Terms and Definitions: V
This page is under perpetual
construction! It was last updated April 24, 2018.
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.
VALAR: As part of his myth building for The Lord of the Rings universe, Tolkien creates two sorts of demiurge deities--the Valar and the Maiar. Both of these are lesser creation spirits who serve under the primary creator spirit, Eru or Iluvatar, in The Silmarillion. The model Tolkien uses here is akin to Neo-Platonism, in which a primary and more powerful creator fashions lesser spirits with less power, perfection, and splendor, which in turn fashion their own inferior deities beneath them, and so on, until the bulk of the universe is complete.
In Tokien's mythos, the Valar include higher spirits such as the Ainur (whom Tolkien describes in his letters as "rational spirits or minds without incarnation" and a limited number of other Valar whom Tolkien describes as "angelic immortals"--see Drout 689). The Ainur primarily communicate through dreams, visions, and ideas--perhaps being analogous to the Muses in Greek mythology. The Valar are so spiritually pure they need not be embodied in physical form, but they assist Eru in shaping Arda. In a manner akin to the Titans in Hesiod's Theogony, the embodied Valar exist in connected male/female pairs, though Tolkien has fourteen total Valar instead of twelve. In spite of their powers, the Valar are susceptible to errors of judgment--they are not omniscient or omnipotent, and they can experience repentence and regret. Below them, the Maiar act as their assistants. Tolkien implies vast numbers of Maiar exist, each one assigned to squire one of the Valar, but he provides few names for these lesser spirits in his fiction.
In literary criticism, the privileging of one key aspect of
a literary text or one particular process as the focus of literary
analysis. New Critics, for instance, valorize the text itself,
the words on the page as an independent literary artifact and
de-emphasize biographical details about the author's life. Freudian
critics valorize the unconscious mind. Textual critics valorize
the process of editing and creating a "best text"
of a literary work. Deconstructionists valorize language as
a free-floating collection of signs, etc.
VANIR: One of the two groups of deities in Old Norse legends. The Norse believed in two groups of deities who coexisted, the Vanir and the Aesir. The Vanir appear to have been associated with fertility and crops, while the Aesir appear to have been gods of war and crafts. A common speculation is that, like the twelve Titans and the twelve Olympian gods in Greco-Roman mythology, the Vanir and Aesir may be indicative of two sets of deities--one older and one younger--whose mythologies merged when two different ethnic groups settled in the same area. When the newcomers conquered the lands of older natives, they brought with them new cultic practices, and they displaced the older native religion with a new pantheon of gods. Tolkien's likewise in The Silmarillion creates two types of fictional deities, the Valar and the Maiar. His artistic decision to two type of supernatural being may be a faint or indirect echo of those older northern legends, or possibly an echo of Greco-Roman mythology.
A syllable which can be either stressed or unstressed, long or short,
depending upon the surrounding context.
A variorum edition is any published version of an author's work
that contains notes and comments by a number of scholars and
critics. The term is a shortened version of the Latin phrase
cum notis variorum ("with the notes of various people").
The New Variorum Shakespeare is possibly the best known
variorium edition in English. Variorum editions often include an extensive criticus apparatus.
"Plant-spirit"): A deity or spirit in mythology or
in animism that
represents (or is directly equivalent to) the vitality of
domestic crops and/or native vegetation. This spirit would
ritual, in sacrifice, or in mythological narratives) grow
and mature as the crops would grow and mature, but when the
crops would be harvested, or when the seasons would change
with autumn, the vegetationsdämon would either
wither in death or would be struck down and killed in the
harvest. Depending upon the mythic version, either the vegetationsdämon would
be replaced by a new spirit with the new season, or the dead
spirit would spontaneously resurrect and appear in the new
season in young and vital form again. Analogues to
this belief can
in Celtic "sacred kings," "Jack-in-the-Green" carvings, and
the mystery cults of Demeter and Bacchus in ancient Greece.
