Thursday, June 5, 2008

A glossary for the Abecedarium

At Isaac's encouragement, I wrote the text for my ABC poem (see Isaac's post above) in Chaucer's Middle English, more or less. Most of the text should be intelligible at a glance even to readers unfamiliar with Chaucer, but some of the words have fallen out of the active lexicon of modern English, and a few otherwise familiar words may be hard to recognize in their medieval spellings. So here's a glossary of the trickier terms for those who might want it:

alderbeste: best of all
beraft: bereft, deprived
caitiff: wretch
cracchen: scratch
eres: ears
faren: travel
fer: far
gete: acquire
haunteth: occupies, inhabits
ilk an: each
lesing: losing
list: wishes
mete: food
mot: must
namoore: no more
on-loft: aloft
privetee: secrets
purposeth: intends
spillen: die
swinketh: works
takel: tackle, gear
tapster: woman who serves ale
tell bedes: pray (e.g., with rosary beads)
trimmeth: prepares
tunnes: barrels
venerye: hunting
werre: war
wodewose: wild man of the woods
yarely: readily
yeman: yeoman

For further information about Chaucer's language, life, and poetry, I heartily recommend the Harvard Chaucer web page. Thus endeth the lesson.

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