Tuesday, January 26, 2016

WoM: Anglo-Norman at the inn (Manières de Langage)

– Syre, ou pensez vous chivacher anoet?
– Sire, a la prochene ville, si Dieu plest.
– Sire, que l’apellez la prochyin ville?
– Sire, l’apellent Oxone, verement.
– Ore, sire, ou serromes loggez quaunt nous voignomes la?
– Syre, a le Molyn sur le hope en la rewe de Northyate est le meillour hostelle d’icelle ville come je suppose
(Man Lang ANTS 71.1-23)
(‘Sir, where do you intend to ride tonight?’ – ‘Sir, to the next town, God permitting’ – ‘Sir, what do you call it, the next town?’ – ‘Sir, they call it Oxford, to be sure’ [...] ‘Well, Sir, where will we stay when we get there?’ ‘Sir, at [the inn with] the sign of the Mill in Northgate Street – it is, in my view, the best hostel of this town’)

A genuine Anglo-Norman conversation between travellers sorting out their accommodation for the night? Or is this a polite exchange between two itinerant knights, excerpted from some epic romance? Perhaps, the setting of the scene for a fabliaux?  Then again, the somewhat contrived nature of this innocuous dialogue may have a different ring of familiarity, especially for those accustomed to the type of ‘could you tell me the way to the station’ scenarios featured in numerous language teaching courses. And this is precisely what this is: one of the many examples or model dialogues, excerpted from an Anglo-Norman phrase-book – or manière de langage – that was compiled around 1415 by the Oxford scholar William of Kingsmill, with the specific purpose of teaching French in England.

– Syr, moun maystre m’ad enseigné pur escrire, enditer, acompter et fraunceys parler.
– Et que savez vous en fraunceys dire?
– Sir, je say moun noun et moun corps bien descrire.
– Ditez moy, qu’avez a noun?
– J’ay a noun Johan, boun enfant,
Beal et sage et bien parlant
Engleys, fraunceys et boun normand
(76.32-34 and 77.1-5)
(‘Sir, my teacher has taught me writing, composition, counting and speaking French’ – ‘And what can you say in French?’ – ‘Sir, I can say my name and describe the parts of my body’ – ‘Tell me, what is your name?’ – ‘My name is John, good child / Sweet and wise and talking well / In English, French and correct Norman’)

 (Queen Mary Psalter, Royal MS 2 B VII, f. 223v)

To briefly put this phrase book into context, the turn of the fifteenth century in England saw a growing effort in producing didactic manuals on how to learn French correctly. The precise nature and development of four centuries of Anglo-Norman language acquisition in England remains a subject that needs further investigation,[1] but we do get some insights from the great number and variety of instruction materials that have survived, especially from the later period. Walter of Bibbesworth’s Tretiz de language,[2] although by the 15th century more than 150 years old, continued to circulate, and became incorporated into Femina[3] in the first quarter of the fifteenth century. This influential treatise in verse discusses correct (and often complex) Anglo-Norman vocabulary, with special attention to homonyms, and provides Middle English translations for certain words:

Ouwe jaungle, jars (gandre) agroile
Ane (enede) en mareis jaroile (quekez).
Mes il i ad jaroil (quekine) e garoile (trappe),
La difference dire vous voile:
Li ane jaroile en rivere
Si hom de falcoun la quere,
Mes devant un vile en guere,
Afichom le garoil en tere
(bibb roth (G) 261-68)
(A goose gaggles, a gander gabbles / A duck quacks in a marsh. / But there is ‘quacking’ and there is ‘palisade’, / And I want to tell you the difference: / The duck quacks in a river / When someone hunts it with a falcon / But in front of a city at war / We plant a palisade in the ground)

(Bibbesworth's TretizBL Addit. 46919, 2r (1325))

From the same period we get numerous Nominalia or thematic glossaries which place Anglo-Norman words alongside their translations in Middle English, Latin or even both:[4]

L’apparayle pur charue:
Chief et penoun / Heuede and fot
Manuel et tenoun / Handle and stile
Hay et oysiloun / Bem and reste
(Nom 25.853-55)
(The parts of a plough: plough-head and foot [...], handle and cross bar [...], beam and ear [...])

