Terms and Definitions: Q
This page is under perpetual
construction! It was last updated April 8, 2013.
This list is meant to assist,
not intimidate. Use it as a touchstone for important concepts
and vocabulary that we will cover during the term. Vocabulary
terms are listed alphabetically.
Q-TEXT: The term for
a hypothetical ur-text or source manuscript that served as
the source for the synoptic gospels (i.e., Matthew, Mark,
and Luke), but which did not influence John. The abbreviation
"Q" comes from German Quelle (source).
The study of arithmetic, astronomy, geometry, and music, which
formed the basis of a master's degree in medieval education,
as opposed to the trivium,
the study of grammar, logic, and rhetoric,
which in medieval education formed the basis of a bachelor's
CHANGE: In linguistics, an alteration in the perceived
quality of a sound or the basic nature of a sound. Contrast
Meter that relies on patterns of heavily stress syllables
and lightly stressed
meters. In English, most poems are qualitative in nature.
This contrasts with quantitative
meter (below), which was
common in Greek and Latin. See meter.
CHANGE: In linguistics, an alteration in the
length of a sound--particularly vowel sounds. Contrast
METER: Meter that relies not on the alternation
of heavily stressed or lightly stressed syllables,
on the alternation of "long syllables" and "short
syllables" (i.e., syllables categorized accordingly
to the time interval it takes for the human mouth to pronounce
the syllable). For instance, under this scheme, in English,
the word hour and at are both one-syllable
words of similar stress. However, the word hour takes
slightly longer to shape in the mouth than the more terse
word at. We might thus call the word hour
a "long syllable" and the word at a "short
syllable." This label contrasts with the most common
use of the terms in regular meter,
which relies upon how heavy the stress is in each syllable.
Quantitative meter has never worked well in Germanic languages
like English, but it was common in Latin, Greek, Sanskirt,
and Arabic poetry. Contrast with qualitative
Also sometimes used interchangeably with "stave,"
a quatrain is a stanza
of four lines, often rhyming in an ABAB
pattern. Three quatrains form the main body of a Shakespearean
or English sonnet along with a final couplet. See sonnet
A term from early bookmaking. When a single, large sheet is
folded once to create two leaves (four pages counting the front
and back), and then bound together, the resulting text is called
If the folio is folded in half once more, the resulting size
of page is called a quarto.
Thus, a quarto is a sheet of material folded twice, to create
four leaves, or eight pages, which results in a medium-sized
book. On a single sheet, the page visible on the right-hand
side of an open book or the "top" side of such a page is called
the recto side
(Latin for "right"), and the reverse or "bottom" side of such
a page (the page visible on the left-hand side of an open book)
is called the verso
side. Compare quarto
with bad quarto
QUAERITIS (Latin, "Whom do you seek?"):
This Latin expression comes from the Vulgate New Testament
the angel addresses the women coming to visit Christ's empty
tomb. The angel guarding the sepulchre asks, "Whom
do you seek?" When told that Christ was resurrected,
the women departed joyfully. In the medieval church,
this phrase was part
of the Roman Catholic liturgy as part of the Easter Introit
and read aloud in church each year. The earliest known text of this sort was an Easter trope from the Swiss monastery of St. Gall, probably dating to about 875-900 AD. One
theory is that the quem quaeritis trope grew into
an entire branch of medieval drama. Mary Marshall and other
scholars like E. K. Chambers (author of The Medieval
Stage, 1903) suggested that the part of the angel and
the women visiting the tomb was taken up by layfolk and performed
inside the church on Easter. The enactment was later enlarged
and moved to the area outside the church and watched by the
congregation. Eventually, the plays expanded in scope to include
other Bible stories and were performed in the vernacular
rather than Latin. These performances eventually may have evolved
plays run by guilds,
falling outside the church's control altogether. More recent
scholars such as V. A. Kolve question this theory,
however, so students should take the argument with a grain
A collection of individual leaves sewn together, usually containing
between four and twelve leaves per quire. This "gathering"
or "booklet" of individual pages would then be sewn
into the larger collection of pages to make the entire book.
written after 1400, the quires are often systematically labeled
in order to help the bookbinder place them in the correct order.
They provide important evidence for the history of specific
manuscripts. Missing pages cut out of a quire show modern scholars
evidence of ancient censorship, and the markings of the quire
can show that books have been rebound or taken apart and "recycled"
into new books.
I consulted the following works
while preparing this list. I have tried to give credit to specific sources when
feasible, but in many cases multiple reference works use the same examples or
provide the same dates for common information. Students should examine these
resources for more information than these humble webpages provide:
Abrams, M. H. A
Glossary of Literary Terms. 6th edition. Fort Worth: Harcourt
Brace College Pub., 1993. [Now superseded by later editions.]
---. "Poetic Forms
and Literary Terminology." The Norton Anthology of English Literature.
7th edition. Volume 1. New York: Norton, 2000. 2944-61. 2 Vols.
Algeo, John and Thomas Pyles.
The Origin and Development of the English Language. 5th edition.
Baugh, A. C. and Thomas
Cable. A History of the English Language. 5th edition. Englewood
Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 2002.
Brown, Michelle P. Understanding
Illuminated Manuscripts: A Guide to Technical Terms. London: The British
Library and the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1994.
Burkert, Walter. Greek Religion.
[Originally published 1977 as Griechische Religion der archaischen
und klassischen Epoche.] Trans. John Raffan. Cambridge: Harvard UP,
Catholic University of America
Editorial Staff. The New Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Corbett, Edward P. J. Classical
Rhetoric for the Modern Student. 3rd edition. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1990.
