18 May 2009

Medieval English

Literary critics are not the only ones to neglect multilingual texts. Here is an account of the current state of linguistic study about medieval English:

"Mainstream historical linguistics has completely neglected the analysis of mixed-language texts, i.e. of texts which show alternation and mixing of languages in various forms. ... While historical linguists are often unaware of the large number of such texts, philologists, medievalists, and literary scholars have tended to hold them in low esteem and not worthy of serious examination. These so-called ‘macaronic’ literary texts were frequently regarded as instances of artificial, sometimes highly artistic language-play or as exercises of clerics and students." (“Mixed-language texts as data and evidence in English historical linguistics,” by Herbert Schendl, in Studies in the History of the English Language: A Millennial Perspective [2002]).

"Macaronic" literary texts, as this blog has shown, have not disappeared, but have evolved into an even higher form of literature - multilingual literature.

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