Medieval Multilingualism in the British Isles
Magdalene College, Cambridge, Saturday 21st July 2012
Keynote Speaker: Dr Tony Hunt, St Peter’s College, Oxford
The phenomenon of multilingualism in the Middle Ages has received an increasing amount of scholarly attention in recent years, with at least two major essay collections and one conference devoted to the topic since the Millennium, and numerous articles and book chapters. This graduate and early career conference aims to give those new to the field an opportunity to contribute to what has become an important site of critical debate.
Whilst recent scholarship has become steadily more aware of the interconnected nature of Anglo-Norman and Middle English, the use of Latin and its links to the vernaculars has often provoked less sustained attention than is justified by the language’s conceptual and administrative importance. The relationships between the mainstream trilingual culture of England and its contiguous linguistic enclaves (such as Cornish, Cumbric, Welsh, Hebrew, Flemish, Norse, Pictish, Manx, Irish and Scottish Gaelic) also frequently remain comparatively obscure. There is conflicting evidence about the medieval awareness of multilingualism, of the relationships between languages and of the phenomenon of language change; such contemporary treatments of these phenomena as survive often rely extensively on Biblical and Patristic accounts of sacred languages. In view of this complex picture, the conference is intended not only to facilitate a closer examination of the phenomenon of multilingualism, but also of medieval attitudes to its manifestations.
We invite papers that address any aspect of the interaction between the speakers of different languages in the Middle Ages, including, but not limited to:
– attitudes to the tres linguae sacrae and to the vernaculars
– pedagogy and medieval perceptions of language acquisition
– orality and its depictions
– medieval views of linguistic history
– code-switching, miscellanies, and scribal practice