Volume Four

County Dictionary

ANGUS McINTOSH, University of Edinburgh
M.L. SAMUELS, University of Glasgow
MICHAEL BENSKIN, University of Oslo
with the assistance of Margaret Laing and Keith Williamson
University of Edinburgh



1. General character

1.1 The County Dictionary is in the first instance an index to the Linguistic Profiles––the completed and codified copies of the survey questionnaire––printed in volume III of this work; but, like the Index of Joseph Wright’s English Dialect Grammar, it is implicitly a record of geographical distributions. The following paragraphs describe its format, applications, and organisation. The information on the counties and other divisions recognised, on LP numbers and on editorial principles, is repeated from the introductions to the Index of Sources (in volume I) and the Linguistic Profiles (volume III); the present volume may thus be used independently, without cross-reference. A map showing the locations of the survey points with an index of the linguistic profiles assigned to them appears on p. 333.

2. Format

2.1 For each of the test-items on the survey questionnaire, the recorded variants are listed in alphabetical order. The item-names are printed in bold capitals, and follow the order of the linguistic profiles (hereafter ‘LPs’); the variant forms are in bold lower case, and each form is the first word in a new block of text. After each variant so listed, there follows an alphabetically ordered list of the counties or other specified areas in which the variant is believed to occur. Each county or area so listed is followed in turn by a record of those of its LPs in which that variant appears; the LPs are identified by their key-numbers, and for each county they are listed in numerical order. The relative frequency in which the variant is recorded for a given LP is indicated by the same three-term system of parentheses used within the LPs (as printed in volume III), save that the system is here applied to the key-numbers of the LPs rather than to the forms themselves. If the LP number is unmarked, then for the item in that LP, the variant is dominant. If the LP number is enclosed in single parentheses, then the variant occurs with a relative frequency of between, roughly, 33% and 66% of that of the dominant form. Relative frequencies lower than 33% are registered by enclosing the LP number within double parentheses.

3. Linguistic profile numbers

3.1 Any LP key-number in the range 5000–9999 indicates a LP belonging to the SOU corpus. NOR LPs have reference numbers from 1–1999. Any LP number in the series 4000–4999 is a conflation, the result of merging a codified SOU LP with a codified NOR LP.

3.2 Sub-profiles.

In the SOU corpus, there are several LPs to which are appended sub-profiles. These arise when two or more scribes contributing to the same manuscript, perhaps turn and turn about, write substantially the same type of language, for which language a single local origin can be assumed. The main profile represents the usage of just one of the scribes, and, for his language, is comprehensive. The language of the other scribe(s) is represented only in so far as it differs from that of the main informant.

In volume III the sub-profiles are not printed as separate inventories, but are incorporated in the main profile. In the present volume, LPs so affected are recognisable from the form of their identification numbers. These consist of four figures greater than 5000, but unlike other SOU LP numbers they do not end in 0. The main profile has a key-number ending in 1; subsidiary profiles have key-numbers ending in the range 2–9. So, for example, 5171 has the subsidiary profile numbers 5172, 5173, 5174. If the form recorded is attested in a subsidiary profile, the LP will be identified by the sub-number. However, in volume III the corresponding LP must be located through the main profile number.

3.3 Conflations.

LPs whose numbers are in the range 4000–4999 represent a geographical overlap of the NOR and SOU versions of the survey questionnaire. The area of overlap is a belt across the Midlands, which broadens eastward to include all of Norfolk and the northern edge of Suffolk. Accordingly, each of some sixty LPs rests upon two separate analyses, one of which yields a NOR LP, the other a SOU LP. The two LPs are codified separately, and then conflated computationally to produce a LP in the 4000 series. Such a LP contains, in addition to the common core items, the items collected only from NOR texts plus the items collected only from SOU texts. Except for the common core items, therefore, conflation represents a simple extension of the questionnaire. Conflation in respect of common core items, however, is less straightforward. If precisely the same stretch of text had been analysed for NOR as for SOU, and if the performance of the two analysts were identical, then conflation would involve no more than the printing, item by item, of just one of the two identical records. In practice, however, the records are usually similar but not identical. (For fuller details of the procedure see the introduction to volume III, section 8.)

