ANGLO-NORMAN DICTIONARY.

The Anglo-Norman Dictionary was announced in the late 1940s and began publishing in 1979, the last fascicle coming out in 1994; Glanville Price in his review for The Modern Language Review said it “is likely to have a major impact on our understanding of the lexical history both of French and of English.” Now the whole thing is online; like the OED, they’re updating letters as they go, starting with F. “In December 2006 and September 2007, these were joined by the entries for AND2 letters G and H respectively. AND2 letters I to M will follow during the period 2008-12. These AND2 entries from letter F onwards have not been published in print (nor are there at present any plans to do so) and can be consulted only on this site.” There’s a brief introduction to the language (“Anglo-Norman is the name conventionally given to the variety of French which arrived in England with the Norman conquest in 1066. Possibly it is something of a misnomer…”); the main Introduction has a long and detailed discussion of the history of the language and changing perceptions of it, and describes the impact the availability of the lexical material can have on English lexicography:

In the authoritative dictionaries of English, even in cases where the contribution of French to the lexis of modern English has been recognised, any mention of a French etymology for a word usually refers to the continental variety. The proportion of words said to derive from Anglo-French has up to the present been very small. Now that the new Anglo-Norman Dictionary is becoming not only available, but its contents electronically searchable on-line, many of the current etymologies given in the dictionaries of English will need to be altered to show a derivation from insular French. This is more than merely a change of label: it means that the Anglicist will be able to follow the history of many English words through the French used on both sides of the Channel and note any changes of meaning that came about in the process. It will be possible to show either a semantic continuity or a semantic divergence.

A necessary caveat reminds us of an important difference from the OED:

Readers are nevertheless reminded that AND is not a historical or etymological dictionary. No systematic attempt has been made to supply a chronological account of vocabulary or of semantic developments; an attestation which occupies first place in an entry may well not be the chronologically oldest attestation, which will not always be included at all; and words or meanings may in fact have survived in use later than the quotations in the Dictionary could suggest. The Dictionary’s entries are semantically, not historically structured, and whilst the one might in theory coincide with the other, this will not always be so. Moreover, the range of attestations available to the editors does not of course always allow a complete historical account even had it been our intention to supply it. Caveat lector: absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

I found this extremely useful resource via Wordorigins.org.

Comments

  1. What a fantastic resource! vostre mercy biaucop and subhaan allah that I am sufficiently unemployed at present to be able to lose myself in this treasure trove.

  2. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    Intereting that this is the fruit of a collaboration between two Welsh universities: Aberystwyth and Swansea. I don’t they speak much Welsh in Swansea, but they speak a lot in Aberystwyth, and the University has a home page in Welsh.

  3. They should have one in Norman Welsh.

  4. Lovely. I tried out one of my favorite folk etymologies, the source for crayfish:

    escreveice, escreviche; crevece, crevesce, creveis, crevez, crevis; creveche
    s. (ich.) crayfish, whelk: Se vos trovez (=on an engraved gem) une escreveice, ou une escorpion, ou dous poissons [...] Lapid 288; Oistre, creveis (M.E. welke) […] BIBB (O) 336ra; Et por ce oistres et creveches et cervelles et mouele de toutes bestes croissent et descroissent solonc la lune Secr WATERFORD1 75.43; les crevesces d’eiwe douce Secr WATERFORD1 89.595

  5. And while we’re at it, let’s do penthouse:

    apentiz, appentiz; appentice; apenteiz, apenteize (apenitiz)
    s. 1 penthouse: aprés chescun (=wall) devers le temple ert uns apentiz cume encloistres sur columpnes levez Liv Reis 125; La sale, qe od murs feytis Estoit assise, e apentis View TextFabliaux 17.130; qe les appentices soient si hautz qe home puisse […] chivalere southe ycelles View TextLib Alb 336; Dicas Apedno solaria dic et apendne apentiz (var. apenteiz) quod si lignum construxerit ipsum TLL i 249; apadno: apenteiz (vars. apentiz, apenteize) TLL i 242; 2 outbuilding: Si servi sun evesque a gré Ke del tut fist sa volenté Des iglises, des apentiz ADGAR3 168.45; 3 (law) dependency: Seisums Aedmund vostre fiz Del reaume e des apentiz D’Est-Angle […] S Edm (R) 4r → apendices, pentis

  6. OK, last one, I swear — charterhouse:

    Charterhous, Chartehous, Charthous, Charteuse, Chartuse; Cartuse; Chartreux
    s. 1 (eccl.) Carthusian order: del meson de Montegrace de l’ordre de Charteuse View TextLett & Pet 37.4; de Seint Anne de l’ordre de Chartuse joust Coventré Rot Parl1 iii 551; les chiefs measons des ditz ordres de Cisteux & Cartuse Rot Parl1 iv 312; 2 Carthusian monastery: as moignes del Charterhous de Loundres View TextTest Ebor i 114.

