Union Académique Internationale

Medieval Latin Dictionary(ies)

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Project nº5, adopted in 1922.

« Dictionnaire du latin médiéval » is the title of the fifth project of the UAI, presented in 1920 and launched in 1924, from a suggestion of Ferdinand Lot at the International Committee of Historical Sciences in London in 1913. Its purpose was to provide medievalists with a research instrument comparable to the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae, by replacing the ancient Glossarium Mediae et Infimae Latinitatis by Charles Du Cange (1678) with a modern scientific dictionary, intended to give an account of all the uses of Latin on all the European territory during the entire medieval period. The first years were mainly devoted to the accumulation of lexicographical data, in the form of manual collection and analysis of medieval Latin documentation, distributed among the UAI member countries, each one having in charge the works produced on its territory. But it soon became clear: the medieval millennium had transmitted many more texts than the period covered by the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae, and the Novum Glossarium Mediae Latinititas had to reduce its ambitions. The “Du Cange Committee”, coordinator of the project, then took the initiative to limit the chronological amplitude of the international dictionary to the central period of the Middle Ages (800-1200), inviting each of its members to complete it by writing a “national” instrument that would reflect the geographical and chronological diversity of medieval Latin, taking advantage of the fact that collection and analysis were already done. The complementarity of the whole was emphasized by the decision to start the writing of the international dictionary in the middle of the alphabet (by the letter L), while the national dictionaries would start at the beginning (by the letter A), for the purpose to cover the whole alphabet twice as fast. On the eve of its centenary, the « Dictionnaire du latin médiéval » of the UAI is thus the sum of an international dictionary, of about fifteen national dictionaries, and of the journal Archivum Latinitatis Medii Aevi, associated with the project as early as 1924 to offer a place of exchange and publication to the teams of the network, without waiting for the publication of the first volumes of the dictionary. Depending on the extent of their documentation and the means implemented, some dictionaries are completed, others are still being written, and the coverage of the alphabet remains largely disparate. But all these works have their own characters, reflecting their history as much as the one they tell: treatment of graphic variations, of alphabetical order, or references to ancient Latin are all differences that in no way detracts from the complementarity of these instruments. In addition, the writing of the international dictionary has deprived France of a French dictionary of medieval Latin, and the Novum Glossarium Mediae Latinitatis must take this into account. The name « Nouveau Du Cange » does not mean that the « Dictionnaire du latin médiéval » is a redesign of the former Glossarium Mediae et Infimae Latinitatis. Even at the completion of the project, the later will remain indispensable for the study of the late Middle Ages, since most of the dictionaries of Western Europe are limited to the thirteenth century. And while the main dictionaries of the UAI are generally limited to published texts, manuscripts have been an important part of Charles Du Cange’s sources. With the instruments of the UAI and their ancestor of the seventeenth century, medievalists have the means to avoid the permanent risk of anachronism that comes with the use of ancient Latin dictionaries.

List of national dictionaries

Germany (a. 500-1280) Mittellateinisches Wörterbuch bis zum ausgehenden 13. Jahrhundert

Bohemia (a. 800-1500) Latinitatis Medii aevi Lexicon Bohemorum

Castilla y León (a. 700-1230) Lexicon Latinitatis medii aevi regni Legionis imperfectum

Catalonia (a. 800-1100) Glossarium Mediae Latinitatis Cataloniae

Denmark (ante 1560) Lexicon Mediae Latinitatis Danicae

Finland (ante 1530) Glossarium Latinitatis Medii aevi Finlandicae

Great Britain (a. 500-1600) Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources : http://www.dmlbs.ox.ac.uk/web/online.html

Hungary (a. 1000-1526) Lexicon Latinitatis Medii aevi Hungariae

Ireland (a. 400-1200) The Non-Classical Lexicon of Celtic Latinity

Italy (ante 1022) Latinitatis Italicae Medii aevi Lexicon imperfectum

The Netherlands (a. 800-1500) Lexicon Latinitatis Nederlandicae Medii aevi

Poland (a. 1000-1600) Lexicon Mediae et Infimae Latinitatis Polonorum

Romania (a. 1000-1500) Glossarium Mediae Latinitatis Actorum Transylvaniae, Moldaviae et Transalpinae Historiam Illustrantium

Sweden (a. 1150-1500) Glossarium Mediae Latinitatis Suediae

Yugoslavia (a. 800-1526): Lexicon Latinitatis Medii aevi Iugoslaviae