guide to the Middle English Compendium

Help in using the Middle English Dictionary

Help in using the HyperBibliography Help in using the Corpus of Middle English General advice on searching and using the forms

MED: understanding the dictionary entries

Headword purpel n.
Form section (headword and forms) purpel n. Also purple, purpul(le, pourpul, purpalle, porpel; cp. purpur(e n.
Etymology
[From purpel adj.]
Definition 1.
A rich cloth dyed purple; also, a garment of purple cloth, esp. royal raiment; ~ and pal, rich fabrics; also, expensive or regal clothing; induen with ~, to clothe (sb.) in the royal purple.
Quotations illustrating each definition.
Every quotation is preceded by a stencil and a reference. Stencils contain: date(s), title/source information, and MS abbreviation (here in green). Where two dates are supplied (see last quot.), the first refers to the date of the manuscript, the second (in parentheses) to the date or conjectural date of composition. References (here in red) are to line, page, etc. Each stencil in the MED is linked to the corresponding entry in the HyperBibliography.*
c1390 Bi a wey (Vrn)  38:  I-put he [Job] was in pore array, Nouþer in purpul ne in pal, But in symple wede.    c1390 Bi a wode (Vrn)  66:  if þou beo a fryk mon in þi floures, And haue vnbou3t boþe purpel & pal, At Masse..Þer-in þi sauor is ful smal.   c1390 Disp.Christian & J. (Vrn)   166:  On vche a syde of þe halle Pourpul, pelure, and palle.    ?a1400 Apoc. in LuSE (Rwl C.750) p.137:  Purpil [Hrl 874: þe womman was cloþed in purpre].   c1425(a1420) Lydg. TB (Aug A.4)   5.2527:  Pirrus..gan anon to araie hym newe, Al in purpil, whiche, as clerkes telles, Is for kynges & for no wy3t elles. 
Definition with usage label (here in red) 2.
(a) The color purple in one of its hues, esp. crimson or the color of venous blood; bleu ~, iris blue; rede ~, purplish red, crimson [some quots. here may belong under 1.]; (b) her. the heraldic tincture purple, perhaps sometimes indistinguishable from gules.

*For more information about stencil links, please see MED: links to the HyperBibliography below.

Help topics

MED: understanding the character display of Middle English

Sometimes you will notice that a letter in a text is represented by an image (in "gif" format) of that letter rather than a character from one of your computer's screen fonts. You may notice this because you try to copy and paste some text and some of it is missing, or because you have the image display turned off on your browser and you see icons that indicate an image in a surprising place. This means that a little picture of a letter is used instead of an actual letter.

Why would we do this?

Middle English includes characters that are no longer part of our standard alphabets or punctuation and thus are not represented by contemporary fonts. In addition, the MED uses several diacritics to distinguish between, for example, short and long versions of a given vowel. Because of the current limits of Web technology and/or the lack of public domain fonts, we have difficulty representing these characters. We have compromised by making by hand these little images that simulate the appearance of many of the characters in the original texts. As Web and font technology develop, we hope to be able to eliminate the use of these character gifs.

Help topics

MED: choosing a search type

Lookups: Search the MED entries: this type of search allows you to: Search the MED quotations: this type of search allows you to: Help topics

MED: using the searches: lookup searches

These are simple searches that look for your word as a main entry point, i.e., as a headword, or in the combined headword and form sections. To search:
  1. Enter your word or phrase in the text box.
  2. Click on the search button to submit your search.
This search will return a linked list of entries that use your term as a headword (or form).

For example: You are searching for the word stat. You decide to do a lookup.

  1. Enter stat in the lookup text box.
  2. Choose whether you wish to search on headword only or on the headword and forms section.
  3. Click on the search button to submit your search.
Keep in mind that this search will not find definitions or quotations that include the word stat. You would need to do an entry search to find those.