Just as popular were different versions of the Ars Dictaminis, ascribed to Thomas Sampson,[5] which provided models for various types of letter writing – including many instances of university students writing to their parents they have run out of finances:

[...] mez veraiment, pur mez despensez money defaile, pur quel enchesone vous en pry de entieriez de moun coer que pur solas de ma exhibicion queconque quantité de money pur cest present terme a suffire, come y pleist a vostre volunté, vous me vuillez envoier [...]
(samps1 422)
([...] but truly, because of my expenses I’m short of money, for which reason I beg you, with all my heart, to please send me, for the relief of my allowance, any quantity of money that would be agreeable to you to suffice me for the present term [...])

We see orthographical manuals[6] appearing and, in the first quarter of the fifteenth century, Anglo-Norman grammars (or Libri Donati, named after the Roman grammarian Aelius Donatus):[7]

Amo, -as:
En l’endicative moed et en le tens present: j’ayme, tu aymez, il ayme; pluraliter: nous aymons, vous aymez, ils ayment.
En le pretert nient parfit: J’amoy ou amay, tu amoiez [...]
(Liber Donati 10.85-89)

Finally, we have the aforementioned model dialogues in Anglo-Norman, grouped together by Andres Kristol under the term manières de langage in his edition of the three main such texts.[8] 

Written between 1396 and 1415, these compilations teach Anglo-Norman through phrases (e.g. ‘Sire, voulez vous manger ové nous?’ (‘Sir, do you want to dine with us?’) (69.21), ‘Sire, bone noet vous doyne Dieu et boun repos’ (Sir, may God give you a good night and much rest’) (69.29), or ‘Sire, quelez novelx de par dela?’ (‘Sir, any news from over there?’) (70.5)) and by practical examples from real-life situations (hiring a clerk, comforting a child, visiting a sick friend, asking for the time, etc.). Their purpose, as stated in the introduction of the earliest Manière, is

d’apprendre a parlere, bien sonere et parfitement escriere douce francés, q’est la plus beale et la plus gracious langage [...]. Quare Dieux le fist si douce et amyable princypalment au l’onore et louange de lui mesmes (3.8-13)
(to learn how to speak, pronounce well and correctly write sweet French, which is the most beautiful and graceful language [...] Because God made it so sweet and friendly, primarily to His own honour and praise)

This richness of didactic materials gives us some interesting indications of the state of Anglo-Norman around 1400. Firstly, it confirms that Anglo-Norman is by now seen not so much as a native tongue, but more as a language needing instruction and schooling: children learn it from their teacher, travellers consult their phrase-book, and Middle English glosses or translations explain senses. It seems that any association of the language with Continental French is seen as preferable, with the English ecclesiastical author of the earliest Manière proud to point out that his French is ‘sicomme j’ai entendu et appris es parties dela le mer’ (‘as I have heard it and learned it across the water’) (45.17). The reader is perhaps reminded of Chaucer’s Prioress, whose French, a century earlier, is described, perhaps with a hint of disapproval, in the Prologue of the Canterbury Tales as ‘After the scole of Stratford atte Bower’ (l.125) rather than learned at Paris.[9]

(Grandes chroniques de France, Castres, bibliothèque municipale)

At the same time, however, the awareness of the insular identity of the language remains strong: the 1415 Manière often preserves a ‘typical’ Anglo-Norman spelling (for example, the use of the -aun- graphy in avaunce or plaunte) to the extent that Kristol believes that the language is deliberately conservative (p. xlv), and uses a French that is marked by English vocabulary, phrases and semantics (for example, the verb travailler in the sense of ‘to travel’ instead of ‘to work’ (733.9) or the use of laisser instead of faire in an expression like ‘lessez vostre garçoun venir’ (74.18)).