4. Applications

4.1 The distributions of those variants registered in the LPs but for which no maps have been presented, may still be conveniently ascertained. Indeed, Joseph Wright’s English Dialect Grammar offers no other type of regional presentation, but it remains an invaluable and easily-used synopsis. It may of course be objected that, from a linguistic point of view, county boundaries are mainly arbitrary, and that in any case the administrative unit affords only an approximation for describing geographical distributions. That is of course true, and the record presented by the County Dictionary must be used with due caution. When, for example, it is stated that a certain form occurs in Leicestershire, it is not to be understood, without further inquiry, that the form is the regualar usage of the whole county: from Bottesford, in the north-east, to Catthorpe, in the southern apex, is over forty miles, and in neither mediaeval nor modern times has dialectal usage over this area been uniform. Indeed, from the point of view of a natural, dialectal classification, there may be better justification for counting Bottesford as part of Nottinghamshire or Lincolnshire, and Catthorpe as part of Warwickshire or Northamptonshire. Obviously, the larger the county and the more heterogeneous its dialect patterns, the less satisfactory such an index becomes; among counties, Leicestershire is but of average size, and dialectally it is more uniform than many. The device of specifying parts of counties has nevertheless been avoided. Labels like ‘South-East Warwickshire’ have their drawbacks: for example, where does the southeast end and the south-west, or central, or some other part begin? The answer, if sensible, must in some degree depend on the particular distribution at issue, and consistency of geographical reference is hence elusive. Moreover, the use of such elaborate designations as ‘Far South-East Warwickshire on the Oxfordshire border’, even if resources permitted them to be coined for each of the n thousand or so forms listed, would defeat the aim of ready reference: the index would become impossibly cluttered and extensive.

In the County Dictionary, the number of LPs registered for a given county provides of itself a record of the frequency of attestation within that county for the form cited. Frequency of attestation and geographical range, however, are different things: the same number of LPs may indicate a widespread pattern that covers the whole of the county (LPs not here listed may simply lack evidence of any sort for the relevant item), or it may depend upon a heavy concentration confined to a particularly well-documented quarter of that same county. The locations of the cited LPs must themselves be known if distributions represented in this way are to be properly interpreted. The key here is the map on p. 333, on which appear the LP numbers in their assigned locations, and the county boundaries as they are assumed by the present descriptions. Since, in the County Dictionary, LP numbers are found only in lists that begin with the name of the county to which they belong, any LP location is already roughly defined; but to facilitate reference, especially where counties are large or densely documented, a list of all LP numbers appears on pp. 327–331, each with its grid references on the map. Note, however, that LPs assigned to the category ‘NME’ do not appear on the map: this category consists of northern material which cannot, in the present state of knowledge, be localised with any confidence.

4.2 The County Dictionary provides an analytical supplement for each dot map (volume I) which portrays the distribution not of some single variant, but of a class. It may be of particular interest to establish, for example, the distribution for thies as opposed to other forms of ‘these’ in which the stem vowel is written ie; and the dot maps for ‘these’ treat the ie forms as a single class. The peculiar distribution of thies, however, may be determined by reference to the County Dictionary, which lists the manuscript spellings individually. It will also be found that the Dictionary provides an economical diagnosis for the item maps (volume II). Although all of the information available for the item in question is entered on such a map, it is impossible to mark the map, whether by isoglosses or other display, in such a way that the distributions of all variants are made clear. Searching the map for occurrences of a specified form is time-consuming, and it is all too easy to overlook relevant instances; and the County Dictionary provides an exhaustive directory to all locations.

4.3 The County Dictionary provides a necessary control on the use of the dot maps. To return, for the sake of example, to the word ‘these’. The distribution of forms with ie as the stem vowel will be seen to overlap the distribution of forms with initial y (corresponding to þ or th). It is a reasonable inference that forms like yies occur, but it does not follow from these distributions that they do: the ie forms may in fact be confined to spellings with initial th, and in the ie domain, attestations of y may depend on the co-occurrence of thies with yes or yise; general statements about the separate segments of a word may be combined to generate unattested forms. Reference to the County Dictionary establishes that yies is in fact well-attested.

