Monasteriales indicia: the Anglo-Saxon monastic sign language
The Monasteriales Indicia is one of very few texts which let us see how life was really lived in monasteries in the early Middle Ages. Written in Old English and preserved in a manuscript of the mid-eleventh century, it consists of 127 signs used by Anglo-Saxon monks during the times when the Benedictine Rule forbade them to speak. These indicate the foods the monks ate, the clothes they wore, and the books they used in church and chapter, as well as the tools they used in their daily life, and persons they might meet both in the monastery and outside. Thus the text gives a fascinating insight into how monks dealt with the conditions of their life nearly a thousand years ago. The text is printed here with a parallel translation, to enable non-specialists to make their own informed assessment. The introduction gives a summary of the background, both historical and textual, as well as a brief look at the later evidence for monastic sign language in England. Extensive notes provide the reader with details of textual relationships, explore problems of interpretation and set out the historical implications of the text.
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abbot adune andlang Anglo-Saxon England Anglo-Saxon monastic Battle of Maldon bine hand bine wynstran binne scyte finger binum scyte fingre bonne stric bonne wege Bury lists Bury lists Jarecki Christ Church Cluny list Cluny sign continental lists David Sherlock different sign Donne drink edited English sign fist Gneuss habban wille bonne habban wylle heafod Hirsau's sign hwaet index finger Indicia sign later English lists left hand litlan finger little finger manu manuscript mean mid binre mid binum scyte mid binum twam mimes Monasteriales Indicia monastery Monastic Sign Language monasticism monks move your hand ofer bine Old English one's presumably reform Regularis Concordia right hand sete bu bine Sherlock and Zajac sign for candle sign lists simula St Benedict stric bu mid stroke swylce Syon list tacen is baet tacne take hold three fingers thumb Tiberius A.Ill translation wearde William of Hirsau wine wynstran hand