The Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources (DMLBS), the first fascicle of which appeared in 1975 and the 17th and last in 2013, is “the most comprehensive dictionary of Medieval Latin to have been produced and the first ever to focus on British Medieval Latin”. Covering a particularly long period stretching from Gildas (fl. 540) to William Camden (1600), it is “wholly based on original research”, that is to say on the close reading of thousands of Medieval Latin texts. This has been carried out specifically for the purpose of recording their distinctive lexical characteristics, and, as far as possible, using the best available sources, whether original manuscripts or modern critical editions. It is also based on systematic searches within computer databases, including the Library of Latin Texts, where many of the texts can be found that make up the sources for the DMLBS.
The digitised version of the DMLBS, without at all taking away the usefulness of the printed version, presents a real asset in that it allows searching not only by headwords, but also by Latin word-forms, non-Latin word-forms, references and the full text, criteria that can be combined in a single search.
The online launch of the DMLBS on the Brepolis platform is the result of a collaboration between the British Academy and Brepols Publishers.
The “British sources” as defined here are mainly Latin texts written in Great Britain during the period mentioned above, either by British authors or by authors who lived in Britain (among them Anselm of Aosta or of Canterbury and Lanfranc).
However, the DMLBS also includes British authors such as Alcuin or Wynfrith (alias Boniface), who have written abroad, as well as texts coming from territories under the administration of the English crown (such as Ireland, the Channel Islands, Normandy), and finally, letters and other documents in Latin sent to British authors and conserved among their writings.
Latin in Britain
Although in itself a foreign language in Britain, Latin has known in this country, mainly as a written language, a remarkable vitality in the Middle Ages. So we know the names of more than 2,000 authors writing in British medieval Latin, more than 500 of whom are regularly cited as sources in the DMLBS, without counting the many texts by anonymous authors, as well as private and public records.
Like other dictionaries of “regional” medieval Latin, the DMLBS focuses primarily on the characteristics of the Latin of the reference context, be it new meanings of existing words or new words, which are not found elsewhere.
These new words can have a completely Latin formation, such as we see in the verb semidormitare found in the De excidio Britanniae of Gildas, or they can be derived from a variety of languages, including Anglo-Saxon, Anglo-Norman, Middle English, Norman, Old French, Arabic (with the discovery of philosophical and scientific texts), Old Norse, a series of Celtic and Germanic languages, as well as Greek, which remained an important influence.
Key Features – Online Version
- The complete printed version (©Oxford University Press) available online alone or as part of the Database of Latin Dictionaries
- Multilingual interface (English, French, German and Italian)
- Search by Latin dictionary headwords, Latin words, non-Latin words, textual references and full text
Ability to use Wildcards and Operators
- The list of common abbreviations as well as the bibliographical information have been included in the online version
Clusters & Related Databases
The DMLBS is included in the Database of Latin Dictionaries together with 25 other Latin dictionaries.
The Database of Latin Dictionaries is included in the cluster BREPOLiS Latin Complete (BL-C), along with the full-text databases Library of Latin Texts, Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Archive of Celtic-Latin Literature, Aristoteles Latinus Database, and the Cross Database Search Tool.
The Database of Latin Dictionaries is also included in the cluster Library of Latin Texts – Complete Plus (LLT+), together with the Library of Latin Texts.