Secondly, and almost contradictory, these texts demonstrate the continuing strength of Anglo-Norman in early fifteenth-century England: they confirm the need to speak French in society, and describe a whole range of social circumstances in which this language seems to be presented as the norm – not just as the language of high society, law or international trade, but also as the commune parlance of the English market place, at inns, or even between a baker and his apprentice or labourers on the field. However fanciful some of these different scenes may be, they employ a type of Anglo-Norman that is often vibrant and that, we may assume, attempts to be a representation of what must have been everyday usage. Reading through Kristol’s edition, we inevitably get a feeling that this is a tranche de vie of Anglo-Norman as an animated, down to earth and colourful language – very different from the register of romances or religious edification. Among other things, these Manières provide ample examples of how to curse or insult someone, sounding, at times, surprisingly modern: ‘Alez decy, senglent fiz de putaigne’ (54.29), or ‘Ribaud, vous baserez mon cuel’ (54.32). So much for French as ‘la plus beale et la plus gracious langage’ (3.9-10).

(BL, Royal 6 E VII   f. 514)

            The three Manières are similar in contents, and one of the recurring scenarios is how to use Anglo-Norman in the medieval inn: from how to order food and drink, to how to ask for a room for the night, how to ask for the bill, and how to chit-chat with the wife of the landlord. To return to our two aforementioned travellers, who were arriving in Oxford:

[...] puis il vient a un hostel et dist ainsi:
– Hostiler, hostiler!
Et l’autre lui respount a darrains tout dedeignousement ainsi:
– Qu’est la?
– Amys!
Donques vient l’ostiler et overt la port et dist:
– Hé, Janyn, estez vous la?
– Oil dea, ne me poes tu veier? Quoi ne m’as tu, paillart, respondu a la primer parole que je t’appelloi?
– Hé, beau sir, ne vous coruscé point, quar vraiment se j’eusse scieu que vous eussez esté ci, je vous eusse venu a primer foiz que vous hurtastez a port
(9.27-32 and 10.1-13)
([...] then he arrives at an inn and says thus: ‘Landlord, landlord’. And the other eventually answers him in an arrogant manner, like this: ‘Who’s there?’ – ‘A friend!’ Then the landlord comes, and opens the door and says ‘Hey Mister, are you there?’ – ‘Yes, of course. Can’t you see me? Why on earth, you villain, didn’t you answer me first time I called you?’ [...] – ‘Hey, dear Sir, don’t get upset; because, really, had I known that you were out here, I would have come to you from the first time you knocked on the door’)

– Hosteller, hosteller!
– Sire, sire, je su cy.
– Purromez nous bien estre loggez cyeyns?
– Certes, mes moistres, vous estez tresbien venuz tantostz.
(‘Landlord, Landlord!’ – ‘Sire, here I am’ – ‘Can we find good lodgings in here?’ – ‘Certainly, my lord, you are most welcome right now’)

– Dame, avez vous de bon vin?
– Voire, sire, belcoup.
– Quel vin?
– Et blanc vin et vermail.
– A combien?
– A sesze, a dousze, a dis, a uuyt, a six, a quatre, a deux.
– Et de foing et de avoine et des aultres choses que nous apartient?
–  Or, sire, vous averez assés
(57.30-36, 58.1)
(‘Madam, have you got any good wine?’ – ‘Sure, Sir, plenty!’ – ‘Which wines?’ – ‘Both white wine and red’ – ‘For how many?’ – ‘For 16, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4 and 2’ – ‘And how about hay and oats and the other things that we need?’ – ‘Well, Sir, you will have plenty’)

(Codex 4182, Biblioteca Casanatense, Rome, 14th century)

– Ore, beele dame, qu’avrens a souper?
– Sire, vous averez a soper viande assez; mez ditez a moy si vous vuillez avoir vostre viande apparaillé cyeins ou a le kewes?
– Nonil, dame, en vostre cusyne demesne.
(‘Well, lovely lady, what will we have for supper?’ – ‘Sir, you will have plenty of food for supper; but tell me whether you want to have your meal prepared here or at the cook’s place?’ – ‘No no, madam, in your own kitchen’)

