Anglo-Norman tournaments and the thirteenth century

October 20, 2022

If there is one word that is emblematic of medieval Europe, it is certainly the verb turneier: ‘to joust, to participate in a tournament’. When we think of medieval jousting, we immediately think of the magnificent illuminations in the livre des tournois by René d’Anjou:   [image 1: René I of Anjou, Traité de la […]

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Pestilence de genz et morine de bestes: remarks on the Anglo- Norman vocabulary of plague and epidemics

March 23, 2021

In Europe’s collective unconscious at the beginning of the twenty-first century, mass epidemics were rather linked to bygone times, particularly the episodes of the Black Death that marked the end of the Middle Ages and caused millions of deaths. And yet here we are, all of us in spite of ourselves having become specialists in […]

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Linguistic Ecology: Language Change as Social Fact

July 1, 2020

A guest blogpost by Dr. Emily Reed (University of Sheffield), who visited the Anglo-Norman Dictionary project in February-March 2020 through an AHRC bursary ‘Language shift […] is a social fact with linguistic implications’ (Thomason and Kaufman 1988: 212). Language is a tool that we use to produce meaning. As such, it can only do what we […]

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The Anglo-Norman Prose ‘Brut’ Tradition

July 18, 2019

[A guest blog post by Dr. Trevor Russell Smith, who visited the Anglo-Norman Dictionary project in 2018 and 2019 through a AHRC bursary] Latin was the standard language in which one wrote historical literature in England through the fifteenth century, although chronicles, annals, histories, and poems on contemporary and past events were sometimes written in […]

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An introduction to concordances (now with added violence)

October 16, 2018

Edward Mills is a PhD student at the University of Exeter, and — like David, our previous author — was a recipient of a bursary from the AND and the Arts and Humanities Research Council to support research at the Dictionary’s offices. In this guest blog post, he offers an insight into how he spent […]

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Writing Morality in the Anglo-Norman World

October 4, 2018

Davide Battagliola, post-doctoral researcher from the University of Milan visited the Anglo-Norman Dictionary project for 4 weeks in July-August 2018 – thanks to a bursary from the AND and the AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council). During this period, he was able to continue his research in Aberyswyth, making use of the materials, resources and […]

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Announcement: Bursary for study of Anglo-Norman

October 27, 2017

The Anglo-Norman Dictionary (, an AHRC funded project held at Aberystwyth University, would like to invite expressions of interest in a post-graduate bursary fund supporting research on Anglo-Norman. Over the next four years, five bursaries, of up to £1000 each, will be available to support post-graduate students and their research on projects related to Anglo-Norman. […]

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Anglo-Norman and Sound Art

September 16, 2017

Describing the meaning and semantic range of Anglo-Norman words has always been, and still is, the primary function of the Anglo-Norman Dictionary. However, the online AND ( also provides material, tools and research possibilities for medievalists, linguists and many other disciplines. When Dr. Alan Chamberlain, Senior Fellow in the Department of Computer Science of the […]

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AND site update: Search by semantic tag

May 5, 2017

The revised semantic labeling system Already in the first published fascicle of AND1 (back in the late 1970s), the English definitions sometimes were given a semantic category label. For example, sub abatre1, the sense ‘to abate, put an end to’ was labelled ‘(law)’ and the sense ‘fir tree’ sub abiet had the label ‘(bot.)’. These bracketed items served to clarify the semantic context, identifying […]

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AND site update: interface and layout

April 6, 2017

In the new updated version of the AND site (, there are now various ways of adjusting the way an entry is displayed and, to a certain extent, to customize the dictionary’s interface. Font size. You can enlarge or reduce the font size of displayed entries using the A+ and A- buttons on the button […]

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AND site update: search options

March 29, 2017

Last week, the lay-out and presentation of the online AND [] was updated (for the first time since it was opened to the public back in 2006!), making it compatible for use on computers, tablets or handheld devices and adding new features. In the next couple of blog-posts, we will talk you through some of […]

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WoM: Welsh words in Anglo-Norman

