Specimen Lexici Runici
Magnús Ólafsson í Laufási
Specimen Lexici Runici and Glossarium Priscæ Linguæ Danicæ
Edited by Anthony Faulkes and Gunnlaugur Ingólfsson
Orðfræðirit fyrri alda V
Stofnun Árna Magnússonar í íslenskum fræðum and Viking Society for Northern Research 2010
ISBN 978-9979-654-08-7 (Iceland)
ISBN 987-0-903521-80-2 (UK)
Specimen Lexici Runici was the first dictionary of Old Icelandic. It was compiled in the early 17th century by the Icelandic clergyman Magnús Ólafsson and printed in Denmark in 1650. The dictionary contains over a thousand entries. The majority include illustrative quotations from Old Icelandic sagas and other kinds of writing, including many poems, none of which were printed until after Magnús’s time. The head words were transcribed into runes, as it was believed at the time that in the Middle Ages Icelandic books had been written in runes.
The edition offers scanned images of the pages of the printed work with a transcription of the only surviving manuscript (not an autograph) parallel. The introduction contains a short biography of the author and the history of the work, which was revised for publication after the author’s death. It also gives a summary of the sources of the quotations. There are extensive notes to each dictionary entry, which identify the source of each quotation (where possible) and attempt to identify the version, or even the actual manuscript, used by the compiler for his quotations from each work. Where an entry lists a word or words without any illustrative quotation, the note mentions chief occurrences of these words in texts from the time of the compiler or earlier (if any). There is a word list containing all the words included in the book as examples of Icelandic usage, with references to the pages of the book (or folio nos of the manuscript) where each word is to be found.
The dictionary throws valuable light on the history of Icelandic words and the knowledge of and attitudes to Old Icelandic literature in the Renaissance period in Iceland and Denmark. In some cases it preserves readings and vocabulary from Old Icelandic manuscripts which have since been lost.