– Hostiller!
– Syre?
– Baillez cea de jettours et lessoms compter combien nous avons a la chambre et combien a l’estable
(‘Landlord!’ – ‘Sir?’ – ‘Get out your counters, and let’s work out how much we owe for the room and how much for the stable’)

– Ore appellez la dame et emple le hanape et bayllez nous a boire. Faytez nous avoir lez poumes rostez et mettez de payn tosté a le feu que fra nostre beverache plus frek.
– Dame, bevez.
– Sir, commencez
– Dame, pernez vostre hanap, par Diee.
– Sire, non pas devant vous, si vous plaist
(‘Now call the lady and fill the cups and bring us something to drink. Let us have roasted apples and put toasted bread on the fire so that our drinking will be more refreshing’ – ‘Madam, have a drink’ – ‘Sir, you begin’ – ‘Madam, take your cup, for God’s sake’ – ‘Sir, not before you, if you please’)

(Taccuino Sanitatis 14th century)

All together, these Manières de Langage, a rich and at times amusing source of everyday Anglo-Norman conversation, constitute a crucial linguistic text base for the Anglo-Norman Dictionary, and it is no surprise that they are currently cited more than 800 times from A to Z.


[1]  See, for example, Richard Ingham, The Transmission of Anglo-Norman: Language History and Language Acquisition, LFAB 9, Amsterdam, 2012.
[2] AND sigla: bibb ants, bibb roth (G), and bibb roth (T).
[3]  AND siglum: Fem2.
[4]  AND sigla: for example, Fr Voc, Gloss Bod 730, Gloss Tree and Bird, Nom and several texts in TLL.
[5]  AND sigla: samps1 and samps2
[6]  AND sigla: for example, Anleitungsschriften, Orth Gall ants, and Tract
[7]  AND sigla: Barton, Barton2, Donatus and Liber Donati.
[8]  AND siglum: Man Lang ants.
[9]  See William Rothwell, ‘Stratford Atte Bowe and Paris’, Modern Language Review 80 (1985), 39-54.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Christmas 2015: Anglo-Norman words overview

2015 has been a turbulent year for the Anglo-Norman Dictionary, with the unfortunate illness and extremely sad passing away of our General Editor, Prof. David Trotter, last August.

Looking forward to a more positive 2016, the current AND team, Dr. Heather Pagan and Dr. Geert De Wilde, would like to wish our readers a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

(Ranworth Antiphoner, fol 22, fifteenth century)

We will be back in January with new Anglo-Norman words of the month, but in the meantime, here’s an overview of all the vocabulary we have discussed on this blog so far, in the past 2 or 3 years. There might be one or two you’d missed?

‘alphabet’/’abc’ - link

‘nick’, nock’ and ‘notch’ - link

The ‘Croes Naid’ - link

‘nuncheon’ - link

‘monoceros’ and ‘unicorn’ - link

‘havegooday’ - link

‘organe’ - link

‘noef’ and ‘novel’ - link

Anglo-Norman sweetmeats - link

‘lunage’, ‘lunetus’ and ‘lunatic’ - link

‘locust’ and ‘lobster’ - link

‘ongler’ - link

‘quyne’ the ‘evil monkey’ - link

‘herds’, ‘bevies’ and ‘sounders’ - link

‘ombre’ - link

‘outremer’ - link

‘nice’, an Anglo-Norman insult - link

Anglo-Norman chess terminology - link

‘gagging, ‘queasy’ and ‘squeamish’ - link

‘fitonesse’ -link

‘pedigree’, ‘pé de colum’ and ‘péage’ - link

‘fitchews’ and ‘mitching’ - link

‘pie’ and ‘pastry’ - link

‘penthouse’ - link

‘giggling’, ‘jigg(l)ing’ ‘gigolo’ - link

‘parker’, ‘paliser’ and ‘parchementer’, Anglo-Norman surnames - link

The Anglo-Norman horse (part 1) - link

‘predire’ and ‘prediction’ - link

The Anglo-Norman horse (part 2): horsemanship - link

‘lit’ and the Anglo-Norman bed - link

After the festive break, work will continue on the revision of P-, which we hope to publish online by the end of 2016.


