Hijr mede vorplichte ik mi nicht vt de liberye enwech to nemen / doer schriverye to besmetten / vterliken to vorderven ofte in ienigher ander manere to quessen ichtes een boek / breef ofte ienigh ander ding dat daer to behoert ofte waer mede et beschermet si / ik vorplichte mi oek nicht in de liberye to dragen ofte daer innen to vntsteken ienigh vuer ofte lichte / vnde nicht in de liberye den rook van schedeliken kruden doer den mund to teen und wedder doer de nesen in de lucht to blasen / vnde ik ghelove ghehoersam to wesen an alle regulen van de liberye. (Friedel Helga Roolf, second draft translation, 5 May 2016)

This post is only indirectly related to Medingen Manuscripts: Whenever I want to show colleagues the three Medingen manuscripts held by the Bodleian, they have to swear a solemn oath not to make any mischief in the library, particularly not to kindle any fire (Library Admissions Website). There always was some choice as the library had the original Latin declaration (with as of the 20th century also a female version as choice) but recently, the number of language versions available has multiplied, thanks to the efforts of one admissions officer, Helen Wilton-Godberfforde. She actively encourages visitors to employ their specialist language skills, leading to versions not only in standard High German but also Swiss dialect, ‘Honoratiorenschwäbisch’ and other variants.

A conspicuous lack so far were versions in Northern German dialects – and also in historic forms of German. After posting her request, I immediately got a reaction from Friedel Helga Roolfs, linguistic advisor to the Landesverband Westfalen-Lippe and distinguished scholar of Middle Low German literature, doing an exercise in Middle Low German prose. Her first draft came in via twitter (see image below), her second draft, posted above, came via email. I like especially how she deals with describing smoking in the language of a time before cigarettes came to Europe!

Tea towel from the Bodleian Shop with Library Declaration

Libraries Curators Regulations 1 of 2014


… 4. All readers are deemed to have subscribed to, and must adhere to, the Bodleian Library declaration. The declaration reads: “I hereby undertake not to remove from the Library, or to mark, deface, or injure in any way, any volume, document, or other object belonging to it or in its custody; not to bring into the Library or kindle therein any fire or flame, and not to smoke in the Library; and I promise to obey all rules of the Library.”

The Bodleian Declaration in Middle Low German

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