  7. A.J.P. Crown says:

    s. 1 penthouse: aprés chescun (=wall) …
    Is that supposed to be an acute accent, Ben, or is it a mistake?

  8. It will probably take the Welsh to do the same for the influnece of Cajun French in the US. I can see how ‘coonass’ might come from ‘connasse’ – what I want to know is if ‘-ass’ as a suffix -emphatic adjectival? – was re-analyzed off of ‘coonass’ to spread freely.

  9. marie-lucie says:

    s. 1 penthouse: aprés chescun (=wall) …
    Is that supposed to be an acute accent, Ben, or is it a mistake?
    It is not a mistake. At the time of the quotation, there was only one accent, not two (nor three). (This came up not too long ago on another thread).
    I can see how ‘coonass’ might come from ‘connasse’ – what I want to know is if ‘-ass’ as a suffix -emphatic adjectival? – was re-analyzed off of ‘coonass’ to spread freely.
    To spread freely in which language? It must be from French to English, not the other way. The French suffix -asse is derogatory rather than simply emphatic.

  10. Yes, Marie-Lucie, from French to English, and from that it has spread in some varieties and not others of American English. It does have a slightly derogatory sense in English still.
    “Yo’ fat-ass momma” can only be derogatory, so there’s no “That’s a fat-ass chicken” in any kind of complimentary sense.
    And it’s a nominal suffix in French, right? In English it forms adjectives.

  11. John Emerson says:

    So charterhouse is neither charter nor house, and etymologically identical to the liqueur and the color. Nice.
    “Compound” is from Malay kampung and has no relation to com-, -pound, or componer.

  12. John Emerson says:

    So charterhouse is neither charter nor house, and etymologically identical to the liqueur and the color. Nice.
    “Compound” is from Malay kampung and has no relation to com-, -pound, or componer.

  13. What about “compound” meaning compromise, or adding on? I don’t think the Inns of Court were in contact with Malaysia in the era of the Year Books.

  14. John Emerson says:

    What I said is true only of the usage of the word “compound” to mean a kind of defended community. I should have said that.

  15. John Emerson says:

    What I said is true only of the usage of the word “compound” to mean a kind of defended community. I should have said that.

  16. marie-lucie says:

    So charterhouse is neither charter nor house, and etymologically identical to the liqueur and the color.
    The liqueur was made by members of the Chartreux monastic order at their headquarters, the Grande-Chartreuse in the Alps. The peculiar colour of the liqueur is due to the mountain plants used for flavouring it and giving it medicinal properties.

  17. A.J.P. Crown says:

    “Yo’ fat-ass momma” can only be derogatory
    I’m not sure you’re right, actually.

  18. David Marjanović says:

    My favorite citation:
    Ceratosaurus dentisulcatus is one kickass big theropod.”

  19. David Marjanović says:

    Oops, that doesn’t even count.

  20. marie-lucie says:

    Jim, the French suffix -asse forms (feminine) nouns, as in une paillasse ‘straw-filled mattress’ , une tignasse ‘head of thick, unkempt hair’ and une pouffiasse ‘slovenly woman’ (VERY derogatory), and also adjectives which apparently started as nouns, such as hommasse ‘built and behaving like a man’ (said of a woman) and dégueulasse ‘disgusting, really gross’. The nouns, if applied to inanimate objects, are not all derogatory but the adjectives certainly are.
    “fat-ass”: is that really an adjective? I would have thought it was a compound noun.

  21. @ David: C. dentisulcatus is one big-ass theropod.
    MILC 2 includes an abstract on “Serious-ass morphology: The anal emphatic in English”, by Diana Elgersma.
    That’s the only linguistic research I know on the subject.
    Naturally, there is an XKCD comic which is appropriate.

  22. “Yo’ fat-ass momma” can only be derogatory
    I’m not sure you’re right, actually.