All lookup searches return a list of matches linked to the full MED entries for those matches.
 
simplified regular expression searching: It is possible to use wildcard characters in a modified form of regular experssion searching in order to look for variant forms within form sections:
* means zero or more of any character.
? means one character, ?? means exactly two characters (but any two characters), and so on.
[ ] searches for any single one of the characters within the brackets. 

For Example:
 
tak "tak" as a complete form tak
*tak "tak" at the end of a word psitak, stak, tak, thistel-tak
tak* "tak" at the beginning of a word tak, takel, ta macronken, taket, etc.
t[aeiou]k "tak", "tek", "tik", "tok", "tuk", as complete forms tak, tik, tuk
t*aunce "t" followed by zero or more of any character before "aunce", as complete forms temperaunce, traunce, tresaunce, etc.
tr?m "tr" followed by any one character before an "m", as complete forms trim, trum
t???m "t" followed by any three characters before an "m", as complete forms tharm, theim, thrum

Full regular expression searching is also available for lookup searches.

Help topics

MED: searching by date

Enter digits only in date searches; results will include all dates which include those digits (see the table below).
 
Enter: To return:
13 all dates with four digits beginning "13.."; such as ?a1300, c1325, 1350-60, ?a1425(1373), etc.
132 all dates with four digits beginning "132.."; such as c1320, ?1325, 1324-5, a1400(1323), etc.
1300 dates containing "1300"; such as 1300, a1300, ?c1300, ?1300, etc.

Help topics

MED: using the searches: entry searches

To understand better the structure of MED entries, you may want to consult the entry map. You may also search on headwords or headword and form sections (see lookup searches above). You may combine fields or terms using Boolean logic, or look for words or phrases within a specified proximity in definitions.

To search:

  1. Enter the words or phrases that you wish to search in the text boxes.
  2. Use the pull down menus next to the text boxes to indicate the part of the entry to which you would like to restrict your search.
  3. If you would like to combine multiple search terms, use the pull down menus to select Boolean operators.
  4. Click on the search button to submit your search.
The search will return a list of those entries which match your search specifications; the matches are linked to the full dictionary entry.

Help topics

MED: using the searches: quotation searches

Quotations illustrate the use of a word. This search helps you find a designated form, word, phrase or combination of words within stencils and quotations. You may restrict the search in various powerful ways, by using the pull down menus. You may combine fields or terms using Boolean logic or look for words or phrases within a specified proximity within quotations.

To search:

  1. Enter the words, phrases, dates, or other terms that you wish to search in the text boxes.
  2. Use the pull down menus next to the text boxes to indicate whether you would like to restrict your search to a certain part of the quotations and stencils.
  3. If you would like to combine multiple search terms, use the pull down menus to select Boolean operators.
  4. Click on the search button to submit your search.
For example: You are interested in quotations that contain the word doke in the quoted text.
  1. Enter doke in the text box.
  2. Click on the pull down menu and select Quotation by clicking on it.
  3. Click on the search button to submit your search.
This simple search will return a list of quotations containing doke and links to the full dictionary entries in which the quotations appear. A more complex search, using Boolean operators, would, for example, allow you to retrieve fourteenth-century quotations containing man from Herefordshire texts recorded in the MED.

Help topics

MED: some suggestions on spelling

The Middle English spelling of a given word may vary greatly according to date, place, and the spelling practices of individual scribes. Here are some considerations to bear in mind as you search in the MED.

You have two possible routes to follow, and you may wish to use different spelling strategies for each. The first is to use the Lookup search and search by headword or headword and forms. This is the first field you find in an MED entry, before the definitions begin. The second is to search for a given form using one of the other two main search options.

  1. Lookup searches: In the form section the MED has assembled a summary of the spelling forms of the headword occurring in the quotations. But the possible multiplicity of forms in the quotations is reduced to manageable numbers by various kinds of normalizations in the form section. Most of these are fairly predictable (þ, ð and th are normally treated as th; vocalic y or j and i as i; vocalic w and v as u; sh, sch, ssh, ssch are usually reduced to sh; -ed, -yd and -id are treated as ed; double vowels are reduced to single vowels). In general, normalization is in the direction of the forms found in Chaucer or 14th century East Midland Middle English.

