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The transmission of alliterative poetry: scribal practice in the A text of William Langland's Piers Plowman


Studer-Joho, Nicole (2012). The transmission of alliterative poetry: scribal practice in the A text of William Langland's Piers Plowman. Neuphilologische Mitteilungen, 113(1):85-104.

Abstract

The extant manuscripts of William Langland’s Piers Plowman are rich in scribal variation, with the scribes even going as far as to change words in alliterating position. This paper analyzes the variants collected in the critical apparatus of Kane’s (1988) edition of the A text in order to find out how frequently the scribes reduced alliteration in a line. It seems that some variants were introduced at such an early stage that they were passed down in the text tradition. Moreover, while it is certainly not possible to tell why exactly a scribe introduced a certain variant, there are certain patterns among the non-alliterating variants. I will, therefore, also address possible reasons for the introduction of variants that reduce alliteration, such as mechanical errors, substitutions for difficult words or semantically related words.

Abstract

The extant manuscripts of William Langland’s Piers Plowman are rich in scribal variation, with the scribes even going as far as to change words in alliterating position. This paper analyzes the variants collected in the critical apparatus of Kane’s (1988) edition of the A text in order to find out how frequently the scribes reduced alliteration in a line. It seems that some variants were introduced at such an early stage that they were passed down in the text tradition. Moreover, while it is certainly not possible to tell why exactly a scribe introduced a certain variant, there are certain patterns among the non-alliterating variants. I will, therefore, also address possible reasons for the introduction of variants that reduce alliteration, such as mechanical errors, substitutions for difficult words or semantically related words.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > English Department
Dewey Decimal Classification:820 English & Old English literatures
Language:English
Date:2012
Deposited On:14 Jan 2013 09:40
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 16:14
Publisher:Uusfilologinen Yhdistys
ISSN:0028-3754

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