Guide to the Index of Sources


Margaret Laing


This Index is for texts in the LAEME corpus of tagged texts (CTT) only. For these texts information has been updated and reordered from the entries in Laing (1993). For early Middle English texts not found in the CTT reference should be made to Laing (1993).


In this file, each entry has the following format:

1. Manuscript: repository reference for the manuscript. Where there is more than one separately tagged text in the same manuscript the tagged texts are given separate entries in the database. The entries are made in order of the texts’ appearance in the manuscript and are given the additional label in this field: ‘entry 1’, ‘entry 2’ etc.

2. Index number: Corpus of Tagged Texts index number in the format # n. Four figure numbers indicate that the tagged text is formed from a combination of originally separately tagged texts. If the separately tagged texts are in the same hand and language they are combined. In these cases, the index nos. of the originally separate tagged texts are given in brackets without the # prefix and in order of their appearance in the manuscript (and in the combined tagged text).

3. File name: Corpus of Tagged Texts filename in the form filenamet.tag. Note that the filename of the derived text dictionary is in the form filenamet.dic

4. Date: the approximate date of the relevant tagged text in the format C = century; number e.g. 13; a = first half, a1 = first quarter, a2 = second quarter, b = second half, b1 = third quarter, b2 = last quarter. A date preceded by * indicates that the relevant text in the manuscript goes back, at one or more removes, to an Old English (pre-Conquest) original. More precise datings may be given in brackets following, usually with the source also. We must remember, however, that the palaeographical dating is done by comparison with hands from manuscripts that are dated or datable. In the dated or datable manuscript, the age of the contributing scribe(s) is not usually known. A dated or datable hand may therefore represent a conservative or a progressive type of script as easily as one central to that particular time. The age of the scribe of the hand being palaeographically dated will also not normally be known. Moreover we have no knowledge of the extent to which any individual scribe might or might not keep ‘up to date’ in his use of scripts. So apparently narrow palaeographical datings can potentially be ‘out’ by as much as 30 or 40 years depending on the working life of a given scribe.

5. Text(s): the contents of the manuscript and the folio references and title or description of text(s) in the relevant hand and text language. For the most part this field is restricted to noting the relevant early Middle English text(s); other contents and cross-references are sometimes given for the sake of clarity. The addition (JJS) or (KAL) indicates that the original transcription was provided by Jeremy J. Smith or by Kathryn A. Lowe (for which thanks are here expressed) and subsequently checked against a microfilm of the manuscript by me. I am grateful to Michael Benskin for the transcription (from the original manuscript) of the Pater Noster in Salisbury Cathedral Library 82, fol. 271v. All other transcriptions and all flagging and tagging have been done by me, for the most part from reproductions rather than from original manuscripts. Where more than one early Middle English text is cited, the texts are numbered and each listed on a separate line. These item numbers can be matched with those in the Bibliography and Cross reference sections.

6. Grid Ref: localisation (if made), by 6-figure National Grid reference. Non-placement is given here as 000 000

7. Localisation: (if made) by place and/or by county. Default is ‘text language not placed’ with or without a reason given.

8. Evidence and comments: extra-linguistic evidence for support of localisation, if any. This section may also contain comments on features of interest in the text language. For early Middle English, there are very few documentary ‘anchor texts’ of the sort used to underpin the dialect continuum in LALME. This is unfortunate because extra-linguistic local associations in documentary texts are for the most part more likely to be reliable than those for literary manuscripts. Local records or legal instruments were mostly drawn up by local scribes, so can usually be trusted to attest forms of language of their stated place of origin or of somewhere nearby. The few exceptions are likely to be recognised because the body of local documents for any place would normally constitute a tradition of scribal practice against which non-local deviation is obvious. Literary texts may also be associated on non-linguistic grounds with particular places. There is however a hierarchy in such associative clues, for which see further Introduction Chapter 1 §1.5.3. It is clear that non-linguistic associations in literary manuscripts represent a much broader spectrum of localising evidence. This field will give information about such evidence as there is for the relevant text language and note whether a text is considered to be an ‘anchor text’. The default is ‘the text language has been fitted’ using the LAEME configuration where possible and the LALME configuration in support and where the LAEME configuration is absent. It must be understood that ‘fitting’ for LAEME is not anywhere near such a robust concept as it is for LALME. Not only is there is no proper matrix of documentary texts to serve as ‘anchors’ at the early Middle English period but there are also large parts of the country for which little or no written English survives at all (Laing 1991, 2000a). The LALME configuration has been used to help with some fittings, but in the sparsest areas any localisation is bound to be very approximate indeed and will always be subject to subsequent revision if more data or information becomes available. For much of LAEME, the display of linguistic data in map form at all is a convenient but highly generalised abstraction. The apparently exact placings attempted for LAEME are a function of perceived patterning in relation to other texts of similar language within a kind of abstract linguistic space that also takes into account the time axis. They are also driven by the necessity, for mapping purposes, of putting in some specific place text languages that appear to be homogeneous and local. Where text languages exist in larger numbers, and the configuration is denser (e.g. in the SW Midlands) the concept of linguistic space becomes even more important. In the early Middle English period, religious houses, cathedral schools and a number of early-established town schools (Orme 1973: 295–325) would have provided opportunities for learning the art of writing and copying. For the SW Midlands, surviving early Middle English texts in somewhat differing forms of language outnumber the most likely places of origin of written local dialect systems. The complex of texts that include those in London, Lambeth Palace Library 487, London, British Library, Cotton Nero A xiv, London, British Library, Cotton Caligula A ix, part I (Laȝamon A), and part II (Owl and the Nightingale) are all very similar to each other, and also to the language of the Worcester Tremulous Hand and other material with Worcester associations. It is possible that varying Worcester language is what this complex may represent. But it would be very difficult to display the material cartographically all on one spot; so for the purposes of mapping, texts have sometimes been spread out, according to the usual criteria for fitting, across areas in which there were few or no contemporary centres of teaching and learning.

9. Corpus sample: information about the sample tagged, with folio or page numbers where relevant.

10. Number of tagged words: (excludes place names and personal names) in the sample, followed in brackets by the number of tagged forms (i.e. words plus secondary elements that have received separate tags, such as second elements of compounds and derivational and morphological affixes).

11. Number of place names: in the sample

12. Number of personal names: in the sample

13. Total number of words: in the sample, including names, followed in brackets by the number of excluded elements, such as Roman numerals or partial words, that are preceded by ! in the tagged text and are ignored for the purposes of linguistic processing.

14. Script: description of and/or information about the script.

15. Other relevant information about the tagged text: any other relevant comments about the transcription and tagging of the individual sample e.g. about scribal orthography, punctuation, state of the manuscript etc. For detailed information about transcription policy see Introduction Chapter 3 and about tagging see Introduction Chapter 4.

16. Status: information about the status of the tagged text, e.g. whether any more work on it is still needed.

17. Bibliographical information: not cited elsewhere in the entry. This is mainly confined to notices in the major indexes of Middle English and to editions of the relevant early Middle English texts and/or their appearance in major anthologies. It does not attempt to be exhaustive and may not be up to date. Notice of publications relevant to the language of the tagged texts would be gratefully received.

18. Cross references: to other versions of the same text(s).

References