Some 70% of the words used in modern English can be traced back to a common source: Anglo-Norman, the dialect of French introduced into the British Isles as a result of the Norman Conquest of 1066 which was to serve as a language of literature, law, commerce, education, and administration into the late Middle Ages. Wherever one looks - historical chronicles, medicinal treatises, legal records - the central role played by Anglo-Norman in the life of medieval Britain is evident.
The most comprehensive account of the vocabulary of this language is the Anglo-Norman Dictionary (AND). The idea of the AND was conceived over seventy years ago, and culminated originally in a series of volumes printed between 1977-92 (AND1). This was soon overtaken by a thorough programme of revision to produce a widely expanded dictionary - freely available online since 2006 (www.anglo-norman.net). As the recognised authority on the Anglo-Norman lexis, crowned by the award of the Prix Honoré Chavée by the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres in Paris (2011), the online AND has become an indispensable tool not only for a broad congregation of academic specialists such as linguists, lexicographers, historians, and literary scholars, but also for a constant influx of non-specialists, such as teachers, pupils, and amateur historians and genealogists, wishing to know more about this crucial aspect of their heritage.
The current project will continue the revision of AND in two key ways.
First, following the successful completion of the revision of the entries for letters A-Q, the AND will now revise letters R & S over a 48-month period, at a rate of approximately 750 entries per annum. The revision process re-investigates and improves every current AND1 entry for semantic detail and textual coverage, and adds new entries for the many new words which have been newly located. For the sake of illustration, in the recently revised N- entries, the number of substantive entries more than doubl(from 339 to 887), as did the number of senses (931 to 2088), with four times the number of illustrative citations (from 1075 to 4218).
The revision of R & S will also raise their entries to the higher academic standards which distinguish the online AND's entries from those of AND1 and make it a versatile tool for studying Anglo-Norman in its multilingual and sociological context. These include the systematic cross-referencing of all entries to those in dictionaries of medieval French, Latin, and English; the addition of searchable 'usage labels' in definitions, which allow the analysis of the language through domains, or onomasiological fields; and the addition of editorial commentaries highlighting linguistic, semantic, or historical aspects of more complex entries.
Second, the online AND will undergo a significant transformation into a historical dictionary. The AND was originally conceived as a semantic dictionary, intended to show the meanings of words but not their development over time. Increasingly, as the online AND has incorporated hyperlinks to cognate dictionaries which outline the diachronic development of their entries, users have assumed, despite warnings to the contrary, that the organisation of the online AND is also historic and provides the earliest attestations of words. In order to reinforce the central position of the AND in the study of the Anglo-Norman language, this project will introduce a diachronic dimension into the revision of R & S, by locating and highlighting earliest attestations of words and senses. This approach will also be applied retrospectively through a semi-automated process to the existing online entries for A-Q and U. This innovation will ensure a better understanding of the development and use of Anglo-Norman, and will have important benefits for our perception of the history of the English language and of the nature of medieval Britain's multilingual society.
More than 60% of the section R- has now been revised in full, bringing this section in line with the high academic standard of the preceding sections. In addition, close to 75% of all citations in the dictionary (A-Z) have now been dated in the underlying XML.