4.4 Northern distributions.

There is a large corpus of literary material which, though strongly northern and richly dialectal in character, has thus far proved impossible to localise. The reasons, in brief, are as follows. Firstly, for much of northern England the essential local documents are either lacking altogether, or so late and standardised as to be of no use as ‘anchor texts’. Secondly, to judge by the evidence of those local documents that are in solidly northern language, the Middle English of the north admitted much less internal variation than did the Middle English of comparably large areas of the Midlands and the south. Even allowing for the fact that the documentary vocabulary is fairly restricted, it is still remarkable that such extensive corpora as those for Cumbria and the East Riding of Yorkshire afford barely a half-dozen features that stamp the language of any of their constituent documents as belonging to one corpus rather than to the other. Thirdly, even though the language of the literary corpus is sufficiently differentiated to enable various schematic reconstructions of the northern dialect pattern, none of these has so far been convincingly related to the testimony of the documents and the few literary manuscripts of known local origins. It is at present a matter for speculation how far this may reflect (i) the impact of Scandinavian settlement, with concomitant disruption and overlay of an Anglo-Saxon dialectal continuum, and (ii) the discontinuous character of settlement, whether English or Scandinavian in origin, over those extensive regions where barren uplands are variously dissected by habitable dales.

The Atlas reflects a commitment to recording information for simple points, even though the locations of most of these points are only approximately known. Provided that the eligible area for a given location is fairly small, however, the fact of approximation is not damaging, and may even, in some cases, be trivial. When, however, the eligible area extends over a whole county, or comprises two or more districts widely separated from each other, then incorporation on maps of the present type is clearly impractical. The immediate result is that northern Middle English is poorly represented on both the item maps and the dot maps; in relation to the corpus of potentially localisable material, this under-representation is particularly disappointing.

The County Dictionary is an essential part of the geographical record presented by the Atlas: the extent to which a given form is characteristic in northern Middle English may still be ascertained, even though no adequate maps are available. For a conspectus of northern Middle English itself, as opposed to a record of the distributions of individual forms, recourse may be had to the LPs in volume III. Here, the section styled ‘Northern’ may be treated, for practical purposes, as an additional northern county.

5. Counties and other divisions recognised

5.1 The counties are the modern descendants of the mediaeval ones, substantially as they were before the local government reforms of 1974 (England and Wales) and 1975 (Scotland); but the ridings of Yorkshire and the City of York, the Isle of Ely, Soke of Peterborough, Middlesex and London are treated as separate divisions. ‘London’ here, although represented on the maps as the old County of London, means the mediaeval city and Westminster. Material designated ‘NME’ (Northern Middle English) belongs to northern England north of the Humber-Lune line.

5.2 Order of presentation.

As noted above, in each text-block showing the extent of a variant spelling, the counties are ordered alphabetically, but according to the full name of the county or other division, although these are presented in abbreviated form in the text. So, e.g., Bed..., Brk,..., Bck,..., Ely..., Nht..., Nbld... for, respectively, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Isle of Ely, Northamptonshire, Northumberland. A key to the abbreviations used with the key-numbers of all the associated LPs may be found on p. 332. The relative order of the divisions and of the LP numbers is that used in the Linguistic Profiles, volume III. First given are the counties of England, then of Wales, then of Scotland. Divisions which cannot be described by a county, or part of a county, follow the county sections of the relevant country of origin: so ‘NME’ (Northern) appears after ‘WRY’ (Yorkshire, West Riding), the last English division, but before ‘Crm’ (Carmarthen), the first Welsh county.

6. Editorial practice

6.1 The representation of mediaeval spellings is in principle diplomatic; but, if comparison with the practice of phonetic transcription be allowed, the renderings are broad rather than narrow.

6.2 Treatment of capital letters.

In the LPs, capitals and minuscules are not usually distinguished: the lower-case printed form implies either or both. Manuscript I ~ J, however, is reported always as I, never as i or j, unless the LP depends on an edition in which the mediaeval usage was incorrectly reported. In some of the SOU LPs, capital H-, and capital T- in the combination Th-, are distinguished.