In the late nineteenth-century, German folklorists like
Wilhelm Mannhardt studied Baltic myths and used studies of
the vegetationsdämon to
explain many cross-cultural myths in which
a god dies and rises again. Later, British scholars
like Sir James Frazer expanded upon Mannhardt's ideas and
popularized them in The Golden Bough. Their
work has since been criticized as a "one-size-fits-all" approach
to myth (most recently and especially by Swiss scholars like
Walter Burkert who focus on primitive hunting rituals as
a source for myth). Likewise, the idea of a "seasonal dying
god" makes much more sense in Northern Europe (with its fall
and winter seasons) than it does in tropical locales like
South America or balmy Mediterranean regions like Greece
and Italy, where warm weather lasts year-round. In spite
of those criticisms, Mannhardt and Frazer have been profoundly
influential in mythological studies and on early twentieth-century
poets and occultists.
(1) In general literature, vehicle
means any general method by which an author, poet, or artist accomplishes her
purpose. Thus, one might say, "Swift uses the vehicle of
satire to express his ideas," or that "Darwin employs
the vehicle of clear diction to best communicate a scientific
theory." (2) In a metaphorical statement, the object of the tenor--i.e., the imagined thing to which the speaker compares the real-world object. See further discussion under metaphor.
VELAR: In linguistics, any velar sound involves
the soft palate or velum--especially when the tongue touches
against the soft palate.
The skin of a young calf used as a writing surface--the medieval
equivalent of "paper." A technical distinction is
usually made between vellum and parchment;
the latter is made from goatskin or sheepskin. Uterine vellum--the
skin of stillborn or very young calves, is characterized by
small size and particularly fine, white appearance. As Michelle
P. Brown notes in Understanding Illuminated Manuscripts,
the process for creating vellum or parchment is quite complicated:
To produce parchment or vellum, the animal skins were defleshed
in a bath of lime, stretched on a frame, and scraped with
a lunular knife while damp. they could then be treated with
pumice, whitened with a substance such as chalk, and cut to
size. Differences in preparation technique seem to have occasioned
greater diversity in appearance than did the type of skin
used. Parchment supplanted papyrus as the most popular writing
support material in the fourth century, although it was known
earlier. Parchment was itself largely replaced by paper in
the sixteenth century (with the rise of printing) but remained
in use for certain high-grade books. (95)
VENODOTIAN CODE: See Dosbarth Gwynedd.
A word that "does" the subject's action
in a sentence or shows a state of being or equation. For instance,
"He sang to her."
The word sang is the
verb. Typically verbs can appear in various tenses (like past,
present, or future), in various aspects (complete or not complete),
in different voices (such as active, passive, or aorist) and
in different moods (indicative, imperative, subjunctive, jussive,
conditional). Many languages use one form of a verb
for singular subjects and a different form for plural subjects.
IRONY: See discussion under irony,
NOUN: A noun that comes from a verb. For instance,
peregrination comes from the verb peregrinate, and the
gerund running comes from the present participle of the
verb run. Contrast this with the noun timber, which does
not come from a
PARADOX: See paradox and oxymoron.
VERBIAGE: Unnecessary words in a sentence that detract from the sentence's impact. The term is derogatory in nature, criticizing a lack of skillfull concision. See discussion under periphrasis.
MANUSCRIPT: An important manuscript of Old
English religious poems and sermons--probably written in the
late tenth-century. The name comes from Vercelli monastery in
northern Italy, where the lost manuscript was rediscovered.
This manuscript includes one of only two copies of the poem,
"The Dream of the Rood." The other surviving copy
of this poem is a set of partial excerpts from the work that
appears carved in runes on the Ruthwell Cross near Dumfries
in southern Scotland.
