Multilingualism in Medieval Britain: Sources and Analysis

Ad Putter (Editor), Judith A Jefferson (Editor)

Research output: Book/ReportEdited book


The essays collected in this volume deal with the multilingual cultures of later medieval England and Wales and aim to recover the complexities of spoken and written communication in the later medieval period.

This book is devoted to the study of multilingual Britain in the later medieval period, from the Norman Conquest to John Skelton. It brings together experts from different disciplines — history, linguistics, and literature - in a joint effort to recover the complexities of spoken and written communication in the Middle Ages. Each author focuses on one specific text or text type, and demonstrates by example what careful analysis can reveal about the nature of medieval multilingualism and about medieval attitudes to the different living languages of later medieval Britain. There are chapters on charters, sermons, religious prose, glossaries, manorial records, biblical translations, chronicles, and the macaronic poetry of William Langland and John Skelton. By addressing the full range of languages spoken and written in later medieval Britain (Latin, French, Old Norse, Welsh, Cornish, English, Dutch, and Hebrew), this collection reveals the linguistic situation of the period in its true diversity and shows the resourcefulness of medieval people when faced with the need to communicate. For medieval writers and readers, the ability to move between languages opened up a wealth of possibilities: possibilities for subtle changes of register, for counterpoint, for linguistic playfulness, and, perhaps most importantly, for texts which extend a particular challenge to the reader to engage with them.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationTurnhout
PublisherBrepols Publishers
Commissioning bodyWorldwide Universities Network
Number of pages0
ISBN (Electronic)978-2-503-54263-8
ISBN (Print)978-2-503-54250-8
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Publication series

NameMedieval Texts and Cultures of Northern Europe
PublisherBrepols Publishers


  • Area Studies Europe
  • English Language and Literature
  • History, Languages and Literature and Medieval History


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