H-. Late ME ‘it’ admits forms with and without intitial ‘h-’. In some southerly writings, ‘h-’ forms are preferred for apparently stressed positions, the ‘h-’less forms for unstressed positions. Forms with ‘h-’ may also be preferred at the beginning of a sentence, clause or line of verse, and there written H-; in such positions, H- need not imply a stressed variant. In SOU LPs, therefore, sentence, clause or line initial H- forms are segregated: an entry like it (Hit) implies that the selection of ‘h-’ and ‘h-’less forms is independent of stress; whereas in it (hit, Hit), variation between it and hit may well be stress-conditioned. In a more refined analysis, of course, stressed and unstressed occurrences would be systematically segregated. In NOR LPs, H- and h- forms are recorded indifferently with h-.

Th- is retained in LPs for texts in which capital Þ (or capital Y for ‘Þ’) is not used, Th- appearing instead. In LPs for texts where th- occurs regularly beside Th-, the capital Th- of the manuscript is reported as th-.

In SOU LPs only, F- has been distinguished from f-.

6.3 Treatment of i and j.

In classical and mediaeval tradition, i and j are merely variant forms (figurae) of the same letter (littera): j is ‘i-longa’. In the LPs, however, minuscule i and j are regularly distinguished. It should be noted, however, that in some manuscripts the two forms are not sharply distinguished, and that in particular cases it may be hard to decide whether a form is i rather than j; elements of judgement cannot be excluded altogether from the report. The correspondents of modern capital I and J are not distinguished in the manuscripts, and are reported here as I.

6.4 Treatment of u and v.

As with i and j, these are merely alternative forms of what, in mediaeval tradition, was the same letter. In the LPs, however, u and v are distinguished throughout.

6.5 Treatment of þ and y.

For reasons connected with the development of handwriting in the late 12th and 13th centuries, the letters ‘þ’ and ‘y’ came to be written identically in some modes of script. By the later Middle Ages, insular practice was regionally coherent: south of a line running roughly from the Mersey to the Wash, but excluding much of East Anglia, the distinction was regularly maintained; north of this line, and also over much of East Anglia, ‘þ’ and ‘y’ were represented by the same (usually y-like) symbol. (See further Benskin 1982a). In the LPs, the use of þ implies a systematic distinction between the two letters in the manuscript at issue, regardless of the letter-shapes used to effect it. If the letters are confused, then y is used throughout, regardless of whether the mediaeval symbol is þ-like or y-like. Renderings like mþkþll, corresponding to familiar mykyll, are hence not to be found, but appear with y; and in a manuscript where þ is so used, other þ- spellings are likewise reported as y (so þe ‘the’ appears as ye). The system of transcription, which attends to functional distinction rather than to form, is not ideal; but it is a practical means of reporting, in outline, an important facet of the written language, and it cuts through the taxonomic problems that would otherwise be presented by the many scripts in which þ-like, y-like, and indeterminately þ ~ y-like symbols are used interchangeably (see Benskin 1982a, p. 23).

6.6 Treatment of z.

The letter ‘z’ is reported as z or as ȝ, according to manuscript usage. (Commonly, the ME letters ‘z’ and ‘ȝ’ are not distinguished, but both written ȝ.) When z is written for ‘ȝ’, it is so reported: for example, manuscript zet ‘yet’ is preserved, not altered to ȝet.

It should be noted that word-final z/ƶ/ȝ may have origins other than in the letters ‘z’ and ‘ȝ’: they may derive from the abbreviation for -et found in Latin and French usage. The sign z/ƶ/ȝ was here originally syllabic, but was reinterpreted as a simple consonant, equivalent to t, and written post-vocalically. (So habeȝ from earlier habȝ, for habet. English asset(s) from French assez ‘enough’, is a back-formation.) The usage was adopted in some ME writings where forms like habbeȝ ‘have’ may imply a suffix of the -eþ type (with t from þ), rather than -es inflexion.

