Monday, April 18, 2016

Word of the Month: April showers

‘Sweete April showers, Doo spring Maie flowers’[1].

From the late 16th century, Brits appear to have hoped that poor weather in the month of April would give way to sunnier days come May, though it’s likely that the sentiment was first expressed much earlier than that.[2] So synonymous is the month of April with rainy weather that one Anglo-Norman author it turned it into a verb, avriller, with the express meaning of ‘to rain, be showery’!

Mon avril et ma violete, Moun pré de mai e ma florete [...] Et mes rosiers quant il avrille Ma flor qui pur giel ne s’esmaie Ross ANTS 1880
[My April and my violets, My May meadow and my flower [...] And my rosebushes when it rains, My flower which does not fear a frost]

Image of a man holding flowers in April calendar BL Add 21114 fol. 2v

There are no shortage of Anglo-Norman terms to talk about inclement weather, which is perhaps unsurprising in a language used in the British Isles!  The weather could be anuius (‘cloudy’), pluius (‘rainy’) or cuitus (‘stormy’; though normally an adjective meaning ‘hasty’). The Latin word for storm, tempestas [3], gave rise to a host of terms in Anglo-Norman to refer to bad weather. One could refer to inclemency as a destemprance (also used in English in the form distemprance) or as an entempauns or merely as a tempeste (which persists in English as tempest and in French as tempête).

les maisons [...] abatuz par tempest de vent   GAUNT1 ii 177
(the houses [...] knocked over by a wind storm)

So great was the rain that one could simply use the word for river, flueve, to refer to the weather! The most frequently used terms for rain though are those that continue to be found in Modern French: pluie and pleuvoir (pluvoir).

E l’eir par venz e par fluvies (var. par pluie) commovera Antecrist 113
(And the air will be shaken by wind and rain)

Along with the rain, comes the wind! Anglo-Norman had multiple terms for wind, beyond the general term vent. These terms refer to specific types of winds, generally in reference to the direction from whence they came and are frequently adapted from the names of the Latin gods of the wind. Thus the wind called affricum (i.e. from Africa) is one from the south-west, the wind called aquilon is from the north, after the god of the same name. An austre is from the south, derived from the Latin wind god Auster, while a favonyn is from the west. This last wind is derived from the Latin Favonius, which might be more familiar by its Greek name Zephyrus. This wind was believed to bring the spring. (Favonian is also used in English but was borrowed from Latin in the seventeenth century.)

Atant lur vynt de le occident un vent favonyn Fouke ANTS 43.9
(Then a Favonian/westerly wind came to them from the west)

Depiction of the winds BL Royal 20.D.1 f.281r

Another wind, which is the subject of a newly created entry in the AND, is called the plovel. Also known as the plougol, it derives from the Latin pluvialis, that is, relating to rain, thus is it the word given to a wind from the south(or west) believed to bring the aforementioned April showers.

The Latin term aura, meaning ‘favourable wind’ later developed the sense of ‘weather conditions’. This word is etymologically related to the Anglo-Norman terms of or meaning ‘a gentle breeze, soft wind’, oré meaning either a favourable or a violent wind, as well orage used as well to indicate a favourable wind or a violent wind storm.

After the wind and rain comes a rainbow, known as an arc de ciel or an arc en ciel (see arc 1) (literally a ‘bow of the sky’; Modern French uses arc-en-ciel). The phenomenon was also called iris, after the Latin goddess who personified the rainbow.

Yrim l’arc del cel apelom Que nus contre pluie veum; Pur ço ad num yris la pere Lapid 245.1281
(We call iris ‘rainbow’ which we see against the rain; this is why we call the stone iris (a variety of quartz which displays the colours of the rainbow))
Rainbow BL Add. 38842 f.1r

Hopefully as we get closer to May we will see the weather begin to enbelir, that is, to become more beautiful and give way to clerseie (‘clear weather’). Perhaps then we will see the ground asolailer (‘to dry in the sun’) and enflurir (‘to bring forth flowers’) and reflurir  (‘to flourish anew’). Hopefully this spring will also bring the editors, working on the revision of P, their first attestation of the word printemps, that is, ‘Spring’, as this form is currently absent from the dictionary![4]

[1] Thomass Tusser, Five hundred pointes of good husbandrie. Eds. S.J.H. Herrtage and W. Payne. London: English Dialect Society, 1878, p.103.
[2] Chaucer began The Canterbury Tales invoking the showery weather of April, ‘When that Aprill with his shoures soote...’.  The Riverside Chaucer traces the origins of this topos in Romance literature and parallels in other works (Third Edition (1988), p. 799).
[3] We will continue to give page reference for DMLBS headwords in the AND,  the dictionary is now available via where is is possible to search by headword.
[4]  Printens is attested from 1164 in Old French [DEAF prim (printens)] but no Anglo-Norman citation using the word has been found. However, as it is attested in Middle English, under the form prime-temps from 1425, it would suggest that the term was likely in use in England. There was another way to refer to Spring in Anglo-Norman using the term ver. This term will be familiar to speakers of Italian and Spanish, where primavera is used to denote the season.

