Translating and Glossing Nouns in the Old English Gospels: A Contrastive Study

Laura Esteban-Segura


The translation of the Gospels into Old English has been a text edited on several occasions since the sixteenth century, from Parker’s edition (1571) to that by Skeat at the end of the nineteenth century (1871-1887) and, more recently, the one carried out by Liuzza in the second half of the twentieth century.[1] The Old English Gospels have received attention from many scholars working in the field of English historical linguistics. Although the lexical level has been partially analysed (see for instance Liuzza 1994-2000), it is still an under-researched area.

This article aims to examine three versions of the Gospels, namely West Saxon, Lindisfarne and Rushworth, in order to analyse the various mechanisms used by the translator(s) and glossators[2] when rendering lexical items from the original Latin text into the different dialects. The analysis focuses on the study of nouns from an interdialectal perspective, since they are collated in the three different versions, so as to establish dialectal changes. A cross-linguistic approach is also pursued by assessing how the translator(s)/glossators interpreted nouns from Latin.

[1] The Anglo-Saxon Gospels have also been edited by Marshall and Junius (1665), Thorpe (1842), and Bosworth and Waring (1865).

[2] The scribes copying the text of the manuscript could have also had an active role by introducing modifications.


Old English Gospels; West Saxon; Lindisfarne gloss; Rushworth gloss; translation

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