Textual manifestations workshop (University of Bristol, 15th July 2019)

The third workshop of the network, focusing on the textual manifestations of multilingualism, took place at the University of Bristol on Monday 15th of July 2019. It brought together a group of international academics working on a wide range of areas, all of them extremely important to understand the effects of medieval multilingualism on the page. These areas included historical lexicology and lexicography; code-switching; English, (Anglo-)French, Scots and Welsh literature; palaeography; and cultural studies (historical pedagogical practices, archival work, etc.).

Our discussions centred around the following topics:

  1. When thinking about medieval multilingualism, we need to consider the difficulties involved in separating the various codes in use, as well as the effects that their contact had on the lexis of medieval English, in terms of the stratification of the vocabulary, processes of semantic shift, the development of different registers, etc.

 

  1. It is important not to assume that one can take a single approach to the study of code-switching in medieval times, for (as noted above) in some contexts it is very difficult to establish distinctions between the various codes involved, but in others this distinction is clearer. It is also fundamental to consider code-switching in relation to various levels of analysis, including letter forms, individual words, sentences, whole texts, etc. We need to understand the different ways in which various languages interacted on the same page.

 

  1. Because language and culture are closely linked, we need to gain a better understanding of the process of cultural adaptation that went hand in hand with the translation of medieval texts into other languages, and their geographical circulation and transmission.

 

  1. It is extremely difficult to agree on the best way to edit multilingual texts, as different audiences have very different (and, at times, incompatible) needs.

If you are interested in any of these topics and would like to know more about our discussions and our work, please get in touch: memc@cardiff.ac.uk.

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University of Bristol from Cabot Tower (Adrian Pingstone, Public Domain)

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