Dieter Studer


Prof. Dr. A. Fischer

Shedding some Light on Old English Scratched Glosses

Some of the earliest known written English language material can be found in Old English glosses. The term gloss in this context refers to usually short word explanations or comments that are written into existing manuscripts, whose original text is usually Latin. Scratched glosses (or dry-point glosses as they are sometimes called) represent a special type of glosses characterized by the fact that they are not written in ink but scratched with a stylus or cut with a knife into the surface of the parchment. Their detection and correct reading heavily depends on the right kind of lighting conditions and there is reason to believe that the corpus of known Old English scratched glosses may yet be expanded considerably. In my dissertation I would like to shed some light (both figuratively and literally) on this somewhat arcane aspect of early Old English literacy.