The sense that what one reads is "real," or at least realistic
and believable. For instance, the reader possesses a sense of
verisimilitude when reading a story in which a character cuts
his finger, and the finger bleeds. If the character's cut finger
had produced sparks of fire rather than blood, the story would
not possess verisimilitude. Note that even fantasy novels and
science fiction stories that discuss impossible events can have
verisimilitude if the reader is able to read them with suspended
disbelief. Cf. Willing
Suspension of Disbelief.
VERNACULAR (from Latin vernaculus "native,
indigenous"): The everyday or common language of a geographic
area or the native language of commoners in a country as opposed
to a prestigious dead language maintained artificially in schools
or in literary texts. Latin, for instance, has not been a vernacular
language for about 1250 years. Sanskrit has not been a vernacular
language in India for more than 2000 years. However, Latin in
medieval Europe and Sanskrit in ancient India were considered
much more suitable for art, scholarship, poetry, and religious
texts than the common tongue of everyday people even though
(or perhaps because) only a small percentage of the
learned could read the older languages.
Usually, a race or culture
writes in its native tongue during the early days of its civilization.
For instance, the Chinese Wên Li was a vernacular
language at the time of Confucius, and it would have been easily
understood by most Chinese people in that dialectical area.
Likewise, Saint Jerome translated the koine Greek of
the New Testament into the "vulgate" or common Latin
familiar to Roman citizens. As time goes by, and the early writings
take on special cultural prestige, these older writings tend
to be preserved and taught even after the original language
changes or dies out completely. Often the classical languages
are no longer understandable by common citizens--but these dead
languages would still be used in the courts, in government documents,
in poetry, and in scripture.
In the early medieval period,
only Latin writings had much prestige. The medieval church was
disturbed by attempts to translate the Bible into common languages
like English, German, Italian, or French. In England, for example,
Wycliffites and Lollards would be burnt at the stake for making
illegal translations of the Bible into "base" languages
less worthy than Saint Jerome's Latin. For this reason, little
English literature survives between 1066 and 1300. The major
literary works in Britain between 1066 and 1300 are primarily
in Latin (and to a smaller extent, French).
Dante was one of the first
major literary figures to break this stifling tradition by choosing
to write his masterpiece The Divine Comedy in vernacular
Italian rather than classical Latin. In England, he was followed
by Geoffrey Chaucer, who chose to write The Book of the
Duchess, Troilus and Creseida, The Canterbury Tales and
other early works in English. This contrasts sharply with Gower,
Froissart, Machaut, and other writers at the English court who
wrote most of their work in Latin or French. Dante, Chaucer,
and others in the fourteenth century made it acceptable to write
in the vernacular tongues rather than classical languages, and
readers of this webpage can thank them accordingly that they
aren't reading the HTML code in Latin. Cf. Black
LAW: In linguistics, a codicil or addition
to Grimm's Law that helps explain some exceptions to Grimm's
Law of the First Sound Shift. The law was proposed by Karl Verner
in 1875, and it states that early Germanic voiceless fricatives
became voiced when (1) the Indo-European stress
was not on the immediately preceding syllable, and (2)
the word appears in a voiced environment (See Algeo, pages 81-82).
Not to be confused with verse,
below, a vers is a song in Old Provencal almost indistinguishable
from the chanson, but vers is the older term.
See discussion under free
VERS DE SOCIÉTÉ:
Light verse that compliments another or touches on the manners
and morals of its time-period. The verse is often intended for
public performance, and it is typically thought to be marked
by wit, eloquence, and graceful diction. An example Deutsche points out is George Wither's lyric, which begins "Shall I, wasting in despair, / Die because a woman is fair?" and concludes, "If she thinks not well of me / What care I how fair she be?" (qtd in Deutsche 78).
There are three general meanings for verse (1) a line of metrical
writing, (2) a stanza, or (3) any composition written in meter
(i.e., poetry generally). Remember that rhyme
is not the identifying mark of poetry, but rather meter.