Monday, November 30, 2015

Word of the Month: Lit

The recent windy Welsh weather has certainly made staying in bed an attractive proposition this week! That got us wondering about what the Anglo-Norman Dictionary could tell us about where people slept in the Middle Ages. Beds and bedding aren’t normally things that are described in the types of sources the AND used – there's never much discussion of home furnishings in literary texts or in administrative documents. Two other types of texts do provide some clues about medieval beds: inventories and wills. These tend to be related to wealthy individuals, so the goods described certainly wouldn’t be typical for the average medieval person. They do provide an interesting glimpse at how the 1% of the population furnished their bedrooms during this period!

Talbot Shrewsbury Book

The bedroom was known as the chambre, from whence we get the Modern English chamber, though you can occasionally find the word closet used in Anglo-Norman (and in Middle English) to refer to a private room:

tapitz pour la chambre, cuissiens, closet, oreillers Test Ebor i 229[1]
[carpets for the bedchamber, cushions, closet, pillows]

This room seems quite luxurious, with cuissiens, a variant spelling of cussin. As we have noted in that entry, this word derives from the Latin word coxa, which meant ‘hip’, suggesting that these cushions were originally meant to support the hips or upper thighs.  By the medieval period, cussin was used to refer to any type of bed-pillow or bolster. This word was then borrowed into Middle English by 1361 where it would take the form cushion.

If you wanted to rest your head rather than your hips, you’d be looking for an oreillier, which is literally a place for your ears (oreille). This term would become synonymous with cussin, referring to any sort of cushion or bolster. It would also develop a heraldic sense, which would be borrowed into English as oreille meaning ‘a representaiton of a pillow or cushion used as a heraldic charge’. Pillow, the most commonly used term in English for a place to lay your head, derives from Old English. We were apparently very attached to our traditional sleeping patterns!

On top of our mattress, a term derived from the Anglo-Norman materas, which was likely filled with litere‘straw for bedding’, we would find our bed linen, which was normally referred to as draps, a generic term for fabric which, in the plural, often referred to sheets on a bed. These were clearly valuable items as one poor student, writing home to his parents, confessed that:

j’ay mys en gage lez draps de mon lyt  SAMPS1 402
(I put in pledge (gave as security) the sheets from my bed.)

I’m not sure you could get a payday loan with your bedsheets nowadays.

BL MS Royal 20.C.III

The assortment of sheets and cushions for a bed were referred to as apparail from which we have the modern equivalent of apparel. One can also find it referred to as aurnement which might be more familiar to English speakers as adornament:

.i. tent bede de drap de baudekyn d’or, fait pour le gesyne de la royne, ovec .ij. panes d’escharlet, furrez dez ermyns, ovec tout l’aparaille Rot Parl  iv 229
[1 ‘tentbed’[2] of baudequin of cloth of gold, made for the queen’s lying-in with two covers of scarlet furred with ermine, with all of the fittings]

Essential on these windy days, the bedframe could be surrounded by cortines, known in English as curtains. On top of the bed would be a canopy (celure or canopé).

un grant lit […] avec le celure entiere, curtyns, quissyns, traversin, tapitz, de tapiterie (l. tapicerie) , et tout entierment l’autre apparaille Black Prince 230
[a great bed, with the entire canopy, curtains, cushions, traversin (??), carpets tapestries and the entirety of the other fittings]

les curtins del taffata blank Test Ebor i 231
[the white taffeta curtains]

