Investigating language change using Anglo-Norman spoken and written register data

Ingham, R. (2016) Investigating language change using Anglo-Norman spoken and written register data. Linguistics, 54 (2). pp. 381-410. ISSN 00243949 (ISSN)

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Abstract

Language change is generally considered to originate in the spoken mode before spreading to the written mode, although the latter provides all our available data for language change until recent times. While written mode representations of speech, such as fictional dialogue, can be used, their authenticity is hard to verify. This study addresses these issues by comparing the language of the Year Books, texts which attest to oral pleading in medieval courts, and include very extensive dialogue, with legal register written-mode origin texts, in the Parliament Rolls of Medieval England. Both sets of texts were written in Anglo-Norman, arose within a fairly homogenous speech community, and cover the same time period - late thirteenth century until c. 1350. It is shown that changes known to have occurred in later medieval French are instantiated at this time in the dialogic texts, but to a lesser degree or not at all in the written register texts. Features of morphology, lexical semantic extension, and discourse syntax in these sources indicate in each case that the innovation arose and spread first in the spoken origin source. Support from diachronic change is thus offered for a continuity assumption for the primacy of the spoken mode in present and past states of language. © 2016 by De Gruyter Mouton.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Anglo-Norman, change, Old French, orality, register
Subjects: Q100 Linguistics
Q300 English studies
Q400 Ancient Language studies
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Design and Media > School of English
UoA Collections > UoA29: English Language and Literature
Depositing User: Miss Jessica Baylis
Date Deposited: 08 Nov 2016 15:41
Last Modified: 12 Apr 2017 11:06
URI: http://www.open-access.bcu.ac.uk/id/eprint/504

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