    You need to bear this in mind as you type in search items in a Lookup search of headwords or form sections. The precise spelling form you are in search of may be well attested in the quotations, but may be "normalized" in the form section display. If a Lookup search fails for the form you type in, consider (a) substituting possible "normalized" spellings, (b) using wildcard characters as described elsewhere in the Help section and on the MED Lookups page, (c) using one of the other two MED search options offered.

  2. Other searches: "Search the MED entries" and "Search the MED quotations." The former will allow you to enter either the precise spelling form in which you are interested, or a truncated form of it (note, however, that wildcard character searches are available only in Lookup searches). If your search is unsuccessful, consider possible variant spelling forms which may be attested and helpful, involving such common alternatives as: double or single consonants or vowels, y/3, 3/gh, þ/ð/th, u/v, u/w, i/j/y, e/ea, e/eo/ie, on/oun, -ed/-yd/-id, -es/-is/-ys, the presence or absence of final -e, and the various possible reflexes of the OE vowels and diphthongs.

    Be careful about copying and pasting in Middle English words in text boxes. The upper-case letters A, O, T, and Y will be read respectively as representing ash (æ, Æ), oe (the oe ligature), thorn (þ, Þ) or (ð, Ð), lower or upper-case yogh.

Help topics

MED: links to the HyperBibliography

Each illustrative quotation begins with a stencil which identifies the date and source of the quotation. We have almost completed the process of linking all MED stencils to the corresponding entries in the HyperBibliography, and of adding the MS abbreviation and shelfmark to every MED stencil.

The current status of any stencil in MED entries or search results is shown by its font weight. Bold links are complete, supply manuscript details, and link reliably to the appropriate HyperBibliography entries. The remaining normal links are under development, and use a rudimentary matching process. We make them available as a useful temporary resource, but they must be used with caution. They may:

You may easily confirm that a normal stencil link has taken you to the correct HyperBibliography entry by comparing the MED and HyperBibliography stencils for date, title and manuscript details.

Help topics

HyperBibliography: browsing options

The HyperBibliography offers the following browsing options:

HyperBibliography titles: A list, alphabetically ordered, of the titles of all Middle English works cited in the MED. Titles are almost always taken from the Manual, but the spelling is normalized or modernized to simplify searching.

Authors: A list of identified medieval authors whose works are quoted in the MED. In most cases their names do not occur in stencils but they may be retrieved here or from the full entries in the HyperBibliography.

Stencils: A complete (and long!) list of all stencils used as as bibliographic references for MED quotations. For more on stencils, see the entry map.

Manuscripts and Prints: A list of all manuscripts and prints cited in the HyperBibliography. Choosing this option will take you to a list of manuscript repositories and collections. Where the MED cites multiple manuscripts from the same repository (e.g., Corpus Christi College, Cambridge), selecting one of these repositories or collections will take you to a list of individual manuscripts arranged by shelfmark and linked to the HyperBibliography entries which cite the manuscripts. If only one manuscript is at present cited from a given repository (e.g., Queen's College, Cambridge), the link will take you directly to the HyperBibliography entry which cites that manuscript.

Documents: "Document" is used to identify a large class of records and archival material, including letters, legislative and juridical materials, registers, inventories, accounts, etc. Our information on the current repositories for many of these materials is incomplete, and is, therefore, provided only when we have been able to confirm our records.

Help topics

HyperBibliography: choosing a search type

The HyperBibliography offers a variety of search possibilities:

Standard searches

bibliographic reference LALME Identification of Scribal Dialects Help topics

HyperBibliography: using the searches: Standard searches

Select a field from the pull down menu. Your choices are: To search:
  1. Select the field you would like to search from the pull down menu.
  2. Enter your word or phrase in the text box.
  3. Hit enter or click on the search button to submit your search.
For example:

You are interested in the works of Reginald Pecock.

