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Multilingualism research group, seminar 1

When Feb 19, 2015
from 01:00 PM to 02:30 PM
Where Brown Library, DTAL, Faculty of English
Contact Name
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There will be two seminars on the Multilingualism research theme this term at which members of the network will present their research. The sessions will run from 1-2.30 in the Brown library, on the top floor of the English Faculty building, West Road, and coffee and biscuits will be provided. Feel free to bring your own lunch.

A multilingual approach to the history of standard English

Dr Laura Wright (Faculty of English)

This paper focuses on three developmental stages in the history of English which are apparent from a multilingual perspective but which are currently omitted from textbooks: the late medieval multilingual business system, the fifteenth century tip-point when the switchover from Medieval Latin and Anglo-Norman French to English was imminent, and the subsequent shift to Proto-Standard English.  I survey recent work which shows a disruption phase in the last few decades of the fourteenth century in both Anglo-Norman and multilingual business writing.  Starting with this disruption phase around the 1370s and continuing to the tip-point to monolingual English around the 1480s (the dating is not concrete, it varies from archive to archive, but roughly fits these parameters), I argue that the intervening century constitutes a transition period of multilingualism: from mid 14th c. monolingual Medieval Latin and Anglo-Norman, to mid-15th c. multilingualism, to late 15th c. monolingual Proto-Standard English.


Two multilingal curse tablets: problems and possibilities

Dr Nick Zair (Faculty of Classics)

The 'Greek in Italy' project is devoted to investigating the effects of language contact between Greek and the languages of ancient Italy. In this paper I will discuss two curse tablets from around 300 BC from southern Italy, written on thin pieces of lead and containing the names of people to be cursed. This genre of text appears to have been brought by Greek colonists to Italy, where it was adopted by speakers of Oscan before being taken up by Latin-speakers. I will discuss issues involving multilingualism that arise from the curse tablets such as: problems of reading the texts; can we tell what language the tablets are written in; what type of multilingual behaviour is being shown; do the texts provide evidence for Latin, as well as Oscan and Greek, being spoken at this time in southern Italy?

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