6.7 Treatment of n and u.

In most cursive scripts save the formal varieties, the letters ‘n’ and ‘u’ are not distinguished in form. Normally this presents no difficulty, and n or u is printed according to lexical identity and etymology. In some cases, however, the sequence of four minims may be ambiguous: is nn or un intended? So, for example, -aund or -annd in ‘land’ and the suffix of the present participle; -oun- or -onn- in ‘hundred’ and ‘young’. Here, typographical representations are almost bound to be arbitrary, and should be regarded as such in the LPs. In cursive scripts, whether formal or informal, final ‘n’ is commonly written with the second minim recurved upwards over the whole letter; the recurve may be reinforced by being drawn rightward again, into a tilde. Historically, this is a sign of abbreviation; the form may be identical with that form of ‘u’ in which the recurved stroke abbreviates a following m or n. In many, perhaps most late mediaeval scripts, however, the mark of abbreviation is a mere flourish, and modern editors usually ignore it. In general, we have followed suit, but in some scripts the flourish has seemed not to be otiose. Here, expansion to -ne has been preferred to expansion as -nn; and so also -me has been preferred to -mm. In some cases, it is unclear whether the two minims and tilde should be read as -un or -ne (or -nn): so, e.g., soun or sone (or sonn?). Again, representation is in some degree arbitrary; in spite of efforts to interpret these spellings in terms of the script and orthography of the texts in which they occur, it can hardly be claimed that the practice of representation is impeccable.

6.8 Letters superscript.

These are commonly abbreviations, as in þɩdde from þridde ‘third’, qan from quan ‘when’. For most items, such conventional abbreviations are expanded, and the letters implied by the abbreviation are italicised. So fam is represented as fram ‘from’, pei as prei ‘pray’, gow as grow ‘grow’. In some items, however, the superscript is always printed: whic and wch ‘which’, ic ‘I’, þu ‘thou’, wt ‘with’. In cases where the expansion is uncertain, the superscript is likewise preserved.

Superscripts that are not abbreviations, or only arguably so, are retained: ye ‘the’, þei ‘they’, yam ‘them’, boþe ‘both’, not ‘not’. In NOR, usually no attempt is made to distinguish between superscripts placed directly above an on-line letter, and those placed to the right. In SOU, the manuscript positioning is reflected by the typesetting. It should be noted, however, that the variation tends to be clinal, and that the binary classification is not always a sure guide.

6.9 Manuscript corrections.

Corrections entered by the writer of the mediaeval text are normally not distinguished in the LPs: insertions and corrected spellings are treated as running text. In the rare cases where a given correction may provide evidence for a copyist’s tolerance of the language of his exemplar, the correction is explicitly marked, either with an appended annotation (‘corrected form’), or (in the case of deleted letters) with the scribal sub punctum.

6.10 Manuscript errors.

In those cases where a manuscript form is clearly erroneous––that is, in cases where the scribe himself could be expected to have corrected the form, had it come to his notice––the fact is noted by appending ‘error’ to the form in question. It should be noted that such annotation is used only sparingly: various forms which appeared on first acquaintance to be aberrant were later confirmed in the usage of other writings subsequently found to be from the same area. In the present volume these forms are not explicitly marked as such; the comment is treated like all others (see 6.17 Comments below).

6.11 Doubtful forms.

In the LPs in volume III in cases where interpretation of a manuscript form is doubtful, readings are prefixed by a question mark ‘?’. In the County Dictionary, ‘?’ follows the key-number of the LP containing such a form. It may be assumed that all such instances are nonce-occurrences in the writings from which they are reported: a second occurrence normally resolves any doubt.

6.12 Signs of abbreviation.

Abbreviations are conventionally expanded, and italicised. Expansions are conventional: except for the macron or tilde, and for ad hoc uses of the bar of contraction, a given sign of abbreviation is always expanded in the same way. Thus the abbreviation of the noun plural suffix appears always as italicised -es, never as -is or -ys. This involves departure from the traditional renderings of Scots texts, where the expansion is nearly always -is; but it would be wholly misleading to imply a difference between mediaeval English and Scots practice on this point, with -es giving way to -is north of the Border, when all that is at issue is the variant national practices of modern scholars.

