One of the project’s major outputs will be an electronic catalogue of words derived from Old Norse in 9 major late Middle English poems (a corpus of over 30,000 lines of text), including the works of the ‘Gawain’-poet, the Alliterative Morte Arthure and The Wars of Alexander, whose vocabularies are famously rich and diverse. The catalogue will take the form of a freely accessible and fully searchable online database.
We expect to identify and make entries for up to 1600 different lexical items, in the process reviewing all previous scholarship in this area (in editions, historical dictionaries, and other studies). Through tagged and hyperlinked texts, database users will be able to approach the material starting from either the catalogue or the texts.
Each entry will be annotated with information about the form and meaning of the word (including, for example, spelling variants, morphology, present-day equivalents and senses), its regional and historical distribution, and its etymology (including where possible the Proto-Germanic ancestor, Old English cognate, possible Scandinavian source forms and modern reflexes, and any phonological or morphological markers of loan).
These fields will create a flexible mechanism for presenting and manipulating this large body of data, and thus more powerful ways of analysing, modelling and visualizing the material.
The database will also introduce a new field to facilitate the study of all words of a particular etymological type alongside one another. Each entry will be classified according to a system devised by Dr Richard Dance to indicate the nature and strength of the evidence for loan from Old Norse, allowing the user to compare it immediately with the same evidence for every other word.