TIMESS: Towards an Inventory of Middle English Spelling Systems

Dr Rhona Alcorn, the Deputy Director of the AMC, has been granted British Academy / Leverhulme funding to develop a pilot project “Towards an Inventory of Middle English Spelling Systems” (TIMESS) on the basis of the Linguistic Atlas of Early Middle English (LAEME). The aim of the pilot is to prepare the ground for a large-scale research programme which will address Middle English spelling variation (c.1150-c.1350) in a systematic manner, using the grapho-phonological parsing methodology (GP) developed for the FITS project at the AMC. Using this method in our analysis of Older Scots, we establish relationships between units of spelling and their sound values in a phonotactic and morphological context, and we are able to produce a GP profile for every text. TIMESS will adapt this approach and its tools to Middle English data, so that the spelling system of each Middle English text in LAEME can be systematically captured, contrasted and compared with spelling systems of other texts. The LAEME metadata will allow for bringing in the diachronic and regional dimension to the analyses.

TIMESS will be undertaken in collaboration with Vasilis Karaiskos of the School of Informatics, and is expected to run in two phases in 2017 and 2018.