Monday, March 21, 2016

WoM: 'Easter' or 'Pasche'

Before the AND starts its well-deserved Easter break, let’s have a look at the word - Easter - in its medieval context of multilingual England. While Middle English used the word ester(n for this Christian festival of the Resurrection, Anglo-Norman had the term pasche cognate with Medieval Latin's pascha (DMLBS 2133a). There are clearly two different etyma involved here.

The word Easter is remarkable in that is found only in English and German, which still uses Ostern to refer to the feast.[1] Other Germanic languages, and even most European languages, use some variant of pascha: e.g. Pâques (Modern French), pääsiäinen (Finnish), Pasua (Italian), Pasen (Dutch) and πάσχα (Greek). The etymology of that root is straightforward: the word derives from the Hebrew word pesah for ‘Passover’ (the Jewish commemoration of the Israelites' liberation from slavery and exodus from Egypt under Moses). There is evidence that already in the first century  Passover imagery and terminology became associated with Christ's resurrection.[2]

(Passover - London, British Library, MS Or. 2884, fol. 18r)

This original sense of pasche as a Jewish festival was often retained in medieval usage, as for example in this early fourteenth-century Anglo-Norman Bible paraphrase:

A la feste de paskes vyint Jhesus en Jerusalem (Bible1 33.9)
('On the feast of Easter, Jesus came to Jerusalem')

Unsurprisingly for such an important Christian feast, the term, with reference to the Resurrection, is well attested both in Anglo-Norman:

Un jur de Paske a la grant feste Au manger seit li rois (S Edw2 3278)
('One Easter day, on thos great festival, the king sat down to eat')

and in Medieval Latin:

reddendo [...] .j. denarium ad phasca pro omni servicio (Danelaw 385)
('by giving back [...] one penny at Easter for all service')

(Ressurection, Andrea di Bartolo (Italian, active 1389-1428))

It also acquires a place in Medieval English, and the MED lists two variants: pask(e and (with loss of the final velar stop)  pas(e 2):

Alle þe baronage at Pask afterward Com to Wynchester to coroune kyng Edward (Mannyng Chron.Pt.2 57)

In tyme of winter [...] Fro þe kalandes of November Unto þe pase, es risyng right At þe aght our of þe nyght (Ben.Rule(2) 1123)

Though largely falling out of usage in favour of Easter, these forms persist in English and are listed in the OED, pasch n. and pace n.2, as either archaic and historical or, in the case of pace regional (Northern and Scottish – though their most recent example is from 1955). However, English did preserve the etymon for adjectival usage in paschal, eg. paschal candle or paschal lamb. For some reason, the equivalent alternative, Easterly (‘of or relating to Easter’), fell out of usage by the end of the seventeenth century.[3]

Incidentally, pesah also produced the word phase in Anglo-Norman, cognate to phase n. in Middle English (see also OED phase n.1, considered historical) and Phase in Medieval Latin (DMLBS 2263c), solely in reference to Jewish Passover or, as is the case in the Anglo-Norman entry which is currently under revision, to the sacrificial lamb prepared for Passover:

il rosterent phase sur le feu (Bible2 300vb)
('they roasted the Pesah lamb on the fuire')

Returning to the term Easter, we can be less sure of its origin, although a number of theories have been brought forward. The word appears in Old English as easter or eastre in, for example, the writings of Aelfric and Bede. In his Latin De Temporum Ratione, written in 725, Bede explains the word as derived from Eostre/Eastre – the name, he claims, of an Anglo-Saxon goddess whose festival was celebrated around the vernal equinox (15.9). As no further reference to this goddess can be found anywhere else, most scholars believe that, while some pagan feast may have formed the basis of this word becoming associated with a Christian festival, Bede may have invented the goddess and her name (see OED etymology)[4].

(unidentified - Easter festive meal with a basket of decorated eggs?)