Cuddon, J. A. The
Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory. London: Penguin
Damrosch, David, gen. ed. The Longman Anthology of British Literature. 2nd Compact Edition. Volume A. New York: Pearson, 2004. 3 Vols.
Deutsch, Babette. Poetry
Handbook: A Dictionary of Terms. Fourth Edition. New York: Harper and
Row, 1974. Reprint as Barnes and Noble Edition, 1981.
Drout, Michael D. C. J.R.R. Tolkien
Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment. New York: Routledge, 2007.
Duffy, Seán. Medieval
Ireland: An Encyclopedia. New York: Routledge, 2005.
Eagleton, Terry. Literary
Theory: An Introduction. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P,
Gabel, John B. and Charles B. Wheeler. The
Bible as Literature: An Introduction. New York: Oxford U P, 1986.
Giroux, Joan. The Haiku
Form. New York: Charles E. Tuttle Company, 1974. Reprinted New York:
Barnes and Noble, 1999.
Greenblatt, Stephen. "Glossary."
The Norton Shakespeare: Tragedies. New York: Norton, 1997. 1139-43.
Guerin, Wilfred L., et
al. "Glossary." A Handbook of Critical Approaches to
Literature. 2nd ed. New York: Harper and Row, 1979. 317-29.
Harkins, Williams E. Dictionary
of Russian Literature. The New Students Outline Series. Patterson, New
Jersey: Littlefield, Adams, and Co., 1959.
Harvey, Sir Paul and Dorothy
Eagle, eds. The Oxford Companion to English Literature. 4th ed.
Oxford: Oxford UP, 1969.
Holman, C. Hugh. A
Handbook to Literature. 3rd edition. New York: The Odyssey Press,
Hopper, Vincent Foster.
Medieval Number Symbolism: Its Sources, Meaning, and Influence on Thought
and Expression. 1938. Republished Mineola, NY: Dover Publications,
Horobin, Simon. Chaucer's Language. New
York: Palgrave McMillan, 2007.
Kane, George. The Autobiographical Fallacy in Chaucer and Langland Studies. London: H. K. Lewis, 1965.
Lacy, Norris J. The New Arthurian Encyclopedia.
New York: Garland Publishing, 1996.
Lanham, Richard A. A
Handlist of Rhetorical Terms. 2nd edition. Berkeley: U of California
Marshall, Jeremy and Fred
McDonald. Questions of English. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1995.
Mawson, C. O. Sylvester
and Charles Berlitz. Dictionary of Foreign Terms. New York: Thomas
Y. Crowell Company, 2nd ed. 1975.
McManus, Damian. Ogam Stones At University
College Cork. Cork: Cork U P, 2004.
Metzger, Bruce M. and Michael D. Coogan,
eds. The Oxford Companion to the Bible. New York: Oxford U P,
O'Donoghue, Heather. Old Norse-Icelandic
Literature: A Short Introduction. Malden, MA:Blackwell Publishing, 2004.
Page, P.K. "Forward." Hologram. Brick Books, London, Ontario: 1994.
Palmer, Donald. Looking
At Philosophy: The Unbearable Heaviness of Philosophy Made Lighter. 2nd
edition. Mountain View, California: Mayfield Publishing Company, 1994.
Peck, Harry Thurston. Harper's Dictionary of Clasical Literature and Antiquities. New York: The American Book Company, 1923. 2 vols.
Perelman, Ch. and L. Olbrechts-Tyteca.
The New Rhetoric: A Treatise on Argumentation. Notre Dame, U of Notre
Dame P, 2000.
The Oxford English Dictionary.
2nd ed. 1989.
Quinn, Arthur. Figures
of Speech: 60 Ways to Turn a Phrase. Davis, California: Hermagoras P,
Rae, Gail. Guide to Literary
Terms. Staten Island, New York: Research and Educational Association,
Roberts, Edgar V. and Henry
E. Jacobs. "Glossary of Literary Terms." Literature: An Introduction
to Reading and Writing. 6th edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice
Hall, 2001. 2028-50.
Scott, Kathleen L. Later
Gothic Manuscripts, 1390-1490. A Survey of Manuscripts Illuminated in
the British Isles 6. London: Harvey Miller Publishers, 1996. 2 Vols.
Shaw, Harry. Concise
Dictionary of Literary Terms. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1976.
Shipley, Joseph T. Dictionary
of World Literature: Criticism, Forms, Technique. The Philosophical
Library. New York: Philosophical Library, 1943.
Supplement to the Oxford
English Dictionary. 1989.
Smith, David P. "Glossary of Grammar Terms." [Miscellaneous
handouts made available to students in Basic Greek at Carson-Newman College
in the Fall Term of 2006.]
Swain, Dwight V. Creating
Characters. The Elements of Fiction Writing. Cincinnati: Writer's Digest
Williams, Jerri. "Schemes
and Tropes." [Miscellaneous handouts made available to her graduate
students at West Texas A & M University in the Fall Term of 1993.]
Yasuda, Kenneth. The
Japanese Haiku: Its Essential Nature, History, and Possibilities in
English. Rutland, Vermont and Tokyo, Japan: Charles E. Tuttle Co.,
Zenkovsky, Serge A. Medieval Russia's Epics, Chronicles, and Tales. Rev Ed. New York: Meridian Books, 1974.
Zireaux. E-mail Communication. 21 June 2012.