Bede Core Vocabulary Graph

Bede Core Percentage Chart.emf_.png
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  Core Non-Core
Cicero, De Amicitia 12-13 131 25
Bede HE 110 46
Gildas  94 62
Hisperica Famina 35 121
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The graph shows the ratios of DCC Core and Non-Core vocabulary in the first section (156 words) of Bede’s Praefatio and in a 156-word selection from Cicero’s Dē Amicitiā (1st c. BCE), Gildas’s Dē Excidiō et Conquestū Britanniae (6th c. CE) and the Hisperica Famina (7th c. CE). In the case of the Hisperica, the comparison is somewhat artificial because the Hisperica is in verse, and likely aims at a parodic effect with its deliberately obscure vocabulary (Ó Cróinín 1995, 179). 

In the passage from Cicero, 84% of the vocabulary is in the Core; in Bede, 71%; in Gildas, 60%; and in the Hisperica Famina, 22%. Of the Non-Core vocabulary in Bede, several of the words (such as transcribō and transmittō) are compounded forms of Core vocabulary words.

The largest class of non-Core vocabulary words in Bede are Christian Latin vocabulary words like abbas (abbot), episcopus (bishop), monasterium (monastery), and rēgulāris (governed by a monastic rule). Most words in Bede’s Historia Ecclesiastica can be found in standard Latin dictionaries such as the Oxford Latin Dictionary and Lewis and Short. But certain words that appear in these dictionaries will have different, specifically Christian connotations in Bede. Most of these can be found in the Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources (“DMLBS”) and the Glossarium mediae et infimae latinitatis (“DuCange”), both of which are included on Logeion.

Bibliography: 

Ó Cróinín, Dáibh. 1995. Early Medieval Ireland, 400–1200. Longman History of Ireland. New York: Routledge.

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