BL MS Harley 4431

The fabric of the bedcovers and curtains could be quite luxurious and striking:

mon graunt lit de camaca escheicé blank et rouge Test Ebor i 230
[my large bed of camaca (a silk fabric) chequered white and red]

mon grant lit de noir velvet embroudé d’un compasse de ferrures et gratiers Test Ebor i 229
[my large bed of black velvet embroidered with a circular image of fetterlock and gratings]

un coverture d’ermyn  […] ovecque la coverchief de la suyte ensemble Test Ebor i 230
[a bedcover of ermine [...] with the coverlet of the suite included]

mon grant lit de drap d'or, de champ piers poudrés des roses d'or mises sur pipes d'or Test Ebor i 227
[my large bed of cloth of gold, with a blue background powdered with gold roses place on gold piping]

Pour une chambre de drap d’or lozengee des armes de France, d’Angleterre et de Brebant, c’est assavoir coute pointe, chevetier, ciel, 8 quarreaux et 8 pecis(l. petis) tappis Isabella Inventory 520
[For a bedchamber of cloth of gold with lozenges containing the arms of France, England and Brabant, that is counterpane, trappings for the bed-head, 8 square cushions and 8 small carpets]

The most essential of all furnishings, especially with winter on the way, must be the chaufelit or bedwarmer! Keep warm!

[1] This citation is taken from the collection of wills from Yorkshire published in three volumes by the Surtees Society, known as Testamenta Eboracensia. The first of these volumes can be consulted on the AND website at http://www.anglo-norman.net/sources/ .
[2] Likely refers to the canopy of the bed having a pitched rather than a flat roof.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Word of the Month: Horsemanship - The Anglo-Norman Horse (part 2)

(Tristan and Yseult in Roman du Chevalier by Gassien de Poitiers, 15th Century) 

Tristran i fet Ysod mener <1140>
E par la raigne la senestre.
Caerdins li chevauche a destre
E vount d’envoisures plaidant;
As paroles entendent tant
Qu’il laissent lor chevaus turner <1145>
Cele part qu’il volent aler.
Cel a Caerdin se desraie
E l’Ysodt contre lui s’arbroie.
Ele le fiert des esperons
Li palefrois avant s’enpaint <1155>
E il escrille a l’abaiser
En un petit croser evier - Trist 1140-56

(Tristran took Yseut along with him, Holding her rein as he rode on her left. Katherdin rode on her right, And they told amusing tales as they went along. Such was their conversation That they let their horses roam where they would. Katherdin’s mount wandered across And Yseut’s reared up against it. She pricked it with her spurs [...] Her palfrey plunged forward, And, as it touched the ground, it slid into a water-hole - translation by S. Gregory)

This instance of blundering horse-riding in the twelfth-century Anglo-Norman romance of Tristan and Yseut causes an uncontrollable fit of laughter in Yseut, who, to the horror of her brother Katherdin, jokes about the splashing water touching her in places that Tristran hadn’t tried to reach yet ‘Ceste aigue, que ci esclata, Sor mes cuisses main d’ome ne fist, Ne que Tristran onques me quist’ (ll. 1193-96). The fragment of text breaks off here, and any possible riposte by Tristran, a paragon of chivalry and fin amour, remains unrecorded.

For last July’s word of the month I started to look into the Anglo-Norman terminology of horses and horse-riding. The subject matter turned out to be such a prolific one that I had to restrict my overview to only the very general vocabulary for 'horse' (cheval, horse, estalon, stot, ive, jument, poutrel, pulain, hakeney, palefrei, sambuer etc.) and 'horse-riding (chevalcher); see here.  

(The Luttrell Psalter, BL Add. 42130, f.41r, 1325-40)

For this month’s blog, I’d like to return to the equine world, and have a look at some of the Anglo-Norman terminology on the subject of horse-riding. And the rather amusing passage cited above brings together a fine group of words relevant for the purpose.

