'Contextualized lexicography',

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The essay takes into examination the technique by which words drawn from glossaries or other kinds of lexicographic compilations were embedded in both prose and verse and went to build a lexical continuum. The definition I propose for such a technique is ‘contextualized lexicography’. It dates from late antiquity, if not earlier, but it was in a number of works composed in the Middle Ages and circulating in the British Isles that it became the governing principle of composition. A penchant for this device is evident in different genres, both literary and utilitarian. These works were written with various aims and addressed to different kinds of audience. The stylistic feature under discussion was not an indigenous development, and the most relevant examples came to England from the Continent. Fleury stands out as an important link in the diffusion of contextualized lexicography to the tenth-century English centres of learning. Contextualized lexicography enjoyed an enduring success also in the following centuries when it was put to various uses. It became an effective didactic tool helping readers to memorize and widen their vocabulary, sometimes carried to excess. A talented author such as Abbo of Saint-Germain-des-Prés succeeded in exploiting the allusive potential of contextualized lexicography and his work engaged the reader in an intellectual game. As with Ælfric Bata’s colloquies, it is not easy to decide whether his exercises of virtuosism were indeed intended to instruct or show off. The English were the first to experiment with contextualized lexicography to teach Latin and, afterwards, in the thirteenth century, they implemented it to teach French as well.The paper is included in the second volume of essays in honour of Michael Lapidge, who was Elrington and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at the University of Cambridge. The volume is part of the series ‘Toronto Old English Series’, published by the University of Toronto Press. The essay will be reprinted in the volume: Ashgate Critical Essays on Early English Lexicographers, I. Old English, ed. C. Franzen, Aldershot, Ashgate/Variorum, 2012.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospiteLatin Learning and English Lore. Studies in Anglo-Saxon Literature for Michael Lapidge
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2005


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