January 30, 2017

Last month, we discussed the presence of loanwords from Irish in Anglo-Norman, and this month, we would like to look further into the linguistic contact between Anglo-Norman and Celtic languages – this time focusing on Welsh. While there has been considerable research into the influence of (Anglo-)French on the Welsh language, particularly in the literary […]

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WoM: Kerne and the Celtic languages

December 30, 2016

Over the last few months, our blog posts have focused on loan words in Anglo-Norman – from Greek, from Italian, from Mongolian … This month and the next, we are going to have a look at some Anglo-Norman words borrowed from Celtic languages. Medieval Britain was a multilingual environment, and it is clear that there […]

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WoM: Greek lexis in Anglo-Norman

November 30, 2016

The alpha, but not quite yet the omega, of Greek lexis in Anglo-Norman. As primarily a Romance language, Anglo-Norman more often than not traces the origins of its lexis back to Latin. As such, determiner comes from determinare, leun2 from leo and oreison from oratio – three entirely random but straightforward examples of how this […]

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Word of the month: Some Italianisms in the Port Books of Southampton

October 21, 2016

My previous AND blog [July 2016] on luxury fabric colours introduced the study of Anglo-Norman / Italian language contact, an area which has been largely overlooked by academics so far.[1] Tuscans, Genoese and Venetians played a crucial role in the economy of late medieval England and Italian merchants and bankers could be found in many […]

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WoM: ‘galahoth’, ‘cumant’ or ten thousand Mongolian hats

September 27, 2016

While the AND is primarily designed to give definitions for words found in medieval British literary and administrative texts, what it can also do is offer us insights into the linguistic reality of a medieval, multilingual Britain. While the tradition (and erroneous) view was that only the nobility used Anglo-Norman, while the other classes remained […]

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Word of the Month: Sky blue, peacock blue, indigo and luxury fabric colours

July 28, 2016

As part of my PhD thesis, I have been researching language contact between Anglo-Norman and dialects of medieval Italian. The AND currently only has five entries labelled as Italianisms: comyt < It. comito (‘first officer on a galley’); cotegnate < It. cotognato (‘quince jam’); fangot (sub fagot) < It. fangotto (‘a bundle of cloth); sarme […]

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Word of the Month: body-parts ‘canel’, ‘canole’, ‘eskanel’, ‘chanel’, and which is which?

June 30, 2016

Part of the current revision process of the Anglo-Norman Dictionary ( is the provision of (live) links to other relevant dictionaries for every single entry. This places all Anglo-Norman words in their wider linguistic context, mapped against their equivalents in English (Oxford English Dictionary (OED) and Middle English Dictionary (MED)), Continental French (Godefroy’s Dictionnaire de […]

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Word of the Month: Decoration

May 24, 2016

The primary focus of the present AND project involves the editing of those entries beginning with the letters N, O, P and U. In addition to this, the editors have designed and implemented a series of semantic tags, as we have mentioned in some of our previous posts. These tags have been developed to assist […]

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Word of the Month: April showers

April 18, 2016

‘Sweete April showers, Doo spring Maie flowers’[1]. From the late 16th century, Brits appear to have hoped that poor weather in the month of April would give way to sunnier days come May, though it’s likely that the sentiment was first expressed much earlier than that.[2] So synonymous is the month of April with rainy […]

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WoM: ‘Easter’ or ‘Pasche’

March 21, 2016

Before the AND starts its well-deserved Easter break, let’s have a look at the word – Easter – in its medieval context of multilingual England. While Middle English used the word ester(n for this Christian festival of the Resurrection, Anglo-Norman had the term pasche cognate with Medieval Latin’s pascha (DMLBS 2133a). There are clearly two […]

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Word of the Month: Purple

February 22, 2016

As the editors of the AND work their way towards the end of the revision of the letter ‘P’, one of the entries being rewritten is that of the colour purpre, that is, ‘purple’[1]. Defining what that means is trickier than it first appears, as is often the case with colour words. Is purple a […]

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WoM: Anglo-Norman at the inn (Manières de Langage)