The attempt to expand abbreviations to conform with the other spelling practice of the scribe in question we believe to be mistaken. Consider, for example, the writer who employs both þar and þ+abbreviation for ‘there’. It could be held that since the fully written form always has a, then the abbreviated form must be expanded þar: the writer ‘really meant’ þar. But equally it could be held that the writer ‘really meant’ þer and þar by turns; for since there is a historically regular abbreviation for -er, he could always save a little effort by using the abbreviation when he intended þer; whereas there is no distinctive abbreviation for ar, so that when he intended þar he had to write the word fully. The problem can be avoided altogether, however, by representing the form of the abbreviation rather than its supposed significance; and although letter sequences italicised have been used here, a case could be made for a strictly formal representation (e.g. by figures, in the absence of record type).

The bar through h and ll is disregarded, unless, as in some formal scripts, it is clearly an abbreviation and not a mere flourish. Similarly treated is the return-stroke from the ascender of final d.

Recurved final -r is printed ‘-re’; the flourish is generally otiose, but is of some taxonomic relevance in an inventory of ME scribes, and its expansion presents none of the problems that may arise with the other marks of (questionable) abbreviation. Note that its presence is in some degree determined by the mode of script: in textura it is rarely used as a mere flourish, whereas in some varieties of anglicana and secretary it is habitual.

6.13 Word division.

Words containing an unstressed prefix commonly appear as two words in the manuscripts. So bi for ‘before’, a geyn ‘again’, wt out ‘without’. In all such cases, the space between the words is represented by a hyphen (LP to-gader for MS to gader, etc.) In manuscripts the hyphen is almost never so used, save at line-ends; in the LPs, all hyphens are editorial. It should be noted that spacing between words in mediaeval writing is usually clinal, and that the insertion of hyphens may therefore be a matter of judgement. Hyphens are also used to represent the letter-spaces between the separate elements of periphrastic constructions, answering to a single test-word on the survey questionnaire. So manuscript vn to the tyme is reported as vn-to-the-tyme (243 UNTIL), manuscript þeiȝ al as þeiȝ-al (32 THOUGH), and so on. Such renderings are merely editorial convention, designed chiefly to aid in machine-processing; that they are unfailingly explicit has seemed good reason to keep them in the final copy.

6.14 Nouns and verbs: treatment of inflexions.

For most such items, the form of the stem only is the object of present inquiry; in so far as the inflexions are considered, they are treated as separate items, and without regard to their lexical adhesion. (So items 56 Sb pl, the noun plural suffix, to 64 Str ppl, the strong past participle suffix.) In general, therefore, inflexions have been suppressed in the lexical items, and replaced by trailing hyphens. Hence MS þenking ‘thinking’ is represented as þenk-, MS fryndis ‘friends’ as frynd-. (Such stems are accordingly not normally distinguishable in the LPs from similar stems abstracted from compounds: MS fryndschip would likewise yield frynd-). Relative frequencies are expressed in terms of the whole (undifferentiated) sg. and pl. entry.

Words ending in ‘-er’. When an inflexion of the ‘-es’ type is added, ‘e’ of ‘-er’ may either be retained in an ending of the full ‘-eres’ type, or syncopated so that the ending is ‘-res’. So, e.g., fader ~ faderes or fader ~ fadres, oþir ~ oþiris or oþir ~ oþris. Representations of the type fadr- and oþr- should therefore not be taken to imply fadre and oþre in the uninflected stem: they may well answer to stems like fadir and oþur instead.

In some of the most recently compiled LPs, the pl. and gen. sg. forms are assigned to the sub-category ‘pl’, regardless of their form, and the inflexions are preserved. Otherwise, the only regular use of the sub-category is occasioned by such inflected forms of 87 BROTHER and of 100 DAUGHTER as display a distinctively pl. stem vowel: plurals like breþer (sg. broþer) and deghter (sg. doghter) are always so treated.

