Michael Wolf
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Words of Sir John Mandeville | An Assembly of Amusing Old Words
Last edited - 2022/06/09


Earlier this year I came across a copy of the Travels of Sir John Mandeville (you can read it here or here). It's a travel memoir from the 14th century which describes fantastical lands far to the east of Europe based on earlier writings which were mostly based on hearsay. Needless to say, I found what I sought-- the surreal imaginings of the medieval author-- I also came across a trove of fun Middle English words that I heretofore had not encountered (the bulk of the Canterbury Tales and Le Morte DArthur await a rereading upon the bookshelf). The version of the Travels that I read is based on the Cotton Manuscript which is thought to have been written in French then translated to Latin before being translated to English. Needless to say, there's a lot of Frenchness and a dearth of well-composed sentences.

Without further ado, I present:

A Glossary of Fun Old Words Postscript

In the course of authoring this blog post I made my first contributions to the Wiktionary, adding a few quotes from the book here and there and adding the skeletal outlines of word defintions that were not yet created. I had, up to this point, been too meek to make edits to Wikipedia, but this has inspired a certain level of confidence in me. It's no harder than making a pull request!