Firstly, there's the verb chevaucher/chevalcher (line 1142): 'to ride a horse'. As discussed in the previous blogpost, this is a verbal derivation of the noun cheval, with the -auch/-alch part a reflex of the Latin etymon caballicare (FEW 2,6a). The term (literally 'to horse') is omnipresent in Anglo-Norman, as it is in Continental French, but, consistent with the noun cheval, was never borrowed in English (except for some rare late-medieval derivatives chivauchier for 'horse-rider', and chevachee for 'an expedition on horseback')[1]. The AND currently offers only two synonymous verbs, with chevaler2 (a rare and even more direct verbal derivation of the noun) and guier (a general term for 'to guide, steer, direct'[2]).

(Chroniques Jean Froissart Gallica, BN Français 2643 (detail), 15th century)

Yseut and her company ride in relaxed conversation, on horses that were probably amblant ('walking, ambling' from Latin ambulare[3] - one of the few words discussed in this post that were also used with the same sense in English[4]). Another verb used for the same type of relaxed riding is hobeler2, from an intensive form the Germanic root hobben ('to bounce', FEW 16,215a). The word is also attested in Middle English as hobelen ('to rock') but, apparently, without the equine sense.

'[...] Li destrers[5] neir ke il sist desure [...]; Par la plaine vait hobelant Vers la cité'  ˗ Ipom BFR 9322
([...] The black charger on which he sits [...] He rides, ambling over the plain, towards the city)

For a trotting horse, moving slightly faster (although the verb covers a range of speeds), Anglo-Norman uses the verbs troter (from a Germanic etymon *trotton, 'to run'[6], appearing in English from the second half of the fourteenth century) and ungler (a word previously discussed on this blog here).

'Busuin fait vielle trother' - Prov Serl2 4.32.
(Necessity makes an old horse trot)

An even faster gait would have been galoper (also from a Germanic root: possibly the compound *wala hlaupan, 'to jump well'[7]), or coure1 ('to run', from Latin currere[8]) les galops. Anglo-Norman has a number of expressions (les grans galops, les menus galops, les petits galops), which must have indicated different types running (including a canter and a trot), but which did not persist in English (where the word gallop itself wasn't attested before the sixteenth century).

'Les galops vient avant sur son cheval flory' - Rom Chev ANTS 1961
(He advanced at a gallop on his glorious horse)

(BN, Français 343, Queste del Saint Graal, f. 49v, c.1385)

When Yseut loses control of her horse, she pricks it with her spurs, and the phrase used is ferir des esperons (l.1149): literally, 'to strike' (ferir1) with 'spurs' (esporon)[9]. Anglo-Norman has a generous number of cognate periphrastic expressions for this particular action, using a variety of verbs that must have expressed the different levels of force applied: hurter des esporons (with the verb hurter related to modern English to hurt, but only in its original sense of 'to strike');[10] somewhat more softly in tucher des esporons ('to touch'); but more vigorously again in brocher as esporons (brocher, 'to prick, prod'); more painfully perhaps with  ficher des esporons (ficher, 'to fix, fasten', but also 'to drive in, pierce'), and poindre des esporons (poindre, 'to prick, sting'); and almost viciously in arguer des esporons (arguer, 'to oppress, afflict' and related to Modern English to argue). Once more, almost none of these verbs, even though most of them moved into the English language ('to hurt', 'to touch', 'to fix', archaic 'to poin', 'to argue')[11], were ever used in the same equine context.[12]

The noun esporon, also produced a direct verbal form esporoner2: 'lur chevals espurunent', FANT OUP 316. And the aforementioned verbs poindre ('to prick, sting')[13] and brocher ('to prick, prod')[14] were also used non-periphrastically:

'Ipomedon venir le veit, Vers lui point le cheval tut dreit' ˗ Ipom BFR 6190
(Ipomedon saw him coming, and spurred his horse straight towards him)

'Abessent les espiés e brochent les brandis[15]' ˗ Rom Chev ANTS 7416
(They lower their swords and spur their spirited horses)

Furthermore, poindre's present participle form, poignant, used as an adjective acquired the specific sense of 'at a gallop' or 'hastily':

'Mes les Alemans venent donc poynant' ˗ Boeve 2337
(But the Germans then arrived at a gallop)

(BL, Stowe 17, detail of f. 153v, ‘The Maastricht Hours’, 1st quarter of the 14th century)

Not surprisingly, the adjective poignant also developed a range of figurative uses in Anglo-Norman (e.g. 'par dures et poignantes penancez' Sz Med 107.19)[16], and it is mainly as such that the word gets borrowed in Middle English (MED poinaunt, '(of a sauce) piquant' and 'of a state of feeling) distressing'; and OED poignant, 'arousing or expressing deep emotion', first attested at the end of the fourteenth century in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales). The horse-related sense is not attested in English.