    I’d agree with Your Marsjesty – some might even say they make the rockin’ world go round.

  23. “fat-ass”: is that really an adjective? I would have thought it was a compound noun.
    Serious language question here: What’s the tipping point for popular usage being the determiner of status when it comes to parts of speech? I mean, when enough people start using “decimate” to mean “almost totally destroy”, then that’s its primary meaning. Is “X-ass” an adjective if enough people think it is? I have no tertiary education and I would have said that it is an adjectival construction. I also suspect that many people of my educational level would say likewise. So the question is, at what point does vox populi become vox dei in situations like this one?

  24. marie-lucie says:

    Just because a word modifies a noun does not make it an adjective: for instance, golden is an adjective, but gold is not, even though you can say both a golden ring and a gold ring (with a slight difference in meaning). Among the properties of adjectives is that they can be preceded by ‘more’ (and some of them end in -er instead) and ‘most’ (and similarly with -est). Also, adjectives can occur after the verb ‘to be’ without an intervening article. Can you say X’s momma is fat-ass or more fat-ass than Y? If so, the word is an adjective, if not, it is a noun.

  25. A.J.P. Crown says:

    So fat-assed would be the adjective, then. Is there a book for the general reader containing this sort of interesting and useful guideline? If not, you ought to write it, Marie-Lucie. I think many people read Strunk & White-type books looking for insights like this. Even though the distinction is lost on most of us, in this case it’s a black-or-white grammar question; it’s not about style.

  26. marie-lucie says:

    AJP, thanks for the compliment, but any book intended for first-year linguistics students (there are several on the market) should have this kind of information. “Parts of speech” are defined both by how they are formed (including the various changes they can undergo, eg adding plural suffixes, etc) and by the company they can keep when used in sentences (eg with articles, etc). Definitional meaning as found in a dictionary is often not the most reliable indicator of the category of a word (eg verb, noun, adjective), especially since English is particularly adept at category-jumping.

  27. AJP, thanks for the compliment, but any book intended for first-year linguistics students (there are several on the market) should have this kind of information.
    Yes, but unfortunately many textbooks (in all fields) have the right information but don’t explain it intelligibly. So the sort of comments you provide fulfil a valuable need. In any case, I suspect that AJP is, like me, an interested outsider rather than a first-year linguistics student and not very likely to see books aimed at the latter.
    On the web we can find incredibly knowledgeable and helpful people, but we can also find incredibly opinionated, loud-mouthed and ignorant people, and in some discussion groups the latter constitute the majority. One of the best things about LanguageHat is that we don’t seem to get any real junk postings (few enough that I can’t remember a single one), whereas we do get a lot of valuable ones, starting with Mr Hat, of course, but not limited to him, and your contributions, Marie-Lucie, are among those I most enjoy.
    There are other language blogs that don’t attract any junk, but they tend to be either very low-volume or severely moderated, whereas here we get a decent volume with only the most necessary moderation.

  28. marie-lucie says:

    Athel, thank you too, when it rains it pours! N’en jetez plus!
    I understand that most people here are not students, but it should be possible to find older textbooks in used bookstores once in a while. Such books will not give the latest theories but those have no bearing on basic definitions and are best ignored anyway (they keep getting more complex, which is not necessarily a sign of progress). I will try to look around for some titles that I can suggest. There should be some information on the internet too.

  29. “Also, adjectives can occur after the verb ‘to be’ without an intervening article. Can you say X’s momma is fat-ass or more fat-ass than Y? If so, the word is an adjective, if not, it is a noun.”
    Thank you for that concise and clear summary, marie-lucie.

  30. A.J.P. Crown says:

    Thanks for that Athel, I agree with everything you wrote.

  31. David Marjanović says:

    C. dentisulcatus is one big-ass theropod.

    That would count, yes. The example I cited had an adverb.

    “Serious-ass morphology: The anal emphatic in English”

    Wow. I have to read that. After all, it’s very weird for an emphatic affix in English (or Germanic in general) to be a suffix instead of a prefix; I have no idea how that could ever have developed.

  32. David Marjanović says:

    Should be nominated for an IgNobel Prize.

  33. John Emerson says:

    Maybe it’s a profanity exemption, David. You also have an infix: “in-f*cking-credible”, etc.

  34. John Emerson says:

    Maybe it’s a profanity exemption, David. You also have an infix: “in-f*cking-credible”, etc.

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