January 26, 2016

– Syre, ou pensez vous chivacher anoet? – Sire, a la prochene ville, si Dieu plest. – Sire, que l’apellez la prochyin ville? – Sire, l’apellent Oxone, verement. […] – Ore, sire, ou serromes loggez quaunt nous voignomes la? – Syre, a le Molyn sur le hope en la rewe de Northyate est le meillour […]

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Christmas 2015: Anglo-Norman words overview

December 18, 2015

2015 has been a turbulent year for the Anglo-Norman Dictionary, with the unfortunate illness and extremely sad passing away of our General Editor, Prof. David Trotter, last August. Looking forward to a more positive 2016, the current AND team, Dr. Heather Pagan and Dr. Geert De Wilde, would like to wish our readers a Merry […]

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Word of the Month: Lit

November 30, 2015

The recent windy Welsh weather has certainly made staying in bed an attractive proposition this week! That got us wondering about what the Anglo-Norman Dictionary could tell us about where people slept in the Middle Ages. Beds and bedding aren’t normally things that are described in the types of sources the AND used – there’s […]

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Word of the Month: Horsemanship – The Anglo-Norman Horse (part 2)

October 30, 2015

Tristran i fet Ysod mener <1140> E par la raigne la senestre. Caerdins li chevauche a destre E vount d’envoisures plaidant; As paroles entendent tant Qu’il laissent lor chevaus turner <1145> Cele part qu’il volent aler. Cel a Caerdin se desraie E l’Ysodt contre lui s’arbroie. Ele le fiert des esperons [..] Li palefrois avant […]

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Word of the Month: Predire

September 25, 2015

Do you ever wish you had a way to see into the future, to see how events might play out? The editors at the AND would certainly love to have this ability! As evidenced by a numerous medieval writings, the desire to predict or foretell the future, or predire in Anglo-Norman, has been a longstanding […]

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David Trotter

August 26, 2015

It is with extreme sadness that we report the death of our chief editor, Professor David Trotter, after a battle with cancer. Not only is the loss to the field of historical lexicography immense, we will also greatly miss our friend and mentor. While the editors will continue their work revising the entries for P-, […]

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Word of the Month: The Anglo-Norman Horse (part 1)

July 30, 2015

A term that may be familiar to the casual Googler of ‘Anglo-Norman’ as much as to professional horse-breeders is ‘the Anglo-Norman Horse’. Historians may point out that this particular breed was one of the main saddle-horses used by the French cavalry in the second half of the nineteenth century. Sports lovers might know it as […]

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Words of the month: Parker, Paliser and Parchementer: Anglo-Norman occupational surnames

June 23, 2015

One of the other changes in the dictionary entries that users might notice, aside from the new usage tags and the addition of references to cognate words in other dictionaries, involves the content of the entries. The addition that is likely to interest a wide variety of users is that we are beginning to note […]

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Words of the Month: giggling, jigg(l)ing gigolos

May 27, 2015

The starting-point for this investigation is on the one hand the Anglo-Norman gigeler, attested only in one text, William of Waddington’s Manuel des péchez, a didactic and moralising treatise from the last quarter of the fourteenth century. The verb gigeler, “to frolic”, is generally treated in the dictionaries as a derivative of the relatively well-attested […]

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Word of the Month: Penthouse

April 28, 2015

Some Modern English words have a linguistic history that is straightforward to follow: formally, they have a transparent etymology, and semantically, they have a sense that has more or less remained the same throughout the centuries. Many words, though, take unexpected turns: some revert to very different spellings, twist their forms, and/or acquire new connotations […]

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Word of the Month: PIE!