Lastly, Anglo-Norman also uses the less common verb cuiter ('to urge, compel')[17] to refer to the spurring of a horse:

Sun chasceor[18] a tant cuté Que sanglant en sunt li costé ˗ Waldef BB 6655
(He has spurred his hunting horse until its sides were bloody)

together with the expression using the cognate noun, a cuite d'esporon ('with urging by the spurs, spurring hard', sub cuite):

'Le messager […] vint a Hamtone a coste de esperun' ˗ Boeve 109
(The messenger arrives at Hampton at a gallop)

In the case of Yseut, she spurs her palefrei (line 1154, cf. previous WoM) when it is rearing its legs (line 1148, s'arbrer - a verb derived from arbor, 'tree', drawing an effective analogy with the branch-like shapes of the horse's kicking legs).[19] The horse becomes entirely uncontrollable (line 1148, se desreier),[20] and the result is that the animal rushes forwards (line 1154, s'empeindre avant), slips and splashes into a ditch. Yseult takes the involuntary shower of water lightly, but the mareschal or garçun back at the estable may have been less impressed with the state of the horse, eschif and without deboneireté, having to torcher the wet skin with their strile, and taking off the mud-splattered huce, sele, lormerie and panelloun. But the discussion of these words will have to wait for another time.


[1]  Earliest attestations for these uncommon words are 1420 and c.1380 respectively.
[2]  Just like English guide v. from Germanic *witan (FEW 17,600b).
[3]  FEW 24,425a.
[4]  Cf. OED amble v.: 'Of a horse, mule, etc.: To move by lifting the two feet on one side together, alternately with the two feet on the other; hence, to move at a smooth or easy pace', first attested in Chaucer.
[5]  See AND destrer1.
[6]  FEW 17,371b.
[7]  FEW 17,484a.
[8]  FEW 2,1565b.
[9]  The noun esporon comes from the Germanic word for the same object: *sporo (FEW 17,185b).
[10] The etymology of Anglo-Norman hurter remains unclear, and the FEW's proposed Frankish origin (*hurt-, FEW 16,271b) was already questioned by the OED in 1899. The DEAF prefers the reconstruction of *urgitare, an intensive form of urgere ('to push') as an etymon, but is by no means convinced (hurter, H732).
[11]  The verb ferir1 (from Latin ferire, FEW 3,465b), though particularly common in Anglo-Norman, has no equivalent in English.
[12]  The only exception is brocher, with its Middle English counterpart brochen also used to refer to the action of spurring horses (as well as, among other things, putting meat on a skewer or tapping a barrel).
[13]  From Latin pungere (FEW 9,597a).
[14]  From Latin broccus (FEW 1,547b).
[15]  The word 'brandif' is considered a spelling variant of braidif, defined in the AND as 'spirited horse'.
[16]  The AND entry poindre is currently under revision, together with the rest of the P-entries. The second edition of this part of the AND is planned to be published online towards the end of 2016.
[17]  From the reconstructed Latin verb *coctare (FEW 2,830b).
[18]  A type of horse, cf. chaceur. The term for 'hunter' was used not only with reference to a 'hunting horse', but also as a gloss for the Latin word for 'ambler, trotter'.
[19] FEW 25,89b and DMF arbroyer ('to plant or decorate with trees'). Anglo-Norman also has the synonyms brandir ('to brandish') and once again ferir1 ('to kick') for a horse bucking or rearing.
[20]  FEW *arredare 1,144b.