Medieval Glossators as Agents of Language Change

Markus Schiegg

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book


In the 8th century A.D., Frankish monks used styli to carve words in vernacular German on the margins and between the lines of Latin manuscripts to annotate demanding passages of the Latin text. This paper examines two aspects of how these glossators served as promoters of language change. First, dry-point glosses are the first documents to be written in Old High German; the glossators’ use of the vernacular resulted in a substantial change in written language usage: the gradual replacement of Latin by Old High German. Second, glossators are promoters of progressive language forms, as they often employ language of conceptional orality that cannot be encountered in other text types until centuries later. This paper’s functional and sociolinguistic approach on progressive spellings of vernacular glosses proves valuable for the reconstruction of the early medieval language of orality.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationScribes as Agents of Language Change
EditorsEsther-Miriam Wagner, Ben Outhwaite, Bettina Beinhoff
Place of PublicationBerlin, New York
Publisherde Gruyter
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Publication series

NameStudies in Language Change
Publisherde Gruyter


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