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Latin 560--Medieval Latin


Dictionaries for the Study of
Medieval Latin
The first criterion for determining the meaning of a medieval Latin word is the usage of the given writer, the usus scribendi. The question is not, "What does Lewis and Short say?" but rather, "How does Bernard use this word elsewhere in his work?" Authors may be influenced by the meanings of words as used by earlier authors, it is true. But the more time and distance between writers, the greater the possibility of lexical change. Dictionaries of historical languages give us examples of usage throughout the past, and this is a great service and a convenience. But such dictionaries should be used with caution. The student who has devoted years of study to the works of a given author or of a given school of thought will be in a far stronger position than the lexicographers to assess the meaning of that writer's vocabulary.

So why bother with the dictionaries? They bring together many instances of use conveniently, so that we can gain a sense of the range of meaning of words. We can see how other writers of a particular time and place used a certain word, and, perhaps, find senses helpful for understanding the author whose work we are reading. The following dictionaries have been produced by scholars of various nationalities over more than a century, and represent a good starting point for getting an idea of the range of meanings of medieval Latin words.

A word about nationality. It might occur to clever students that dictionaries prepared by Czech scholars will have less importance for grasping the meaning of a writer from twelfth-century Paris than ones prepared by French or English scholars. The still cleverer students will remember that Latin was an international medium, and that Latin correspondence and literature circulated throughout medieval Europe, subject to very different political, ecclesiastical, and other forces that hinder, permit, or promote communication among modern nations. So, Bartal's Glossarium may shed much light on Latin in use far beyond the borders of Hungary.

The dictionaries cited below are followed by call numbers in cases where the dictionary is available at WMU.



1. Arnaldi, Francesco. Latinitatis italicae medii aevi inde ab anno CDLXXVI usque ad anno MXXII lexicon imperfectum, Archivum Latinitatis Medii Aevi, X, 1936-1957.
PA2889 .A7 1970

2. Arnaldi, Francesco and Franz Blatt, eds. Novum Glossarium Mediae Latinitatis, Copenhagen 1957.
PA2893 .N6x

3. Bartal, Antal, ed. Glossarium mediae et infimae latinitatis regni Hungaricae, Leipzig 1901, Hildesheim 1970.

4. Bassols de Climent, Mariano, Juan Bastardas Parera, et al., eds. Glossarium mediae Latinitatis Cataloniae; voces latinas y romances documentadas en fuentes catalanas del ano 800 al 1100, Barcelona 1960-.
PA2893.S7 G55x

5. Battisti, Carlo and Giovanni Alessio, eds. Dizionario etimologico italiano, Florence 1950-57.
PC1580 .B37x 1975

6. Du Cange, Charles Du Fresne, ed. Glossarium mediae et infimae Latinitatis, Paris 1688; rev'd and enlarged by L. Favre, Graz 1954.
PA2889 .D8 1937

7. Fuchs, Johann Wilelmus and Olga Weijers, eds. Lexicon Latinitatis Nederlandicae Medii Aevi, Leiden 1977- .
PA2893.D9 F9 1977

8. Habel, Edwin, ed. Mittellateinisches Glossar, Paderborn 1959.
PA2893.G3 H3 1989

9. Hakamies, Reino, ed. Glossarium Latinitatis Medii Aevi Finlandicae, Helsinki 1958.

10. Harmatta, János, Iván Boronkai, and Ibolya Bellus, eds. Lexicon Latinitatis Medii Aevi Hungariae : A Magyarorszagi köšzepkori latinsag szotara, Budapest, 1987- .

11. Kostrencic, Marko, Veljko Gortan, and Zlatko Herkov, eds. Lexicon Latinitatis Medii Aevi Iugoslaviae, Zagreb 1969-79.

12. Latham, Ronald Edward, ed. Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources, London 1975-.
PA2891 .L28

13. -----, Revised Medieval Latin Word-list from British and Irish Sources, London 1965.
PA2891 .L3

14. Mittellateinisches Wörterbuch bis zum ausgehenden 13. Jahrhundert, Deutsche Akademie der Wissenschaften, Munich 1959-.
PA2893.G3 M48 1959

15. Niermeyer, Jan Frederik, ed. Mediae Latinitatis Lexicon Minus, Leiden 1954.
PA2364 .N5 1976

16. Plezia, Marian, ed. Lexicon mediae et infimae Latinitatis Polonorum, Warsaw 1950-.
PA2893.P6 P6

17. Westerbergh, Ulla and Eva Odelman, eds. Glossarium mediae Latinitatis Sueciae, Stockholm 1968-.
PA2893.S8 W4


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