March 18, 2015

Who doesn’t love pie? The love of meat pies, or pasties, dates back to the Middle Ages – the OED notes that the earliest use of the word pasty dates from 1296, first used as a surname. Do you think Adam Pastey was so named because he made pasties or because he loved to eat […]

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Word of the Month: Fitchews and mitching

February 24, 2015

Despite what is often thought, Anglo-Norman’s influence on English extends well beyond the domains of the court, the law, and towns, with an interesting number of modern English dialect words ultimately being traceable back to the language of the Norman invaders. Two such are fitchew (“a foumart, polecat”, Mustela putorius), which the 1896 article in […]

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Words of the month: ‘pedigree’, ‘pé de colum’ and ‘péage’

January 29, 2015

As was the case for the last two years, 2015 will see this blog continuing to highlight rare, interesting or curious words of the Anglo-Norman language, gathered in the process of revising the Anglo-Norman Dictionary. And we thought we’d start off the year with not one but three different words ‘of the month’ for January. […]

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Word of the month: fitonesse

December 16, 2014

Prophecies and divinations were very much a part of the medieval spiritual landscape and the Christmas miracle, and the coming of Christ the Messiah, was one of the most important events in Christian theology foretold in several passages of the Old Testament.[1] Prophecy, however, even if considered as the only legitimate channel for predicting the […]

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Word of the Month: Gagging, queasy and squeamish

November 17, 2014

Writing a dictionary is a never-ending process. As editors we are constantly moving forward through the dictionary, revising the original entries and adding new ones, currently for the letters P and Q. However, new research, new editions and new perspectives can cause us to return to earlier, completed entries and rethink them. As last month’s […]

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Word of the Month: Anglo-Norman chess terminology (and how to find it)

October 23, 2014

As an online resource, the AND is constantly evolving. Not only are we in the process of producing a much-expanded new edition of the dictionary itself ( headwords starting with P/Q are our current focus), we also continue to expand the already revised A-O section, adding citations, senses and even entries whenever we come across […]

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Word of the month: Nice! An Anglo-Norman insult

September 15, 2014

English speakers may be surprised to learn that the etymology of nice is not very nice at all and that its semantic development is unparalleled in the Romance languages. This word, which style guides recommend that you avoid as it both ubiquitous and nearly devoid of all meaning, has a most complicated semantic evolution. The […]

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Word of the month: ‘Outremer’

August 22, 2014

Outre-mer (see TLF) is a French term that can be used to refer to faraway countries, be it in Africa, the Orient or America. It is a direct translation of the Latin ultra mare, literally ‘across the sea’, which in its adjectival form ultramarinus (cf. DMLBS 3545a), also produced the English word ultramarine: the blue […]

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Word of the month: ‘ombre’ and a botanical mystery!

July 21, 2014

A new word of the month to announce that the entries for O/U are now revised and online! To celebrate being finished, here’s an account of one word that was a bit problematic. One of the advantages of moving to an entirely online platform for our dictionary is the ability to return to earlier entries […]

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Word of the month: ‘herds’, ‘bevies’ and ‘sounders’

June 25, 2014

(This ‘word of the month’ is written by Maud Becker, Ph.D. student and part of the Anglo-Norman Dictionary Project) Hunting was one of the favourite pastimes of the medieval nobility, and this is reflected in the great number of treatises written, both in Latin and in the vernacular, about hunting in general, and, more specifically, […]

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Word of the month: quyne, the ‘evil monkey’?

May 30, 2014

In the first edition of the AND we find the entry quyn (currently also online, until work on the second edition of Q- is completed, sometime in 2015). The word is defined as ‘(term of abuse) monkey’ and is illustrated by a single attestation from Nicholas Bozon’s Life of Saint Margaret: ‘Ceo ke avint de […]

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Word of the Month: ‘ongler’

April 28, 2014

At first glance, the entry for ongler seemed to be straightforward. As the verbal form of the noun ungle ‘(finger)-nail’, it is attested in Continental French with the sense of ‘to scratch’. Godefroy has one attestation of the infinitive in a glossary from 1660 (5,603) and a number of examples of the use of the […]

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Word of the Month: Locusts and lobsters

March 13, 2014

For the modern reader, the words ‘locust’ and ‘lobster’ refer to two very different species of the animal kingdom and at first glance they do not seem to have much in common. ‘Locust’ (the modern English word for an insect associated with migrating hordes that ravage whole areas of countryside, especially in Africa and Asia, […]

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Word of the month: lunages, lunetus and lunatics

February 10, 2014

In an Anglo-Norman prose lapidary from the second half of the thirteenth century – a study of the medical ‘powers’ of different stones and minerals, claiming to derive its knowledge from a letter which the mysterious Arabian king Evax wrote to Emperor Tiberius – we find the following recommendation: “La rousse [celidoine] est bone a […]

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Word of the Month: Anglo-Norman Sweetmeats

December 18, 2013

At this time of year, our thoughts turn to Christmas foods – particularly to sweets and confections. A search of the use of the term ‘sweetmeat’ in the AND2 (one can search the translations or glosses in the dictionary from the homepage) shows that an international array of sugary goods was available in medieval England. […]

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Words of the Month: Noef! Novel!