PARAGRAPH: A division of poetry by each section's content
in a rhetorical manner akin to prose paragraphs. Often, a typesetter or editor indicates verse paragraphs by adding an extra line-space above and below
the pertinent section to set it off from other parts of the poem. Unlike
in which the division of poetry corresponds to repeated elements
of rhyme or other poetic structure, and in which each stanza
must be identical in length and form to that of other stanzas,
verse paragraphs end and begin according to divisions of sense
and subject-matter. Thus, they are much like prose paragraphs in an
essay, in which each paragraph deals with a single topic or
idea, and a new paragraph division indicates that a new topic
or idea is to be explored. Like paragraphs in a prose essay
(and unlike stanzas), verse paragraphs can vary in length within
an individual poetic work. Milton's Paradise Lost is
an example of a poem written in verse paragraphs. Contrast with
Literally, the making of verse, the term is often used as another
name for prosody.
This refers to the technical and practical aspect of making
poems as opposed to purely theoretical and aesthetic poetic
See discussion under quarto
or examine this chart.
PERIOD: The period of British literature in the late nineteenth
century. The date of the period is often given as 1837-1901--the
years Queen Victoria ruled the expanding British Empire. Alternatively,
the date is given as 1832-1901, according to the passage of
the first labor reform bill in the 1832 English Parliament.
The Victorian Period of literature is characterized by excellent
novelists, essayists, poets, and philosophers, but only a few
The positive characteristics,
attitudes, and qualities of the Victorian Period often suggest
a belief in social progress, a conservative attitude about
mores and respectability, values of middle-class industriousness
and hard work, and a strong sense of gentlemanly honor and
virtue. The negative characteristics of the Victorian Period
include complacency, hypocrisy, smugness, and simplistic
earnestness. When applied to literature, the word Victorian
often implies humorlessness, unquestioning belief or orthodoxy
and authority in matters of politics and religion, prudishness,
and condemnation of those who defy social and moral convention.
These dual qualities originate in Britain's self-satisfaction
and economic growth during the nineteenth century. The country's
increased national wealth, its scientific and industrial advances,
the growing power of its navy, and its relentless expansion
in overseas colonies all contributed to the period's zeitgeist.
Some of the prominent British writers include Cardinal Newman,
Benjamin Disraeli, Bulwer-Lytton, Charles Darwin, Oscar Wilde,
Rudyard Kipling, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Swinburne, Samuel
Charles Dickens, Thackeray, Anthony Trollope, Charlotte Bronte,
Anne Bronte, George Eliot, Ruskin, Matthew Arnold, George
Lewis Caroll, William Morris, Wilkie Collins, Dante Gabriel
Rossetti, Christina Rossetti, Lord Acton, Samuel Butler,
Louis Stevenson. Cf. didactic
here to download a list of the major periods of literary
VIGNETTE (French, "little
short composition showing considerable skill, especially such
a composition designed with little or no plot or larger
structure. Often vignettes are descriptive or evocative in
their nature. An example would be the brief narratives appearing
Sandra Cisneros's short-stories. More loosely, vignettes might
be descriptive passages within a larger work, such as Virginia
Woolf's "Kew Gardens," or Faulkner's descriptions
of horses and landscapes in The Hamlet. The term vignette
("little vine") originally comes from a decorative
device appearing on a title page or at the beginnings and
of chapters. Conventionally, nineteenth-century printers depicted
small looping vines here loosely reminiscent of the vinework
in medieval manuscripts.
VIKING (Old Norse vikingr, "pirate,"
perhaps related to vik, a navigable creek, bay, or
inlet to the sea, or perhaps related to an Old English word
wic, meaning "encampment"): Technically,
in its most exclusive sense, a viking is a pirate, any individual
that goes i-viking ("plundering") regardless
of the buccaneer's ethnicity. Historically, Irishmen, Anglo-Saxons,
Franks, Bretons, and Slavs all joined in viking raids at various
points, and chroniclers called them all vikings during their
attacks. In its most common modern usage, the word viking
applies to the pale-skinned North Germanic tribes between the
years 550 CE and 1052 CE who inhabited the modern Scandinavian peninsula (i.e.,
Denmark, Sweden, and Norway). These tribes eventually settled
in Iceland and the Faroese islands and they conquered or raided
large portions of England, Ireland, Scotland, and Normandy.