In the case of German, the only other language using a similar word, Duden’s etymological dictionary (Der grosse Duden, Vol. 7 Etymologie, Herkunftswörterbuch der deutschen Sprache, 1963, p. 485b) relates Ostern to Germanic ausro, cognate with Sanskrit uṣas, Avestan ušah- , ancient Greek ἠώς or ἕως, and classical Latin aurōra, the word for ‘dawn’. As the OED confirms, possibly a deification of dawn (cf. Eos, goddess of dawn in Greek mythology) may well have been associated with pagan celebrations of the beginning of spring. In times of Christianisation, the word, associated with rebirth, may have been transferred to the celebration of the Resurrection. Altogether an interpretation which is not all that different from Bede’s millennium old account.
Interestingly, such an interpretation indicates a common origin for Easter/Ostern (the festival) and east/Ost(en) (the point of the compass), both associated with dawn and the rising of the sun.

(The Resurrection of Christ by Dirk Bouts (1475))

In the context of intense lexical interchange between Anglo-Norman and English and of vernacular languages influencing Medieval Latin, it is perhaps remarkable that no trace of any form or derivative of the term Easter is currently listed by the AND or the DMLBS. This restricted circulation of the term, confined to English and German, is intriguing, and the reason why it did not cross over at all in other languages, particularly within medieval England, is one of those unpredictable characteristics of languages.

(For more information of the medieval tradition of decorating Easter eggs - for example, in 1290 Edward I's accounts include payment for 450 eggs decorated with gold leaf - and the history of Easter egg hunting, see this blog.)


[1] The additional nasal ending, sometimes found in Middle English (estern) but lexicalised in Modern German (Ostern) is probably derived from an original plural ending (Old English eastran).
[2]  'Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed' (1 Corinthians 5:7).
[3] Cf. MED esterlich.
[4] For further discussion and alternative derivations see D. H. Green Language and History in the Early Germanic World, Cambridge, 1998, pp. 351-53, and  J. Udolph and K. Schäferdieck in J. Hoops's Reallexikon der germanischen Altertumskunde, second edition, 2003, vol. 22, pp. 331-38.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Word of the Month: Purple

As the editors of the AND work their way towards the end of the revision of the letter ‘P’, one of the entries being rewritten is that of the colour purpre, that is, ‘purple’[1]. Defining what that means is trickier than it first appears, as is often the case with colour words. Is purple a colour in the pink/red family or is it a shade of blue? To further complicate matters, there are in fact numerous words used in Anglo-Norman to refer to different shades of purple, some of which we’ll look at here.

Purpre derives from the Latin purpura [DMLBS 2584c], and doesn’t refer always to the colour we now know as purple. Originally, the term referred to the shade of dye obtained from a sea snail, which was a variable crimson or reddish shade, which is also known as Tyrian purple. The blue-purple colour found in medieval manuscripts is often plant based, normally from the plant known as turnsole though this colour was also created using a variety of other plants and berries.[2]

The first edition of the AND only lists one citation using the word as a colour adjective, implying that its sense was evident. This will certainly be remedied by the current revision, and the new entry will give a better idea of the scope of the use of the adjective. As a substantive purpre is used in Anglo-Norman to refer to the colour as well as, specifically, to purple cloth, often in reference to imperial robes. Purple cloth and dye were particularly costly and became associated, from Roman times, with the emperor, the pope and royalty.

BL Add. 4255 f.17 Image of emperor Vespasian

Purpre was also used to designate the purple colour used in heraldry, a term that continues in use today in English in the form purpure. The colour was used, for example, by Henry de Lacy, 3rd Earl of Lincoln on his arms as described in the Falkirk Roll:

Henry de Lacy, counte de Nichole, chevetaigne de la premier bataille, porte d’or ou ung leoun rampaund de purpure Eight Rolls 86.1
(Henry de Lacy, count of Lincoln, knight of the first battle, carries or, a lion rampant purpure.)

These arms would be incorporated into those of Lincoln’s Inn, one of the four Inns of Court in London.

There are a number of derivations of the word purple in the AND. Purprin is used with the meaning ‘crimson, purple’ and as a noun refer to a type of cloth. We also find the related purprie, meaning ‘purple’ (which should perhaps be read as purpri[n]e?) and purprine, a type of cloth of that colour. We also have the related enpurpuré, meaning ‘made purple’. Purpurine was also borrowed into Middle English and was used to refer to things of a purple or scarlet colour, frequently in relation to cloth. Empurpled is equally used in English but is a post-medieval creation.

