IMC 2012: Sessions

Session 128: Middle English Regions and Their Languages

Monday 9 July 2012, 11.15-12.45

Paper 128-a'Al þe longage of þe norþumbres': Rules for Scribal Copying and Their Effect on Dialect Variance in 14th-Century Northumbria
(Language: English)
Emma Gilbert, University of Leicester
Index terms: Language and Literature - Middle English, Manuscripts and Palaeography
Paper 128-bEast Anglian Representations of the Demonic Other: Linguistics, Scatological Humor, and Drama
(Language: English)
Lindsey Simon-Jones, Pennsylvania State University, Fayette
Index terms: Language and Literature - Middle English, Performance Arts - Drama, Theology

Paper -a:
The period following the Norman conquest is renowned as the most lawless point in the history of the English language, its vernacular status resulting in the emergence of hundreds of dialects. Close study of the dialect forms, though, assures us that there were rules scribes were following, their variance helping to draw dialect-boundary lines. Northern Middle English has been written of as a homogeneous dialect: this paper will show how the rules governing scribes, and the earnestness with which scribes adhered to them, differed across the area, resulting in, in actuality, a number of distinct northern Middle English dialects.

Paper -b:
The East Anglian English stage abounds with complex, engaging and charismatic demons ranging from low-level fools – whose portrayal is often mired in scatological humor – to eloquent and alluring arch-demons like those of Mankind or the N-town Satan’s Prologue. East Anglian demons differ from concurrent representations in their attention to linguistic markers of Otherness. This paper will consider the ways medieval drama theorizes linguistic difference, specifically the use of scatological language, archaism, and highly stylized language, as a mean of both masking and unmasking the moral or spiritual Other.