ye bisshop baythes hȳ ȝet wt bale at his hert 257 yag̅h̅ mē menskid hī so how hit myȝt worthe 258 yt his clothes wer so clene in cloutes me thynkes 259 hom burde haue rotid & bene rent ī ratt long sythen 260 yi body may be enbawmyd hit bashis me noght 261 yt hit thar ryne ne ro ute ne no ronke wormes 262 bot yi colour ne yi clothe I know ī no wise 263 how hit myȝt lye by mōnes lor & last so longe 264
This is a Middle English alliterative poem written about 1390 by an unknown author; manuscript copy dated 1477, British Library MS Harley 2250. From J.A. Burrow and Thorlac Turville-Petre, A Book of Middle English, Blackwell Publishers, Oxford (1992).
The passage above is encoded in UTF-8 with minimal HTML markup. The manuscript includes liberal use of overlining, mostly to denote vowels followed by "m" or "n"; for example "mē" means "men". The overline is represented here by U+0304 Combining Macron, since HTML does not have a font style element for overlining as it does for underlining (<u>..</u>). The intention of the line over "gh" in line 258 is unclear, but in this case we code it with U+0305 Combining Overline (rather than Combining Macron) after "g" and after "h", because adjacent macrons do not necessarily join together. However, we don't use Combining Overline over single letters because it's too wide. If your browser does not handle the Latin letter + Combining Macron (or Overline) combination, the overline appears right of the letter with a dotted circle underneath or, if the character is not even in your browser's font, as an "unknown character" symbol. (See Notes below about future developments.)
Underlining (accomplished here by markup) is used by the copyist to identify material that is questionable and/or glossed in the margins. Also note the crossed-out letter "u" of "route" in line 262 ("<strike>u</strike>"), indicating a correction by the copyist.
The letter "ȝ" (yogh) represents "y" at the beginning of a word or between vowels ("ȝet", yet; "yȝe", eye; "faȝerest", fairest), sometimes "w" between vowels ("oȝen", own; "ȝoȝelinge", yowling), "gh" (German ich Laut) at the end of a word or before another consonant ("roȝ", rough; "myȝt", might), and in Old English "g" ("wiȝa", man; "fuȝel", bird).