An unusual variant is the form furfuré, which is only attested once in an interesting Anglo-Norman glossary of Arabic words from the beginning of the fourteenth century:

Anagales, che est une herbe qui a .ij. flours, l'une a color rouge & l'autre furfuree Glossario arabo-francese 367.53
(Anagales [i.e. pimpernel, Anagallis], this is an herb which has two flowers, one red and one purple.)

We also have a single attestation for the word purpuresse, meaning a woman who sells purple cloth or dye. This word seems to have been created specifically in reference to St Lydia of Thyatira in medieval biblical translations of Acts 16:14-15, as we see it used below in the Anglo-Norman Bible, and in equivalent passages in English translations (see the OED purpuress).

une purpuresse de la citee des Thiathiriens Actes 369va
(A purple-dye seller of the city of the Thyatirans)

BL Add. 42160 f.152v showing a naked purple man

Purpre isn’t the only term you can use to refer to the colour in Anglo-Norman. We have the entry violet , which, however, currently doesn't list any attestations in reference to the colour rather than the plant from which the colour derives its name. This is surprising as the term violet is used in Middle English by the fourteenth century in reference to this colour. It is likely we will add this to the dictionary when we come to the revision of ‘V’! The colour is however attested in the entry for viole:

amatiste, ke est [...] de culur medlee [...] De viole e de rose Apoc 4238
(amethyst, which is of a mixed colour, of violet and pink)

The word garance referred to the shade obtained by madder dye, a deep reddish purple, though our citations show that this was considered closer to red than purple as it glossed the Latin rubea, and was synonymous with ruge (red) and vermeil (vermilion):

rubea: de varence, de vermayl, ruge TLL 136

The words inde and yndois refer to the colour obtained by the use of indigo, generally a purplish-blue colour. This appears to have been a colour distinct both from azur (‘blue, azure’) and from purpre.

et ad le col tout jaune de la colour d’un oriel bien luisant, et le dos de ynde, et les aeles de porpre colour Mandeville 151
(and it (the phoenix) had a completely yellow neck, the colour of a shining oriole and an indigo back and wings of a purple colour)

Jacintin is also used to refer to a purplish colour, in metonymy with the reddish blue, or purple colour of the hyacinth. English jacinth also referred to a blue-coloured stone, though in modern usage, it refers to an orange gemstone. The Anglo-Norman context does not solve the ambiguity as to which colour the term refers to:

Le prince de prestres bien aparaillez, En l'estole jacintine Rom Chev ANTS 3843
(The prince of priests, well dressed in a jacinth-coloured stole)

We also find several uses of terms derived from the Gaelic word for purple (corcur)  in the AND. Cork or corkir is the English term used for a lichen from which one can derive a reddish-purple dye, and appears as either cork or jarecork in Anglo-Norman. It appears side by side with another species of lichen used to dye fabric purple, orchil in English:

ascun tiel drap, le quel puis mesme le fest serra tinctez oveqz orchel ou cork appellez jarecork Stats ii 487
(any such  fabric, which once made will be dyed with orchil or cork called jarcork)

BL Royal 16 E.II f.24v showing a purple decoration

One final way to describe something purple in Anglo-Norman is with the adjective muré, referring to the reddish-purple colour of mulberries or mure. Once again this term can equally be found in English, as murrey, though it is used primarily to refer to the colour in heraldic descriptions.

Pour une robe de samit rouge, pour une autre robe d'or de Turquie en laquelle elle fu espousee, pour une autre robe de veluel gramsi, pour un corset de tartais moret et pour une autre robe de tartais Isabella Inventory 520
(For a dress of red samite, for another gold dress from Turkey in which she was married, for another dress of crimson velvet, for a corset of mulberry tartarin and for another tartarin robe)

'Colour' is one of the new semantic tags that has been added to AND definitions during the present revision and later this year users will be able to search by this tag to discover all the Anglo-Norman words for a variety of colours. There are currently 180 colour words in the AND just waiting to be discovered.


[1] While we now use the word purple to describe the colour, the term purpure is well attested in Middle English, as well as in Occitan, Catalan, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian. Similar terms exist in the Germanic languages as well, including Swedish, German and Dutch. See the etymological discussion in the OED for the entries purpure and purple for a more developed discussion of the dissimilation process which shifted the pronunciation of the word, in English, from purpure to purple.
[2] For a description of Anglo-Norman colour recipes, see T. Hunt, 'Early Anglo-Norman receipts for colours', Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes. 58 (1995), 203-209.

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.