The MLW relies on about 4000 text sources, the larger part of them being accessible in modern editions. Some of these texts though still only exist in older prints, some may even be transmitted in handwriting only, waiting to be edited. The sources include well known texts like the Carmina Burana, some of them having gained fame through Carl Orff’s new score, the chronicle of bishop Otto of Freising, the legend of bishop Emmeram’s martyrdom (murdered in Helfendorf near Munich, authored by bishop Arbeo of Freising) or texts by Hildegard of Bingen, recently enjoying great popularity especially in esoteric circles.
You find the source reference list with all articles (except the so-called opera minora) assembled in alphabetical order in the digital MLW. In the Reference List we compiled some helpful explanations for you.
The dictionary’s base is made of 50 selected texts (cf. MLW vol. I p. VIsq., footnote 1), typed in perikopes onto stencils and then reproduced on DIN-A-6 paper. The attestations gained this way make up about 2/5 of the slip material.
The top left corner shows the lemma (headword), intentio, below the abbreviation for author and work (OTTO FRISING. gest. 1 prol. p. 9,20) with additions/corrections of the article’s editor. It is followed by the text segment (pericope), at the bottom to the left the number of words of this segment is noted, at the bottom to the right there is the serial number (= 18th slip in succession within the continuous text).
Another 2500 texts were excerpted and typed onto DIN-A-6 slips with typewriters. Pericope slips and excerpt slips together make up already 3/5 of all the material assembled.
The lemma is seen here in the top left corner again, below in the middle the abbreviation for author and work, top right corner shows the work’s date (following the excerpting it could be dated more exactly, the reason it was corrected by the article editor), followed by the exact place of the passage cited in the text with a three line quote from the Commentary of the Sentences by Albertus Magnus. On the very top the editor added one more note indicating on which page of the old Borgnet edition the passage can be found.
There are also so-called «index notes», which often lead to hundreds of additional attestations lying dormant in the editions. Altogether about two million attestations have been recorded for the MLW.
The original slip of the example above indicated only the volume of the Monumenta Germaniae Historica (MGH) pointing out, that the lemma could be found in its index. The article editor’s review came up with ten additional attestations. He wrote the semantically most noticeable ones onto the slip.
When searching for the correct meaning of a word, slips on secondary literature can be helpful. They provide a more profound access to technical terms e.g. in legal history, scholastic philosophy, botany, medicine etc.
Finally, modern electronic sources and databases complete the picture. Especially with rarely attested words, the associates are grateful for these tools able to deliver a more differentiated picture of a word’s meaning in case of scarce attestation.
The reference sources also include almost the complete collection of the Monumenta Germaniae Historica (MGH, online access via www.dmgh.de) as well as a.o. medical sources from the Salerno Medical School.
Excluded are on the other hand the Holy Scripture, the church fathers and especially exegetical works of the Middle Ages which often only reflect tracts of the church fathers of late antiquity.