamoto) that even if two researchers deal with a similar topic, they often arrive at different conclusions. We have not tried to harmonize those but present them for further discussion. In the following we sketch the most important features of the contributions (or at least some of their most striking features).


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2019 (January)
English language and Literature Linguistics
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2018. 333 pp., 20 fig. b/w, 33 tables, 3 maps

Biographical notes

Michiko Ogura (Volume editor) Hans Sauer (Volume editor)

Michiko Ogura is Professor of English at Tokyo Woman’s Christian University, Japan. Her special field are Old and Middle English syntax and word studies. Her publications includes Words and Expressions of Emotion in Medieval English (2013) and Periphrases in Medieval English (2018). Hans Sauer is Emeritus Professor of English at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU) in Munich, Germany. His research interests and publications include editions and studies of Medieval texts, word-formation, glosses, glossaries and lexicography, plant names, Beowulf, interjections, binomials, and the history of linguistics and English studies.


Title: Aspects of Medieval English Language and Literature
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341 pages