Workshop on the Old English Glosses to the Lindisfarne Gospels

Call for Papers | May 26-27, 2017 | Arizona State University

The Gospels are contained in an illuminated manuscript that was produced around 700 in a monastery at Lindisfarne. It contains the text in Latin with Old English glosses added above the Latin around 950. Arizona State University has recently acquired a facsimile of the Lindisfarne Gospels and would like to celebrate that with a workshop on the linguistic aspects of the Old English glosses.

The Lindisfarne Glosses are very important to our understanding of Old English morphology and syntax. They reveal special insights, e.g. the absence of third person null subjects (Berndt 1956; van Gelderen 2000), the early loss of verbal inflection, and the (early) use of multiple negatives (Nagucka 1997). The role of Latin is undeniable, in e.g. the word order, the use of reflexives and other pronouns, but the Northumbrian grammar of the Glosses shines through. Currently, the influence of Old Norse on the development of Middle English pronouns and inflection is debated again and the Lindisfarne Glosses are crucial in this debate (Moore & Marckwardt 1951: 95; Cole 2014ab) as is the extent of Scandinavian loanwords (Pons-Sanz 2013).

The year 2012 saw a workshop on the Glosses at the University of Westminster that focused on the language as well as on the author and glossing practices (Fernández Cuesta & Pons-Sanz 2016). The current workshop aims to focus on the language and on what it reveals about external influences.

Abstracts on linguistic aspects of the glosses are invited with a deadline of 15 January 2017, to be sent to Prof. Elly van Gelderen.


  • Berndt, Rolf 1956. Form und Funktion des Verbums im nördlichen Spätaltenglischen. Halle: Max Niemeyer.
  • Cole, Michelle 2014a. Where did THEY come from? A native origin for THEY, THEIR, THEM. ICEHL talk.
  • Cole, Marcelle 2014b. Old Northumbrian Verbal Morphosyntax and the (Northern) Subject Rule. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • Fernández Cuesta, Julia & Sara Pons-Sanz (eds) 2016. The Old English Gloss to the Lindisfarne Gospels: Language, Author and Context. De Gruyter Mouton.
  • Gelderen, Elly van 2000. A History of English Reflexive Pronouns. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • Moore, S. & A. H. Marckwardt. 1951. Historical Outlines of English Sounds and Inflections. Ann Arbor: George Wahr.
  • Nagucka, Ruth 1997 Glossal translation in the Lindisfarne Gospel according to Saint Matthew. Studia Anglica Posnaniensia 179+. Literature Resource Center.
  • Pons-Sanz, Sara 2013. The Lexical Effects of Anglo-Scandinavian Linguistic Contact on Old English. Turnhout: Brepols.