The resulting ethnographic mixtures are often called Viking
cultures (with a capital V- to indicate the scholar
is referring to the larger race rather than pirates alone).
The Old Norse and North Germanic languages that the Viking cultures
spoke developed into modern Danish,
Icelandic, and Faroese.The
first mention of these tribes is in the writings of the Gothic
historian Jordanes (c. 550 CE), who records their location.
From archeological evidence, we know Viking forts built
at Eketorp and Ismantorp date back at least a century earlier
than Jordanes' records. Contact between the rest of Europe and
the Viking-held lands was sporadic for centuries, involving
occasional trade, small raids, or largely failed attempts to
convert the Vikings. Such examples include Willibrord's
first Christian mission sent to Scandinavia, (c. 725 CE) along
with Archbishop Ebo of Rheims' missionary trip to Denmark in
However, the Vikings ultimately
did burst onto the European stage in a shocking way when bands
of them attacked Portland (c. 789), and then followed up by
attacking the defenseless monastery of Lindisfarne (793). The
idea of armed pagans cutting down pacifist Christian monks,
looting churches, destroying illuminated bibles to claim the
gold decoration, and carting off engemmed reliquaries and other
holy paraphernalia as loot completely horrified Christian contemporaries,
who grew to fear Vikings with an almost religious dread. The
Vikings, astonished at how rich the monasteries were, and how
helpless the "foolish" Christian monks were, returned
in ever larger bands that would sail up creeks and inlets to
strike unpredictable targets far inland in Britain and Europe.
After killing defenders and burning defenses, they would frequently
enslave monks, children, and women as "thralls" to take back north with them.
A sign of European helplessness
is visible in the Viking practice of winter-seotling,
or establishing a base camp in invaded territory during the
winter rather than sailing home to Scandinavia with the ill-garnered
gains. (It's a sign of some weakness when a band of burglars
can break into a victim's house and steal her belongings; it's
a sign of much greater helplessness if the band of burglars
repeatedly decides to set up tents in the victim's living room
and to stay there rather than go to the trouble of returning
home between robberies.) In 839-840, the Viking invaders winter-seotled
in Ireland for the first time. In 842, they winter-seotled
in Francia [France]. In 850, they began winter-seotling
in England. It would be tedious to list all
the major raids, but ultimately Danish Vikings invaded and
settled permanently in Dublin and large parts of northern England.
The regions controlled by Danish Vikings in England (including
London at one point in history, but mostly focused around Northumberland
and York) became known as the Danelaw.
The Danish presence had a profound influence on English, introducing
many Old Norse vocabulary words into common English use, and
even more importantly, accelerating a long-term loss of grammatical inflections
The Viking raids
left a particularly deep imprint in medieval English literature.
"The Battle of Maldon," for instance, recounts the
historical last-stand of an aging Anglo-Saxon regional governor
and his untrained levy of troops against a Viking incursion
in 991. Archbishop Wulfstan of York eloquently captured England's
despair in his "Sermon of the Wolf to the English People,"
written in response to Svein Forkbeard's victory over the Anglo-Saxons
See also related terms under
A versatile genre
of poetry consisting of nineteen lines--five tercets and a concluding
quatrain. The form requires that whole lines be repeated in
a specific order, and that only two rhyming sounds occur in
the course of the poem. A number of English poets, including
Oscar Wilde, W. E. Henley, and W. H. Auden have experimented
with it. Here is an example of an opening stanza to one poem
by W. E. Henley:
dainty thing's the Villanelle,
Sly, musical, a jewel in rhyme.
