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THE METRICAL LIFE OF CUTHBERT

This text is printed in The Life or St Cuthbert in English Verse c. AD 1450 (Durham: Surtees Society vol.87, 1891). It should be a useful reference point as literature was presumably written to be read aloud and should not be dominated by traditional legal phraseology as formal documents are prone to be. But the text proves to combine some recognisable dialect forms with others that are Southern or standard but omits (or is ignorant of or fails to use) a number of what now are everyday modern dialect favourites. This alerts us to the likelihood that dialect vocabulary is not stable over the centuries (despite many examples of continuity from Old English or Old Norse through to Middle English (Northern) and the present-day); and also reflects the reality that scribes would be trained to handle a standard (increasingly 'southern') style.

aght - eight: "past aght Zere space" (6621)
alde - old: "alde walles" (494)
algates - in any case (3701)
amang - at times: "many seke men amang he helys" (2063)
ane - one: "ilk ane fra othir" (5734)
anense - as regards (197)
awen - own: "his awen pople" (4616)
ay - ever: "haldand ay his first will" (1498)

bane - bone: "seke in bane and rybb" (3096)
barne - child: "sho was with barne" (253)
bayne - ready: "sho made hir bayne" (2385), "to ete...we were bayne" (2929)
belde - protection: "some traist of thair belde" (5945)
bene - are: "thai bene" (724)
bewschirs - gentlemen (ironically): "the bewschirs...were aschamed" (1188)
bigg - to build: "he bigged thare housyng" (2193)
blake - to make or become pale: "thire enmys...sall blake" (4482)
blithe - glad: "he was blithe of the myracle" (6106)
blyn - cease: "to make thaim...to blyn" (1606) bra - slope: "on bra ne banke" (4981)
brist/brest - burst: "for to breke and bryst his banes" (2492)
busk - prepare: "thai buske with speres hir to sla" (815)

cleke - to catch, snatch: "deeth was him...to cleke" (3116)

daft - unskilful: "to make it I am daft" (443)
dame - mother: "in credill laide, his dame before" (280)
deand - doing: "whils he was deand his office" (3227)
dele - to share: "to take and dele" (5466)
dese - dais: "satt doune opon the dese" (3051)
deyng - dying: "the day of Bedis deyng" (7007)
dilde - ?benumbed: "the paralisy first dilde..." (4034)
dyght - appointed, placed: "and on the pament [pavement] thai it dyght" (6612)
dyng - to beat: "he manast [menaced] him to dyng" (5664)

eghen - eyes: "he spared [closed[ his eghen" (3847)
eftir, aftir - after: "eftir his dede (death)" (8)

fande - found: "thai him fande" (3485)
flaide - scared: "thai flowe [i.e. crows flew] away as thai wer flayde" (2374)
fleand - flying: "ane come fleand to him" (2376)
flitt - to remove, put (trans.): "his banes oute of the erde to flitt" (3880); to depart (intrans.): "thai walde nogt flytt" (7903)
fra - from: "he come fra his awn lande" (15)

ga - go: "ga his gate" (7788)
gang - walk: "nouthir stande na gang" (2550)
gart - compelled: "the priour...gart make a grete bell" (5997)
gate - got (pret.): "he gate leue (leave)" (2165)
gate - road: thai come to the toune yate / thai lete thair oxen in the gate / a while standdand rest" (5819-21)
gere - gear, equipment (associated with a rider): "he left thar all' his gere" (6214)
graith - to ready: "he began the seiues [rushes] graythe" (470)
grete - weeping: "the children gretand" (854)

hedewark - headache: "all' his hedewerk went away" (2580)
hough - rugged, steep hillside: "aboven that hough" (5549)
hyne - person, being, ?servant: "that nobil heyn" (of Cuthbert) (1421)

ilk - every: "on ilk halfe" (392)

kenned - knew: "he kenned thair synnes" (1628)
kest...up - cast... up: "and kest the buke up on the lande" (736) Note: but not hoy or throw
knawe - acknowledge: "to knaw it"
kyst - chest: "the reliks kyst" (4248)

lapped - folded, wrapped: "a clathe samen (together) lapped" (1296)
lasse - a working girl (136)
laykes - games: "leeve thi laykes and lightnes" (1033)
low - flame: "the house had been in brynnande low" (286)

melys - concerns, deals: "The man that with this mater melys" (17)

nesche - soft: "thurgh' harde and nesche" (1413)
nevys - fists: "with' thair nevys" (4684)
noke - nook: "his bedd noke" (3519)

Pace/Pasche - Easter: "before the Pace" (5411), "thai halowed Pace" (5477), "the fest of Pasche" (2273)
preste - priest: "when he was preste" (2785)
pryked - spurred, rode: "pryked fast ouer þe sande" (5755)

rage - romp: "when that childre play and rage" (1012), "Cuthbert, it acords noht the to rage" (1032, of Cuthbert as a child playing)
rawe - row (e.g. of houses): "of the towne on the este rawe" (1881)
reve - to rob, plunder: "thai slew, thai brent, thai robbed, thai reved" (4899)
ryve - to tear: "ryvyng of thak (thatch)" (2368), "the yong man sarke, of some ryvyng had a marke" (6080)

sall - shall: "this sall be thine" (672)
sark - shirt: "the yong man sarke, of some ryvyng had a marke" (6080)
slockyn - to quench: "a fyre to slokyn" (287)
spir - to enquire: "of me to spir" (2994)
stour - commotion, struggle: "he wex sa hate [hot] in slike a stour" (6207)
strekill - sprinkle: "and strenkill it [holy water] opon hir" (3056)

tane - taken: "thai had the childe tane" (967)
teld - told: "wyse monkes...teld him thus" (8306)
thak - thatch (noun): "ryvyng of thak" (2368)
als tite - immediately: "sho als tite was hale" (3069)
tome - empty: "some tounes wex nere tome" (3181)

wyfe - woman: "to man or wyfe" (1707)

yate - gate: "the toune yate" (5819)
ye - you (pl.)

"to man or wyfe" (1707)

yate - gate: "the toune yate" (5819)
ye - you (pl.)