November 26, 2013

It may be a little early for Noel, but already offer you a present in the shape of a novel version of the dictionary: we have proceeded not only with the online publication of the second edition of the letter N – from naal to nuus – but also with the introduction of some entirely […]

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Word of the Month: ‘Organe’

October 7, 2013

Pending online publication of the second edition of ‘N’, AND revision work continues with the editorial team currently gathering information, citations and references for the letter ‘O’. To offer a glimpse of the process: it has already become apparent that while AND#1 only had one entry for organe, AND#2 (the second, online edition) will have […]

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Word of the month: havegooday

July 12, 2013

While gathering information for the revision of the AND, one of the sources available to the editorial team is the collection of ‘gleanings’ previously made by contributors. Certain texts were read completely and any number of noteworthy words, phrases or citations were set aside – in earlier days handwritten on slips or on typed lists, […]

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Call for Anglo-Norman papers

July 8, 2013

Call for Papers: Anglo-Norman Texts, Language and Contexts The Anglo-Norman Dictionary ( is interested in sponsoring a session or series of sessions at the Leeds International Medieval Congress 2014 (see devoted to new research on Anglo-Norman texts and their contexts. We will present papers on the subject, but are looking for further contributors. We are particularly […]

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Word of the Month: The Monoceros and the Unicorn

May 20, 2013

The Anglo-Norman unicorn is a strange beast. And not only because it never existed. Whereas continental French has both unicorne and the altered form licorne (regarded by FEW 14,42b, and Hope, Lexical Borrowing, 42-43, as deriving from Italian, as a reduction of lunicorno where one syllable is lost, so l(un)icorno became licorno). English has only […]

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Word of the month: nuncheon

April 24, 2013

It is mid-afternoon and the editorial team of the Anglo-Norman Dictionary is producing XML files of the latest batch of new entries for N-. They have been sitting in front of their computers and processing the data for about six hours now, and their typing fingers are noticeably slowing down. It is still too early […]

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Word of the Month: The Croes Naid

February 21, 2013

While the work of revising the dictionary often results in new citations added to articles, or to new definitions added to existing entries, adding a new word to the dictionary is always very exciting. Sometimes, in the process, we also manage to solve some editorial ‘mysteries’. In the recent edition of the Prose Brut to […]

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Word of the month: ‘nick’, nock’ and ‘notch’

February 4, 2013

In the first edition of the Anglo-Norman Dictionary (1985, for the M-O/U fascicle), the entry for noche is rather minimalistic: the definition provided is simply ‘notch’, which, obviously, is nothing more than the same word in Modern English. (The -tch spelling is merely an English equivalent for French -ch, as is also found in, for […]

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Ph.D. Studentship

January 11, 2013

Here’s another opportunity to work with/for the Anglo-Norman Dictionary: Ph.D. Studentship Aberystwyth University: Department of European Languages, Anglo-Norman Dictionary Project Following the award in July 2012 of a (further) AHRC grant to support the Anglo-Norman Dictionary project, under way since 2001 (, Aberystwyth University is funding a Ph.D. studentship in association with the AND. The […]

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Word of the month: ‘Alphabet’ or ‘ABC’?

December 5, 2012

The word alphabetum, which is well attested in classical Latin, is found in British medieval Latin from the sixth century and again in Bede (DMLBS 1,69b). It appears, however, that the vernacular languages in use in England in the Middle Ages (English and Anglo-Norman) did not incorporate it, but prefered either ABC, or words derived […]

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