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The Beginnings of Standardization

Schaefer, Ursula (ed.)

The Beginnings of Standardization

Language and Culture in Fourteenth-Century England

Series: Studies in English Medieval Language and Literature - Volume 15

Year of Publication: 2006

Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2006. 200 pp., num. tables and graphs
ISBN 978-3-631-55106-6 pb.  (Softcover)

Weight: 0.290 kg, 0.639 lbs

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Book synopsis

Developing a written standard is one of the most fundamental institutional achievements of a society. On the threshold to the Modern Era the vernaculars massively gained ground in writing throughout Western Europe. They soon underwent regularization and eventually standardization. In England, however, the situation was quite different from that of the continent: well into the 14th century the literate space was filled mainly by Latin and French. For a long time Chaucer has been regarded as having brought about the ‘victory’ of English. But recent research calls for a broader perspective including the work of linguists as well as literary and cultural historians. Such a new perspective helps to assess that English was not reestablished by a poet hero and standardized by a king. Instead we need to consider that various forces were at work.


Contents: Ursula Schaefer: The Beginnings of Standardization: The Communicative Space in Fourteenth-Century England – Derek Pearsall: Before-Chaucer Evidences of an English Literary Vernacular with a Standardizing Tendency – Alastair Minnis: Standardizing Lay Culture: Secularity in French and English Literature of the Fourteenth Century – Julia Boffey: Forms of Standardization in Terms for Middle English Lyrics in the Fourteenth Century – David Trotter: Language Contact, Multilingualism, and the Evidence Problem – Annette Kehnel: Poets, Preachers and Friars Revisited: Fourteenth-Century Multilingual Franciscan Manuscripts – Terttu Nevalainen: Fourteenth-Century English in a Diachronic Perspective – Matti Rissanen: On the Development of Borrowed Connectives in Fourteenth-Century English: Evidence from Corpora – Donka Minkova: Randomness or Design in the Formation of a Standardized Phonemic Inventory – Robert P. Stockwell: The Status of Late Middle English Spellings as Early Evidence of the English Vowel Shift – Andrew James Johnston/Claudia Lange: The Beginnings of Standardization - An Epilogue.

About the author(s)/editor(s)

The Editor: Ursula Schaefer is Professor of English Linguistics at the Technische Universität Dresden. Her main publications are on medieval English literature and on questions of the transition from orality to literacy. At present she is leading the research project Institutionalization of the Vernacular: Textualization and Standardization of Late Medieval English within the Dresden Sonderforschungsbereich 537 – Institutionalität und Geschichtlichkeit (‘Institutionality and Historicity’) sponsored by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG).


Studies in English Medieval Language and Literature. Vol. 15
Edited by Jacek Fisiak