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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 Six: Analysis of the material


The final chapter presents a linguistic analysis of the selected Latin- and ogham-inscribed stones from Wales, and early Anglo-Saxon inscriptions from England. Firstly, the chapter establishes the reasoning behind the choice of inscriptions for the study in accordance with chronological and geographical restrictions. Secondly, the chapter presents the analysis of the core material along with a proposed conclusion concerning the linguistic and cultural dimensions of the presented texts.

1. The text corpus

The following analysis is divided into two sections. The first section presents linguistic evidence from the Welsh historical counties of Breconshire and Glamorgan. The geographical restriction can be explained by two reasons. Firstly, the chosen area is rich in evidence from the period between the fourth and twelfth centuries inscribed using both ogham and Latin scripts which constitutes a naturally-established corpus of potential texts. Secondly, the author’s fieldwork, conducted in June 2011 in Wales, corresponds to a major part of these counties and stretches from the coastline of Glamorgan into an area above the southern border of Breconshire. The text corpus chosen for the study comprises twelve stone inscriptions from Breconshire, and eleven from Glamorgan. The second argument behind the choice of the particular inscriptions is their dating, which stems from the earliest attempts at inscribing stones at the end of the fourth century and ends close to the end of the eighth century. The occasional breaching of this chronology can be attributed to the uncertainty of a dating or the intention...

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