  1. Choose Author from the pull down menu.
  2. Enter Pecock in the text box.
  3. Click on the search button to submit your search.
This search will return a list of titles of the works of Pecock that are included in the HyperBibliography. The titles are linked to the entries for these works.

Help topics

HyperBibliography: using the searches: Bibliographic reference searches

The HyperBibliography allows you to search by a citation number from the following bibliographies: To search:
  1. Select the bibliographic source you are using from the pull down menu.
  2. Enter the citation number in the text box.
  3. Click on the search button to submit your search.
For example:

You are searching for the HyperBibliography entry for "a form of an oath for a herald" listed in IPMEP with the citation number 346.

  1. Select IPMEP from the pull down menu.
  2. Enter 346 in the text box.
  3. Click on the search button to submit your search.
This search will retrieve the entry for the item bearing the IPMEP number of 346 -- in this case, the Oath of a Herald.

Help topics

HyperBibliography: using the searches: LALME searches

LALME searches enable you to match Middle English texts or portions of texts with LALME findings about their scribal dialects. They may be carried out in HyperBibliography Standard Searches, or in the searching by county option.

We recommend that you read a note about LALME and LALME references in MEC.

To search scribal dialects by county:

  1. Select the county from the pull down menu.
  2. Click on the search button to submit your search.
This search will retrieve a list of works used by the MED copied in a scribal dialect assigned by LALME places to that county. The titles are hyperlinked to the HyperBibliography entries for those works.

Help topics

About help in using the Corpus of Middle English

The Corpus of Middle English is a full text collection produced and maintained by the University of Michigan Humanities Text Initiative. It has its own separate help database that it shares with other HTI collections. This can be accessed through the help links that are in place in the navigation bars in the Corpus. (Please note that this help database is under development; if the help links are not in place at this time, they will be shortly.)

Help topics

Some general advice on searching and using the forms

General Search Tips:

Bookbagging

"Bookbagging" is an easy and efficient way to restrict your searches to a single text or a subset of texts in the Corpus of Middle English Prose and Verse. Each search option allows you to restrict the search to selected works from the CME Bibliography. Your search will otherwise extend through the entire database. If you wish to use the bookbag option, first click on the selected works button, check the works you want to use, click on the button at top or bottom which takes you back to your chosen search option, and proceed with your search. A list of the works you have chosen for your bookbag will appear below the search boxes.

Pull down menus

Many of the search forms have options that are available on pull down menus.

Submit buttons

In Boolean and proximity searches, you have to push the submit button to make the search work. Hitting the enter key is not enough. Move your mouse to the button and click.

Text boxes

In a search form with more than one box you have to fill out the first box. Otherwise your search will not return any results. Make sure that you place your cursor in the text box before you begin typing.
Help topics

Boolean searches

Boolean searching allows you to combine search terms and/or fields. You may combine the terms with and, or, and not.

This search should be used:

Help topics

Precedence of Boolean Operators

Boolean expressions are operated on from left to right. This means that you will need to take some care in formulating your search.

For example: You wish to find any entries that contain the word worthiAND either the words woman ORlady.

Your search should be formulated as: (woman OR lady) ANDworthi.

Understanding the results:

If you had formulated your search as worthi AND woman OR lady you would have gotten a very different set of results. Why? Help topics

Proximity Searching

Proximity searching looks for the co-occurrence of search terms.

It is a useful type of search:

Entering your terms: type the two or three words or phrases you are looking for in the boxes. If you have only two search terms, you must type in the first and second boxes. Capitalization is not important.

Keep in mind:

Help topics

HyperBibliography | MED | Corpus | Other Resources | About | Help | MEC Main Page
mec-info@umich.edu