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Germanic names, vernacular sounds, and Latin spellings in early Anglo-Saxon and Alemannic charters


Seiler, Annina (2020). Germanic names, vernacular sounds, and Latin spellings in early Anglo-Saxon and Alemannic charters. In: Gallagher, Robert; Roberts, Edward; Tinti, Francesca. The Languages of Early Medieval Charters : Latin, Germanic Vernaculars, and the Written Word. Leiden: Brill, 117-153.

Abstract

This chapter focuses on the graphemic representation of names in early single-sheet charters from Anglo-Saxon England and from the abbey of St Gall. Personal and place-names in Latin charters are among the earliest written evidence for Old English and Old High German. Given their ambiguous lexico-semantic status, scribes could choose whether to treat names as vernacular items or as part of the Latin (con)text. This is reflected in the spellings which they use for the representation of specifically Germanic sounds as well as in their choice of inflectional endings. An analysis of the distribution of these features shows that there is a strong correlation between spellings/endings and different sections of the charters: Latinized spellings and case endings dominate in the dispositive section of charters, whereas more vernacular forms are used in the witness list and, for the St Gall charters, in the charter drafts. A second factor that influences the written representation of names is the social status of the people involved: the names of important people, such as kings, counts or bishops, are more often Latinized than those of more ordinary witnesses. Moreover, the type of name also plays a role as place-names generally display a higher degree of vernacular features than personal names. Thus, the graphemic variation attested in these charters turns out to be highly functional and is indicative of different communicative purposes attached to separate sections of the charters.

Abstract

This chapter focuses on the graphemic representation of names in early single-sheet charters from Anglo-Saxon England and from the abbey of St Gall. Personal and place-names in Latin charters are among the earliest written evidence for Old English and Old High German. Given their ambiguous lexico-semantic status, scribes could choose whether to treat names as vernacular items or as part of the Latin (con)text. This is reflected in the spellings which they use for the representation of specifically Germanic sounds as well as in their choice of inflectional endings. An analysis of the distribution of these features shows that there is a strong correlation between spellings/endings and different sections of the charters: Latinized spellings and case endings dominate in the dispositive section of charters, whereas more vernacular forms are used in the witness list and, for the St Gall charters, in the charter drafts. A second factor that influences the written representation of names is the social status of the people involved: the names of important people, such as kings, counts or bishops, are more often Latinized than those of more ordinary witnesses. Moreover, the type of name also plays a role as place-names generally display a higher degree of vernacular features than personal names. Thus, the graphemic variation attested in these charters turns out to be highly functional and is indicative of different communicative purposes attached to separate sections of the charters.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Book Section, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > English Department
Dewey Decimal Classification:820 English & Old English literatures
Language:English
Date:2020
Deposited On:25 Nov 2020 12:54
Last Modified:03 Dec 2020 10:14
Publisher:Brill
Series Name:Brill's Series on the Early Middle Ages
Number:27
ISSN:1878-4879
ISBN:978-90-04-42811-9
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004432338_005
Related URLs:https://brill.com/view/title/57292 (Publisher)

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