Making Connections: Scribal dialect, spoken dialect, written word.

Strangely enough, like Sienna noted, it didn’t really occur to me that Langland, and all Middle English manuscripts creators existed in a world of multi-media – written and spoken word. In their time, even more than modern time, spoken narratives and verse were incredibly popular. This post links the concept of multi-media to what Thomas posted about spoken dialect. There is a good amount of influence between the way that different dialects influence the technique of creative writing, specifically Langland’s alliterative verse. A way to answer this question that the reading provides is to study the manuscript much like an archeologist studies a fossil. When you examine the details of scribal hand technique you get another form of media, the “dialect” of the hand of the scribe. Even with this form of what the OUMEM calls “paleographical dating” there are questions and discrepancies, however. “one can be fooled by…an older scribe who has not kept up to date with changes in script, or a young scribe trained by an older one in some remote area, or a scribe who is simply albiet awkwardly imitating an older hand”. This does allow another media to synthesize information through and to study as it converses with itself and evolves over time.
In regards to dialect and words, the evolution of alliterative verse as a technique that marries written and spoken word shows “evidence …of a still comfortably, playfully trilingual world.” The use of certain phrases and idioms for the sake of alliterative verse shows the vocabulary pool that the copyist or scribe of the time had to choose from. Often, scribes would rewrite some poems to fit the alliterative style of the entire anthology or put two poems side by side which marry somehow through stylistic technique, content or context. The first chapter of OUMEM addresses this phenomenon when they are discussing the Harley scribe and compiler on page 46.
The choices of stylistic technique and ordering of anthologies that scribes and compilers made can provide evidence about the constantly evolving influence that dialect, language, and scribal technique had on the world of readers and vice-versa; these choices can also provide evidence of the attitude of the scribe themselves.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.