The Bilingual Thesaurus of Everyday Life in Medieval England

The Bilingual Thesaurus of Everyday Life in Medieval England contains vocabulary relating to seven domains of everyday life for two languages in use in Medieval England.

The category tree showing Anglo-Norman and Middle English words for 'Brewer'
The category tree showing Anglo-Norman and Middle English words for 'Brewer'

The seven domains are: Building, Domestic Activities, Farming, Food Preparation, Manufacture, Trade, Travel by Water. Terms have been collected for two languages in use in Medieval England: Anglo French (also known as Anglo-Norman) and Middle English.

This Thesaurus of Middle English and Anglo-French (also known as Anglo-Norman) words captures the influence of Anglo-French on the English used in various everyday occupational domains following the Norman Conquest. It is designed to allow users to conduct research on the presence of terms borrowed from French and/or the resistance to French in these non-elite areas of life in medieval England. Among various possible ways to explore the Bilingual Thesaurus, it allows an assessment to be made of how far particular areas of working life were subject to contact-induced linguistic change, and whether acceptance of or resistance to French lexical influence varied significantly by occupational domain.

The vocabulary in the Bilingual Thesaurus comes from the Anglo-Norman Dictionary, the Middle English Dictionary and the Oxford English Dictionary. Its structure makes use of the category structures of the Historical Thesaurus though these were occasionally modified in order to capture the ways in which conceptions in the Middle Ages differed from those of the present day.

The vocabulary of the Bilingual Thesaurus is categorised according to semantic roles. These begin with the notion of ‘activity’ as the central concept in an occupational domain, and are focussed on ‘processes’. A process has agents who carry it out, objects on which it is carried out, and instruments with which it is carried out. There may also be a specialised location in which the process is undertaken.

Project website: https://thesaurus.ac.uk/bth/


Main contact: Louise Sylvester

Developer: Brian Aitken

Start year: 2013

End year: 2019

Funded by: Leverhulme Trust

Subject area: English Language & Linguistics

Keyword: History of English

Record last updated 2020-01-28