Edinburgh Research Explorer

Old and Middle English spellings for OE hw-, with special reference to the ‘qu-’ type: In celebration of LAEME, (e)LALME, LAOS and CoNE

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHistorical Dialectology in the Digital Age
EditorsRhona Alcorn, Joanna Kopaczyk, Bettelou Los, Benjamin Molineaux
Place of PublicationEdinburgh
PublisherEdinburgh University Press
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781474430562, 9781474430555
ISBN (Print)9781474430531
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2019
EventFirst AMC Symposium hosted by The Angus McIntosh Centre for Historical Linguistics - Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: 9 Jun 201610 Jun 2016


ConferenceFirst AMC Symposium hosted by The Angus McIntosh Centre for Historical Linguistics
CountryUnited Kingdom


There is a wide array of spellings attested from OE through ME and into Older Scots for the initial ‘OE hw-’ cluster in words such as WHEN, WHERE, WHAT, WHO, WHICH. We have isolated 57 different spellings from the earliest attested Old English to ca 1500. They have been gleaned from searches of the DOE Web Corpus, LAEME, eLALME (supplemented by MED) and LAOS. We present:(a) a taxonomy of the 57 spellings, showing what changes (whether phonological or orthographic) are likely to have been involved in creating the shape of each variant. Of the 57 variants 14 begin with ‘q’. Our account of these spellings follows that of Lass & Laing forthcoming and assumes that those of the ‘qu-’ type (without additional ‘h’) represent [kw];(b) a diachronic account of the complex and interchanging patterns of lenition and fortition, including reversals, involved in the history of OE hw- at this period;(c) an excursus on the ‘q’ forms with reference to:(i) geographical distributions (LAEME, eLALME, and cf. Kristensson 1967 and 1995; McIntosh 1969 and Benskin 1989),(ii) alliterative evidence (cf Oakden 1930; McLaughlin 1963; Minkova 2003 and 2004),(iii) the related lenition of original [kw] in e.g. [(h)wik] for ‘quick’ (cf SED and Laker 2002);(d) a CoNE-style etymology of OE hw- showing the changes as listed in CoNE’s Corpus of Changes.This paper celebrates Angus McIntosh’s scholarly legacy, in particular as a medieval dialectologist. We illustrate how the four main electronic resources, in the tradition of LALME, and hosted by AMC, can be used in harness in an integrated scholarly argument.

    Research areas

  • hw-, 'q-' spellings, Middle English, LAEME, eLALME, LAOS, CoNE, fortition, lenition


First AMC Symposium hosted by The Angus McIntosh Centre for Historical Linguistics


Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Event: Conference

ID: 79666529