It serves its purpose passing well.
A double-clappered silver bell,
That must be made to clink in chime,
A dainty thing's the Villanelle.
And if you wish to flute a spell,
Or ask a meeting 'neath the lime,
It serves its purpose passing well.
Probably the most famous
English villanelle is Dylan Thomas's "Do Not Go Gentle
Into That Good Night."
VINERY (also known
as vinework): Another term for filigree work in
medieval manuscripts. Scott defines this type of decoration
in the following manner: "Delicate,
conventional designs, usually in gold, on a flat coloured surface,
in overall patterns of curling vines, branches, and sprigs and/or
leaves; used as a background to miniatures and initials and
on band borders and miniature frames" (Scott 371).
(also known as vinery): Another term for filigree
work in medieval manuscripts. Scott describes this common
type of decoration in the following manner: "Delicate,
conventional designs, usually in gold, on a flat coloured surface,
in overall patterns of curling vines, branches, and sprigs and/or
leaves; used as a background to miniatures and initials and
on band borders and miniature frames" (Scott 371).
An old French term for a short poem consisting of (A)
short lines using two rhymes and (B) two opening
lines that recur intermittently. A second form of the virelay
consists of stanzas
made up of shorter and longer lines, the lines of each kind
rhyming within one stanza and with the rhymes of the shorter
lines rhyming with the longer ones of the preceding stanza.
A typical quatrain rhyming pattern for this form is abab bcbc, cdcd, dada. The form never became popular in English because of the difficulties
with the set rhyming of English words and the potential for
monotony, but Chaucer apparently wrote many virelays in his
(1) In poetry, a forward-slash mark
( / ) used in scansion
to mark the boundaries of poetic lines (i.e. line breaks) or
alternatively, they may be used to indicate the boundaries of
poetic feet. See foot,
meter, and scansion.
(2) In linguistics, the same mark surrounds a phonetic
transcription to indicate the enclosed material represents phonemes
rather than graphemes.
The Latin name for the medieval genre
of the dream vision. See dream
Visionary writing has the qualities of prophecy--perhaps it
is apocalyptic in imagery, or it may be predictive in its insights,
or it may contain a core of moral truth. Many of the Romantic
poets (especially Blake) have been labeled visionary. Note that
in its literary sense, visionary writing need not be religious
in nature, though it frequently is. Contrast with the terms
IMAGERY: Imagery that invokes colors, shapes, or things
that can be seen. See discussion under imagery.
POETRY: See concrete
(Latin, "a life," plural and genitive form, vitae):
The word vita has two common meanings in English scholarship.
First, for medievalists, a vita is a medieval literary genre,
one commonly called "a saint's life"
or a "hagiography." The saint's
life is a narrative focusing on the miraculous occurrences
associated with saints (famous holy individuals
especially martyrs and apostles). The genre
was extraordinarily popular in past centuries. Of the surviving
medieval narratives about the lives of medieval men and women,
90% are vitae. The conventions of the genre
often include (1) a dramatic conversion to
Christianity or to an eremitical/monastic life, (2)
a sequence of miracles to confound pagans or evil authority-figures,
(3) divine intervention in the plot-line, (4)
the threat or actual experience of horrible mutilation, torture,
or martyrdom, and (5) a continuation of miracles
associated with the saint's relics
after the saint's death, often accompanied by the material
incorruptability of the dead body and the supernatural gustatory
imagery of roses, a feature that might be inspired by 2nd Corinthians 2:14-16.
It is interesting to note that, to my knowledge, the vita
is one of the few literary genres in which a deus
ex machina ending is not only expected, but actually
forms a significant contribution to the common themes of
genre. See deus
ex machina, genre,
In its second, more modern
sense, a vita
or curriculum vitae is a summary of a scholar's work,
publications, teaching, and education--a sort of extended
In academic jargon, this sort of document is a "c.v."
