CHWP B.15 Merrilees, "Medieval Dictionary Entry"

5. Analysing the material

My first analysis of Le Ver's Dictionarius using the interactive concording program, WordCruncher, noted some simple characteristics of Le Ver's use of the post-lemmatic, post-definitional and marginal positions. For the marginal position one could already observe from the manuscript that only abbreviations relating to gender and voice were present, a practice Le Ver adopted from the Aalma. WordCruncher showed that approximately one headword or subheadword in three was accompanied by such a marginal indicator and that the other two metalinguistic positions had very few indications of gender or voice. However, a good deal of other grammatical information was noted in the post-lemmatic position. For example, adverbium appears 4200 times in the DLV, virtually every occurrence is in the post-lemmatic position. Another example of a growing association between the kind of information and its location is found in phonetic description. Phonetic information is given in two ways, either as an ablative absolute, like media correpta or penultima producta, or as a full verb, as in corripitur, producitur. Our analysis showed that the absolute expressions are almost invariably in the post-lemmatic position and the full verbal expressions are mostly post-definitional. This might be determined by the natural order of Latin syntax, but there are other cases where the full verb form is post-lemmatic as well as post-definitional, particularly the definitional connectors such as dicitur, interpretatur, etc.

For a closer analysis of Le Ver's use of the post-lemmatic and the post-definitional positions, text was imported as a delimited ASCII file into a database, in this case Paradox for Windows, and the query function of that program was used for searching the data. The task was both simpler and more complex than for the Papias. Although the divisions within the entries were for the most part clearer, the database needed to account for the headword, the subheadword(s), post-lemmatic information, all definitional material in two languages, metalinguistic information that occurred within the definitional material, post-definitional material again in both languages, and finally marginal material. Because the definitions could be both Latin and French with the Latin sometimes first, sometimes with the French first, and both appearing after some intra-definitional item or information, it was decided to allow four fields to handle the definitional possibilities. This meant designing a database with ten fields:

  1. Lemma
  2. Sub-lemma
  3. Post-lemmatic
  4. Definition 1a
  5. Definition 1b (allows for a change of language)
  6. Intra-definitional
  7. Definition 2a
  8. Definition 2b (allows for a change of language)
  9. Post-definitional
  10. Marginal

Not only did this structure permit analysis of the use of the metalinguistic positions, it also allowed some examination of the role of French and Latin as well as giving a detailed profile of Le Ver's entry patterns. (See Figure 2.)

For the post-lemmatic and post-definitional positions, some of the tendencies that were noted in Papias are more fully developed in Le Ver.

Firstly, the post-lemmatic position is more frequently used in the Le Ver samples (approx. 60% of entries) than in the Papias samples (approx. 30%). The most frequent type of PL information is again the definitional connector, 56% in Le Ver, 43% in Papias; the two other most frequent categories in Le Ver are grammar (including phonetic or orthographic information) 22% and etymology (including derivation and composition) 19%. Papias has 10% and 15% for these two categories. Language indicators or references to a language other than Latin are frequent in Papias (27%), though this is often the citing of a Greek equivalent; in Le Ver an indication of language accounts for just under 2% of PL cases.

For the post-definitional position etymological and derivational information is again the most frequent (55%), but grammatical/phonological information is here more substantial than in Papias (21%). Definitional expansion is less ambiguous in Le Ver and occurs in a smaller proportion of cases (8%). Definitional connectors and language reference, the third and fourth most frequent categories in Papias, are almost eliminated in Le Ver (less than 1% combined). Cross-referencing and references to authorities constitute 14% of PD material in Le Ver. (See Figure 3 and Figure 4.)

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