Middle English Medical Texts (MEMT)

Middle English Medical Texts (MEMT) is the first of the three CEEM corpora. Representing English vernacular medicine at a time before printing (1375–1750), MEMT is unique among available English language corpora. In addition to the needs of historical linguists, MEMT is designed to provide historians of medicine easy access to otherwise inaccessible or hard to read manuscripts. MEMT was originally designed to serve as material for our project Scientific Thought-styles: The Evolution of Early English Medical Writing.

MEMT was published on CD-ROM by John Benjamins in 2005.

Time of compilation: 1995–
Status: Finished
Size: 495,322 words
Language: Middle English
Number of texts/samples: 86
Period: 1375–1500
Released: 2005




Compilers: Irma Taavitsainen (University of Helsinki), Päivi Pahta (University of Tampere), Martti Mäkinen (University of Stavanger)

Other team members: Carla Suhr, Maura Ratia, Turo Hiltunen, Alpo Honkapohja, Jukka Tyrkkö (all University of Helsinki), Minna Vihla

Student assistants: Ville Hyvönen, Nora Leskinen, Paula Korhonen

Basic information

MEMT consists primarily of editions of medical treatises from c. 1375 to c. 1500 and an appendix of texts written c. 1330. It provides a new kind of electronic resource not only for linguists, but also for philologists and historians of medicine. Being a computerized collection of historical texts, MEMT is in many ways different from present-day language corpora, but in some respects it also differs from other historical corpora that are available. In this introduction we discuss the sociohistorical background of the texts and the principles of our corpus compilation, highlighting some of the differences. We also illustrate how the use of MEMT can be combined with other historical corpora and modern research tools, present a list of studies based on MEMT, and indicate some potential future uses of the corpus.


On the MEMT CD-ROM, users will find the texts of the corpus itself and two specially designed software applications. Corpus Presenter, a Windows application, allows corpus linguistic examination of the corpus, as well as providing access to the extensive manual and text catalogue. A separate Java version of Corpus Presenter is also provided for those users who wish to access the corpus on another operating system (i.e. Mac or Linux).