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The only surviving work of a grammarian working in the fourth century called Nonius Marcellus, the De compendiosa doctrina (‘A doctrinal compendium’), is a dictionary of Latin usage. The dictionary was compiled from early literary texts, some of which are lost works from the Roman Republic. It is divided into 20 books, ordered according to words used by the various Latin authors. This copy of the text was made in the 3rd quarter of the ninth century in Brittany. It contains an early version of the text, which is close to the original.
The margins feature numerous glosses, or commentaries, predominantly in Latin, commenting on and explaining the contents. Within the Latin glosses are a handful of words in Old French and Old Breton, the Celtic language of Brittany, which are rare early examples of these languages in written form.
This manuscript was digitised with the support of The Polonsky Foundation.
Public Domain in most countries other than the UK.
Hannah Morcos looks at how the vernacular of northern France evolved from a regional spoken language to a cross-European written medium between the 8th and 12th centuries.