For an example of my own curriculum vitae, click
VOCABLE: In poetry, an individual sound or individual letters considered without regard for any associated meaning, or a word in a poem considered in terms of its sound and shape on the page without any regard for its meaning (Deutsche 192).
The stock of available words (1) in a given
language or (2) for a given speaker of that language.
VOCALIZATION: In linguistics, the change from a consonant
sound to a vowel sound.
VOCATIVE: In a synthetic
or declined language, a grammatical case
used to invoke or call to another person.
WORD: A word that appears in fashionable use
or in pop culture. Often these vogue words and vogue expressions
have a short shelf life and fall from English use within
years' time. For example, the exclamation "snap!" as an interjection
of excitement among American teenagers is probably a current
vogue word, just as the phrase "big mook" was a vogue word
from the late 1920s and early 1930s.
LANGUAGE (pronounced "Vee-Oh"): A language that
tends to place the verb before the grammatical object
in a sentence.
English is a VO
language. Contrast with an OV
A verb form that expresses a wish, command, or the
speaker's will. In many languages,
an identical verb form is used for both the intentive (which
expresses intention) and the volitive. In English verbs, the
future tense is often used as a volitive future. For example,
English uses the
verb form (will) to express both the future tense
will rain tomorrow") and a future volitive or intentive
("By heaven, I
will finish the assignment tomorrow"). In the first
example, the rain itself has no volition, so the sentence
merely expresses a future event. In the second example, the
is actually expressing his desired course of action, not
necessarily making a prediction. This ambiguity can lead
to translation problems when English speakers
at writings in other languages. For instance, David P. Smith
notes in 1 Corinthians 14:15, the Greek translation is "I will pray"
and "I will sing." In Greek,
the verbs express or emphasize a desire to do these activities
in the future as opposed to an indication of future reality.
In English, the distinction is not necessarily clear, which complicates statements that might or might not be read as prophetic in the original language.
(German: "folk-wandering"): Also called the
Germanic migrations, this term refers to the mass migration
of Germanic tribes westward across Europe between 375 CE and
750 CE. This demographic movement pushed the Vandals, Ostrogoths,
and Goths into the boundaries of the Roman Empire in the fifth
century, speeding its dissolution. The same movement also pushed
the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes across the channel into Celtic
Britain, where they in turn dislocated the native Celtic population
by driving them into Cornwall, Wales
and Scotland in the
western and northern parts of Britain and even into Brittany
in northwestern France. These Anglo-Saxon
tribes formed the basis of the English people and their tongue
became known as Old
English. The late stages of the Volkerwanderung
involved northern Germanic Viking tribes from Norway, Scandinavia,
and Denmark pillaging the British isles and much of Britain.
Also called a turn, a volta is a sudden change in thought,
direction, or emotion near the conclusion of a sonnet. This
invisible volta is then followed by a couplet
(in English sonnets) or a sestet
(in Italian sonnets). Typically,
the first section of the sonnet states a premise, asks a question,
or suggests a theme. The concluding lines after the volta resolve
the problem by suggesting an answer, offering a conclusion,
or shifting the thematic concerns in a new direction.
LATIN: The uneducated Latin used in everyday speech
in the Roman Empire, as opposed to the more refined Classical
Latin used in literature and governmental address.
THE: Saint Jerome's Latin anthologized compilation
and translation of the Bible, prepared in the fourth
CE and used as the authorized version in Roman Catholic liturgical
services up until Vatican II. The term vulgate as
an adjective also refers loosely to any commonly recognized
version of a
work, so we might half-jokingly call The Riverside Chaucer
"the vulgate Chaucer," or whatnot.
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.
Anderson, Douglas. "Note on the Text" in J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings. 50th anniversary edition. Houghton Mifflin, 2004.
Baugh, A. C. and
Thomas Cable. A History of
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