6.15 Verse texts: forms in rhyme and alliteration.

In general, rhyming and alliterative usages are not reported in the LPs. Scribes who, in course of copying, regularly translate the language of an exemplar into (presumably) their own familiar form of ME, commonly transmit rhyming and alliterative forms unaltered: were these forms likewise translated, then the organising principles of the verse would be variously disrupted. (See further sections 3.3.5–7 of the General Introduction in volume I.) However, there may be reason to suppose that a copyist’s usage differed little from that of the authorial version of his text; or, a copyist’s usage may be in flagrant breach of the verse requirements, implying a degree of carelessness (and hence, perhaps, spontaneity), or plain intolerance. Such forms are obviously to be treated with caution: see General Introduction, 3.3.6. In the LPs, all such instances of rhyme are marked ‘rh’; forms occurring in alliteration have been excluded.

6.16 Punctuation.

No attempt has been made to record manuscript punctuation, except in the case of 158 I (personal pronoun) where a number of instances of the forms I, i, y highlighted by points have been noted; so, e.g. .I, i., .y.


In the LPs in volume III forms are occasionally commented with an italicised grammatical label, definition or remark following the form. In the County Dictionary only the fact that a form is commented in a LP is indicated. In such cases an asterisk is printed following the key-number of the LP. To determine what the comment is, reference must be made to the LPs themselves in volume III.

7. Order of citation

7.1 The items are printed in the same order as they appear on the LPs. A synopsis, with alphabetical index to the items treated, appears on pp. xv–xxii of this volume. The forms for each item are listed in alphabetical order, with the following provisos.

(1) The mediaeval letters ‘ð’, ‘þ’ and ‘ȝ’ are placed at the end of the modern roman alphabet, and in that order. Thus ‘þ’ follows ‘z’, not ‘t’ or ‘th’; ‘ȝ’ follows ‘þ’, not ‘g’ or ‘y’. Forms in which historical ‘þ’ is represented by y, are entered under ‘y’: that is, writers who use the same symbol for both original ‘y’ and for ‘þ’, are treated as having one less letter in their alphabets than have those writers who preserve the distinction. If information relating to spoken forms with [ð, θ] is sought, then entries under ‘y’, as well as under ‘þ’ and ‘ð’ (rare) must be consulted. (There are, of course, numerous other spellings, variously idiosyncratic, to be considered here.)

(2) Superscripts and italics. Within the entry for a given letter, ordering is sensitive to the mode of a letter’s occurrence. First entered are the normal, on-line occurrences; second, occurrences of the letter raised above the line; third, occurrences of the letter written directly above another letter; fourth, italicised occurrences in the editorially-expanded abbreviations. So, taking ‘e’ as an example: ‘þer’ precedes ‘þer’ precedes ‘þͤr’ precedes ‘þer’. In the third category, the on-line letter takes alphabetical precedence over its superscript: ‘þͤm’ is entered under ‘þe-’, not ‘eþ’. Note that the second and third categories are distinguished from each other only in the SOU corpus; in the NOR material, ‘þe’ and ‘þͤ’ of the manuscripts are recorded indifferently as ‘þe’.

(3) Capital letters. Capital I is regularly distinguished from minuscule i and from j, and immediately precedes i in the present ordering. In the SOU material, other capitals, e.g. H and h, Th and th are segregated for some texts. These and other capitals, likewise, immediately precede their minuscule equivalents.

(4) Letter spaces. As noted under ‘Editorial practice’, word division, above, manuscript forms which include letter-spaces between the separate elements of what may otherwise count as a single word; so a wai ‘away’, bi for ‘before’ are treated separately from the equivalent fused forms (awai, bifor). The letter-space is here represented by a hyphen. In the County Dictionary, fused and hyphenated forms are treated as two distinct classes: a- follows a, b- follows b, and so on. Forms with a detached prefix, like o-way, are hence found in a separate text block immediately after the block for the fused equivalent (here oway). Some capital letters are also affected (as in Imang ~ I-mang ‘among’); the ordering principle here is I ... I- ... i ... i-.

(5) Where a hyphen separates two distinct elements of a form, e.g. whil-yat ‘while’, the ordering is with respect to the entire string and not by grouping under the first element whil-; so, e.g., whilus, whil-yat, whilys, whilys-that, whil-þat. In the same way, forms containing ‘+’ (as in ‘neither+nor’) are treated as single continuous strings for ordering. So, e.g., neiþere+ne precedes neiþer+ne, neiþer+ne.