Lexical Studies of
Medieval Spanish Texts

Steven N. Dworkin &
Francisco Gago-Jover

The Lexical Studies of Medieval Spanish Texts is an online bibliography listing concordances, glossaries, vocabularies and selected word studies for Spanish texts written from the 11th until the 15th century. General works, Judeo-Spanish and Aljamiado texts are granted their own category for browsing. Users may conduct searches for materials by keyword, or they may browse within particular texts or particular centuries. Within each section the order is alphabetical by editor or compiler; each entry is accompanied by a brief summary of the resource's contents and focus. In this electronic edition the editors have incorporated new material that has appeared since the last printed edition (1993) and earlier items that escaped the attention of the compilers of the previous versions.

This online version of the Lexical Studies of Medieval Spanish Texts is published under the auspices of the Hispanic Seminary of Medieval Studies and La corónica: A Journal of Medieval Hispanic Languages, Literatures & Cultures.


The Preface to the first edition (1987) of this Bibliography noted that some two hundred years after Tomás Antonio Sánchez had launched his Colección de poesías castellanas anteriores al siglo XV (1779), Hispanomedievalists still did not have at their disposal a comprehensive and reliable dictionary of Old Spanish. The few general compilations available at the time such as Julio Cejador y Frauca’s posthumous Vocabulario medieval castellano (1929), the published version of Victor R. B. Oelschlager’s dissertation, A Medieval Spanish Word List (1940), and the Tentative Dictionary of Medieval Spanish (1946), compiled by Ralph S. Boggs, Lloyd Kasten, Hayward Keniston, and Henry B. Richardson, were then all outdated in method and limited in scope.

The intervening years have witnessed a marked improvement in this situation. In 1986 Martin Alonso’s Diccionario medieval español was posthumously published in two volumes. While comprehensive in its coverage (with almost thirty thousand entries, according to the “Presentación”), this work must be used with great caution. Although a serviceable tool for the general reader who requires basic information on the semantic range of an Old Spanish lexical item, its lack of philological rigor greatly diminishes its value for linguists and textual critics. Especially troublesome is the presence of entries for non-existent items, resulting either from unsophisticated analyses or excessive uncritical reliance on early editions.

Of much greater importance and scholarly reliability are two compilations which represent the intellectual legacy of the late Lloyd Kasten (1905-99), namely the second greatly expanded edition of the Tentative Dictionary of Medieval Spanish (TDMS2), prepared in collaboration with Florian J. Cody, and the monumental three volume Diccionario de la prosa castellana del rey Alfonso X (Dicc. Alf.), prepared with his student and successor John J. Nitti.

At the time of this writing (November, 2004) the first twenty-five fascicles (a-alidalid) of Bodo Müller’s Diccionario del español medieval (DEM) had appeared. In Müller’s own words, this work “pretende recolectar el caudal léxico de Ia lengua escrita desde los primeros documentos hasta aproximadamente el año 1400.” Each entry in this alphabetically-arranged work provides a detailed semantic analysis in context (supported with numerous citations taken from reliable scholarly editions). When completed. this dictionary will constitute a veritable thesaurus of Medieval Hispano-Romance. Circumstances have recently forced the compilers of the DEM to streamline the entries in an effort to speed up production. Fewer citations are offered from texts included in the Archivo Digital de Manuscritos y Textos Españoles (ADMYTE), and all discussion of a word’s etymology has been eliminated. Discussion and analysis of Alonso’s Diccionario medieval del español and the first seven fascicles of Müller’s DEM are available in Steven N. Dworkin, “Progress in Medieval Spanish Lexicography”, Romance Philology 47 (1994), 406-425. The latest fascicles of Müller’s dictionary as well as of TDMS2 and the Dicc. Alf. are discussed in Dworkin, “Progress in Medieval Spanish Lexicography, II”, to appear in Romance Philology 57.

Activity in the field of medieval Spanish lexicography has not been limited to these ventures. A team of scholars in Salamanca under the direction of María Teresa Herrera issued in two volumes the magnificent Diccionario español de textos médicos antiguos. Her Salamanca colleague and collaborator María Nieves Sánchez has published the Diccionario español de documentos alfonsíes. The Hispanic Seminary of Medieval Studies has issued, in CD-ROM format, electronic versions (with concordances) of the texts whose lexica provide the source material for these two ventures. The preliminary version of Rafael Lapesa’s Glosario de voces íbero-románicas, based on the notarial documents used by Ramón Menéndez Pidal in the preparation of his then pioneering Orígenes del español (1926) has now appeared. For details on these items, see the relevant entries in this on-line Bibliography.

In addition, the many digitalized editions of medieval texts include concordances. Although these concordances do not provide the reader with any clue to the meaning of the words, they are invaluable to the lexicologist who wishes to know which words appear in a given text. It becomes the responsibility of the readers (be they literary critics or linguists) to determine the meaning of a given lexical item within the appropriate context. Indeed, an issue that requires further discussion among specialists in Spanish lexicography, lexicology, and in the edition of texts is the criteria employed in providing in dictionaries, vocabularies and glossaries aimed at the modern reader what are at best translation equivalents of Old Spanish words.

