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Ethnolinguistics, Cultural Change and Early Scripts from England and Wales


Jacek Mianowski

The study presents a chronotope of linguistic and cultural changes that took place in England and Wales between the 4th and 8th centuries. It encompasses the areas of South Wales and Eastern England and describes the cultural practices of preliterate Anglo-Saxon and Celtic speech communities and their adaptation of runic, ogham and Latin scripts.

The study is based on the concepts of anthropological linguistics, ethnography of communication and discourse analysis. It incorporates 23 selected ogham- and Latin-inscribed stones from Wales, and 10 rune-inscribed everyday objects from England. The presented inscriptions were designed as text occurrences with well-planned, graphical content distribution, intentionally placed in the public space to increase the range of their potential audience.

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Chapter Three: Antique-Medieval Transition as a Cultural Process


This chapter seeks to draw an image of the Early Middle Ages as a vital element of the orality-literacy puzzle in the context of selected areas of the British Isles. To accomplish this, one should bear in mind that limiting the perspective to presenting a chronology or narrowing the scope of study to England and Wales may prove to be counterproductive. Instead, the proposed concepts aim at providing an overview of the period that began at the point of overlap of the Roman and Medieval civilisations. While bearing in mind the complexity of the topic to hand, the chapter tries to address three notions.

First and foremost, the chapter seeks to distinguish the antique-medieval transitory period as a cultural process, involving a vast array of changes in terms of politics, religion, social organisation and economy. At the same time the chapter aims to underline the strong connections between the events that took place in continental Europe and those occurring in two specific areas of the British Isles. The second goal of the chapter is to draw an outline of a cultural-linguistic framework on the basis of historical facts in order to provide a setting for the later research. The perspective presented hereinafter may prove crucial when seeking to distinguish the mechanisms behind the oral-literate transition in England and Wales, and to pinpoint the most probable places of its origin. Finally, the framework itself ought to consist of a set of stable yet flexible concepts that can...

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