Notker Labeo (ca. 950–1022) Also known as Notker III and Notker Teutonicus (Notker the German), Notker Labeo (the lîp) was a St. Gall monk and teacher best known for his Old High German translation-commentaries of Latin classroom texts.
In a letter to Bishop Hugo of Sitten (ca. 1019–1020), Notker refers to the vernacular translation project on which he has embarked as something uncommon and revolutionary and notes that it may even shock his reader. He argues, however, that students can understand texts in their mother tongue much more easily than in Latin. Notker’s translation method adopts contemporary glossing practices (syntactical, morphological, and lexical) and develops and integrates them into a continuous Latin/German text. First Notker often rearranges the word order of the original Latin into a variant of the socalled natural order, the ordo naturalis, a current pedagogic word order that roughly corresponds to a subjectverb-object typology. He then expands on the text with additional classroom commentary—either his own or culled from other sources—by providing synonyms, supplying any implied subjects or objects, expounding rhetorical figures and etymologies, and interpreting mythological figures. Finally Notker appends his Old High German translation, which is sprinkled with further explanation in the vernacular and occasional Latin terms, a kind of mixed prose (Mischsprosa).
In his letter to the bishop, Notker also includes a list of works he had finished, thereby providing us with a fairly accurate account of his corpus: Boethius, De consolatione Philosophiae (On the Consolation of Philosophy); Martianus Capella, De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii (On the Marriage of Philology and Mercury); Boethius’s Latin versions of Aristotle’s, De categoriis (Categories) and De interpretatione (On Interpretation), and, his most popular work, the Psalter (together with the Cantica and three catechistic texts). He also refers to several of his own classroom compositions, which contain translations of technical terms and/or examples in Old High German; among these are thought to be De arte rhetorica (On the Art of Rhetoric), Computus (Calculating the Calendar), De definitione (On Definition), De musica (On Music), Partibus logicae (On the Parts of Logic), and De syllogismis (On Syllogisms). A few Latin treatises produced in the St. Gall school may also have been compiled by him: De dialectica (On Dialectics), Distributio (Logic), and The St. Gall Tractate. Other translations listed by Notker have not survived: Principia arithmetica (Arithmetic Principles, by Boethius?), De trinitate (On the Trinity, by Boethius or Remigius of Auxerre?), Gregory the Great’s Moralia in Iob (Moral Deliberations on the Book of Job), and Cato’s Distichs, Vergil’s Bucolica, and Terence’s Andria. Notker’s work did not find great resonance, and only the Psalter and several of the minor treatises are preserved outside of St. Gall.
Notker’s late-tenth-century Alemannic marks an important transition period in the history of the German language. The extant eleventh-century St. Gall copies of his texts are recorded with a fairly consistent spelling, which modern scholars have interpreted to reflect guidelines that Notker imposed on the St. Gall scribes. They include the Anlautgesetz (devoicing initial voiced stops/b d g/following a voiceless consonant and/or a pause and in compounds) and the use of the acute and circumflex accents to mark word and/or sentence stress and vowel length. Notker’s lexicon has also received considerable scholarly attention, owing to the many new words he coined to render into Old High German the highly complex Latin terminology he was translating.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Coleman, Evelyn S. “Bibliographie zu Notker III. von St. Gallen,” in Germanic Studies in Honor of Edward H. Sehrt . Coral Gables, Fl.: University of Miami Press, 1968, pp. 61–76.——. “Bibliographie zu Notker III. von St. Gallen: Zweiter Teil,” in Spectrum medii aevi . Göppingen : Kümmerle , 1983 , pp. 91–110 . De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii: Konkordanzen, Wortlisten und Abdruck des Textes nach dem Codex Sangallensis 872 , ed. Evelyn S.Firchow. Hildesheim: Olms, 1999.Ehrismann, Gustav. Geschichte der deutschen Literatur bis zum Ausgang des Mittelalters . Munich: Beck, 1932, pp. 416–458.Hellgardt, Ernst.
“Notker des Deutschen Brief an Bischof Hugo von Sitten,” in Befund und Deutung . Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1979, pp. 169–192.
——. “Notker Teutonicus: Überlegungen zum Stand der Forschung.” Beiträge zur Geschichte der deutschen Sprache und Literatur 108 (1986): 190–205 and 109 (1987): 202–221.King, James, and Petrus Tax, eds. Die Werke Notkers des Deutschen, Altdeutsche Textbibliothek . 10 vols. Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1972–1996.Notker der Deutsche. De interpretatione: Boethius’ Bearbeitung von Aristoteles’ Schrift Peri hermeneias: Konkordanzen, Wortlisten und Abdruck des Textes nach dem Codex Sangallensis 818 , ed. Evelyn S.Firchow. Berlin: de Gruyter, 1995.Notker der Deutsche von St. Gallen. Categoriae : Boethius’ Bearbeitung von Aristoteles’ Schrift Kategoriai : Konkordanzen, Wortlisten und Abdruck der Texte nach den Codices Sangallensis 818 and 825 , ed. Evelyn S.Firchow. Berlin: de Gruyter, 1996.Notker-Wortschatz , eds. Edward H.Sehrt und Wolfram K.Legner. Halle (Saale): Niemeyer, 1955. Sehrt, Edward H. Notker-Glossar . Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1962.The St. Gall Tractate: A Rhetorical Guide to Classroom Syntax , eds. and trans. Anna Grotans and David Porter. Columbia, S.C.: Camden House, 1995.Schröbler, Ingeborg. Notker III. von St. Gallen als Übersetzer und Kommentator von Boethius’ De consolatione Philosophiae . Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1953.Sonderegger, Stefan. Althochdeutsch in St. Gallen . St. Gallen: Ostschweiz, 1970.——. Althochdeutsche Sprache und Literatur , 2d ed. Berlin: de Gruyter, 1987.——. “Notker III. von St. Gallen,” in Die deutsche Literatur des Mittelalters: Verfasserlexikon , vol. 6., 2d ed. Berlin: de Gruyter, 1987, cols. 1212–1236.Tax, Petrus W. “Notker Teutonicus,” in Dictionary of the Middle Ages , vol. 9. New York: Scribner’s, 1987, pp. 188–190.
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