Despite theses advances, the linguist, editor or literary critic in search of Old Spanish lexical data must turn to the numerous glossaries, vocabularies, concordances, and word indices appended to or based on scholarly editions of medieval texts. The practice of compiling such lists goes back at least to 1575 when Argote de Molina attached to his editio princeps of don Juan Manuel’s Conde Lucanor an “Indice de antiguos vocablos antiguos que se hallan en este libro...”. This glossary offered the contemporary equivalents of 239 Old Spanish words found in the text. We have excluded here those few extant medieval lexical compliations which take Spanish as their starting point, such as the Tabla por a.b.c. included by Rabbi Mosé Arragel in the preliminary matter to his early fifteenth-century translation of the Old Testament known as the Biblia de Alba (cf. pp. 21-27 of the edition by A. Paz y Meliá and Magherita Morreale’s note “El glosario de rabí Mosé Arragel en la Biblia de Alba,” BHS 38 [1961]: 145-52), and Elio Antonio de Nebrija’s Spanish-Latin Dictionary known as the Vocabulario español-latino. We have also considered the Spanish-Italian glossary prepared by Alfonso Ulloa and appended to the 1553 edition of La Celestina published by Giolito in Venice to have been designed as a guide to aid Italian readers of a contemporary text; see Lidio Nieto Jiménez, “Los glosarios de 1553 de A. Ulloa,” RFE 71 (1991): 253-85. Nevertheless, as venerable as is this tradition, there exists no guide to these scattered lexica; the list provided by Homero Serís in his Bibliografia de la lingüística española (Bogotá, 1964, pp. 464-71), though useful, is far from complete. It is the editors’ hope that this Bibliography fills this important void.

The editorial decision to move the Lexical Studies of Medieval Spanish Texts bibliography to an on-line platform was reached after careful consideration of the enormous difficulties associated with the regular updating of a printed bibliography. In a printed platform, updates can be made only when there is a sufficiently large number of new entries that can justify either a new edition in book form or a supplement printed in a journal. Cross-referencing and indexing a new supplement with previous editions becomes an almost impossible task, and the regular publication of supplements makes the search for information a more complicated process, as the scholar needs to have access to all previously published material. An on-line platform, on the other hand, provides the solution to most of these problems as it allows the editors to regularly update the contents, even if there is only one new entry, and to cross-reference different entries and reorganize the structure of the database in a short time. The linguist, editor or literary critic also benefits from the on-line format, as he or she only needs to consult one source of information, with the added possibility of having a search engine to look up the data.


The history of this Bibliography goes back over twenty years. A preliminary version (prepared jointly by David J. Billick and Steven N. Dworkin) appeared as “An Annotated Bibliography of Glossaries, Vocabularies, Word Lists, and Concordances Based on or Appended to Medieval Spanish Texts” La corónica 13.1 (1984-85): 104-29, 13.2 (1984-85): 262-83, and 14.1 (1985-86): 131-65. The first two book-length editions, authored by Billick and Dworkin and published by the Hispanic Seminary of Medieval studies in 1987 and 1993, contained 513 and 802 entries respectively. Four years later Dworkin published a lengthy Supplement in La corónica, 26.1 (1997): 257-296. This electronic edition incorporates new material that has appeared since 1997 and earlier items that escaped the attention of the compilers of the previous versions.

The majority of the compilations included in this on-line Bibliography are alphabetically- arranged glossaries restricted to words no longer used or which display a meaning or special use unknown in the modern language. Most such glossaries are designed solely as a tool to facilitate the reading and basic comprehension of the text and only partially aid scholars who wish to view the total lexicon of a given work or who desire to trace the history of a word through the medieval period. For the most part, they provide a translation equivalent in the target language which often fails to capture the precise meaning of the Old Spanish term in the relevant context. The usefulness of such glossaries for the linguist is further vitiated when text locations are not provided. Future editors of Spanish medieval texts may do well to take into consideration the relevant suggestions and strictures concerning glossaries of Middle French voiced by Kurt Baldinger in ZRP 104 (1988): 264-89. Less frequent are vocabularies which record all words (though not necessarily every occurrence) found in a specific text or in the writings of a single author. Such vocabularies often have originated as doctoral dissertations and are based on a previously published edition of the work(s) at issue. Also included within the scope of the on-line Bibliography are concordances (although they usually do not provide definitions or discussion), word-indices to lexical commentaries scattered throughout the footnotes of a scholarly edition, as well as individual word studies designed to explain the meaning(s) of a given word in a specific text or author or in the medieval language as a whole. We have excluded here etymological studies, work in textual and literary criticism, and studies of lexical fields with reference to a given author and/or text. We have attempted to list all reviews of separately published glossaries, vocabularies, and concordances. For edition of texts, we have noted only reviews which contain substantive comments on or additions and corrections to the appended glossary or vocabulary. Unless indicated by this symbol , all items recorded here have been examined by at least one of the editors. On-line glossaries, vocabularies, and lexical studies are preceded by the symbol .

The material is presented in chronological order by centuries. In certain doubtful or controversial cases we have been forced to make arbitrary decisions regarding the placement of a text. Our decision to list the Cid epic as a twelfth-century work does not imply acceptance of the disputed 1140 dating for its composition. The archaic nature of the language has led us to include in separate sections at the end relevant lexical compilations based on sixteenth-century aljamiado texts and on Judeo-Spanish translations of the Old Testament carried out in the century following the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492. We have also gathered together in two separate sections relevant editions of fifteenth-century medical texts and libros de caballerías.

Perusal of the Table of Contents will provide the reader with a simple overview of this organization; the two possible search modes–by century and by keyword–should allow location of any work included in the Bibliography.