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Department of Medieval Lexicography


Nam sine vocabulis mens inscia dicitur omnis
Bartholomaei Clareti Vocabularius grammaticus, v. 4

Mgr. Pavel Nývlt

Mgr. Julie Černá Ph.D.,
PhDr. Hana Florianová, Mgr. Barbora Kocánová Ph.D., PhDr. Zuzana Silagiová, Mgr. Hana Šedinová Ph.D., Mgr. Kateřina Vršecká

The Dictionary of Medieval Latin in Czech lands
was founded in 1934 by Prof. Dr. Bohumil Ryba, and since then until the 1970s (with breaks enforced by political situation), excerption of sources was taking place. In 1977, first fascicule appeared, containing editorial principles and lists of sources and abbreviations. First two volumes of the Dictionary, encompassing letters A–C and D–H, were published by a publishing house Academia. Since 1995, when fifteenth fascicule was released, the Dictionary is published by Koniasch Latin Press. A book series Fontes Latini Bohemorum was founded in the Cabinet in 1996, a Library of Medieval Tradition in 1997. Since then, the series are published by a publishing house Oikoumene Prague.

Focus of Research:
The main aim of the Department is to create a
Dictionary of Medieval Latin in Czech lands that is intended to form a part of a complete dictionary of medieval Latin which is to replace DuCange’s Lexicon (Du Cange, Glossarium mediae et infimae Latinitatis, Graz 1883-1887) and to encompass the vocabulary of Medieval Latin throughout the whole of Europe. Another longterm project of the department is publishing of two book series, Fontes Latini Bohemorum and Library of Medieval Tradition. Members of the department also publish separate studies on subtopics of Latin medieval studies, e. g., medieval botany, medicine, zoology or meteorology.

The Projects:
The Dictionary of Medieval Latin in Czech Lands
registers vocabulary as used in Czech lands since the beginnings of Latin letters in this area (from about 1000 AD) to 1500 AD. Material, today amounting to ca. 800 000 excerpt sheets, was gathered from sources of various types (diplomatical, official, belles-lettres, scientific literature etc.) of Czech provenance. It provides thorough and sufficiently informative data about the wide range and heterogeneity of means of expression to be found in Latin letters of the Czech Middle Ages. The merit of our Dictionary, as compared to those created in foreign countries, is its inclusion, not only of the sources available in modern editions, but also of those which remain in manuscripts or old prints, gathered from Czech as well as foreign libraries. Thus, it offers a path to a great wealth of words that would otherwise remain hidden in unpublished sources. Especially valuable for a cognizance of the medieval mentality are quotations from medieval treatises (for instance, from juristic, theological, philosophical, botanical, zoological, alchemistic or astronomical writings), from public acts and numerous Czech and German vocabularies.

The Dictionary differentiates its content from and complements the eighth edition of Georges’ LatinGerman Lexicon (K. E. Georges-H. Georges, Ausführliches lateinisch-deutsches Handwörterbuch I, II, Basel 19138). This method, stipulated by rules of Du Cange Committee for creating dictionaries of Medieval Latin, allows the capture of all phonological, morphological, syntactical, stylistic, prosodic and semantic divergences of Medieval Latin vocabulary carried over from the ancient era as compared with classical norms; the study of its changes and developments in new social and cultural conditions; and also the separate analysis of peculiar and newly-emerged words from Medieval Latin. Explanations in entries are given in Latin and Czech, Latin explanations having the character of a definition, the Czech ones being basically translations.

The Dictionary is intended for Czech and foreign scholars in all areas of medieval studies. The excerpt sheets are accessible on demand from the Institute.

Index of sources, list of abbreviations, brief extracts from the Dictionary and an overview of fascicules published so far can be found here. Publication of twenty second fascicule is to be expected in 2013. A twenty third fascicule which is to cover entries mo-mu is planned to be released in 2015.

Fontes Latini Bohemorum is a book series which aims at providing Czech and foreign scholars as well as more general public with a possibility to access Czech medieval and humanistic works that have not been published before. The texts are provided with critical apparatus, facing Czech translations and rich commentaries and indices. They are preceded by introductory studies in both Czech and foreign language. In this way, strictly scholarly and popularising presentation is coupled: the specialised public is given an authentic, reliable text allowing further research, while members of more general public may read (apart from the Czech translation) an erudite introduction to the relevant topic and factual comments on the text.

The series was formerly managed by Hana Šedinová (Cabinet for Classical Studies) and Lenka Karfíková (Evangelic Theological Faculty of Charles University in Prague), since 2002 by Hana Šedinová and Zuzana Silagiová (Cabinet for Classical Studies). An overview of volumes published so far can be found here. For illustration purposes, examples of original manuscripts and illuminations in the texts are appended.

The Library of Medieval Tradition is a book series intended to provide Czech readers with important works of medieval thinking, accompanied by introductory studies and comprehensive commentaries, thus making less well known aspects of European culture accessible to them. Apart from a large-scale project of publishing Isidore of Seville’s encyclopaedia Etymologiae, writings of important schools of “the 12th century renaissance” – school of Hugo of Saint Victor and the School of Chartres – important writings of the Middle Ages by Bonaventura, Suger of Saint-Denis, and Roger Bacon are being published. The author of the medieval encyclopaedia Etymologiarum sive Originum libri XX, Isidore of Seville († 636), is one of the most important medieval savants and his twenty books of Etymologies was the basic medieval encyclopaedia not just in the area of the seven liberal arts and theology, but also medicine, natural sciences and nascent technology. Although Isidore’s personality and work have enjoyed a good deal of attention all over the world, his Etymologies have not long ago been translated fully only in Spanish and Italian, with only minimal commentaries and very general introductions. Translating this work in Czech with detailed explanatory comments and extensive introductory studies is one of the important projects of Czech medieval studies and draws attention of foreign scholars, too. The books results from work of a team of experts comprising especially classical philologists and students of middle ages who participate on the projects in roles of translators, commentators, authors of introductory studies, proofreaders and technical editors. Of the twenty books of the work, eighteen have already been published. The series is directed by Lenka Karfíková, until 2014 it has been directed by Lenka Karfíková and Hana Šedinová. An overview of volumes published so far can be found here.

International Collaboration:
The Dictionary of Medieval Latin in Czech Lands
forms part of an international project directed by the International Union of Academies (Union Académique Internationale), located in Brussels. Most European countries are participating in this vast and longterm scholarly project.