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Post-Conquest Bilingual Composition in Memoranda from Bury ST Edmunds

Kathryn A. Lowe
The Review of English Studies
New Series, Vol. 59, No. 238 (Feb., 2008), pp. 52-66
Published by: Oxford University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20184635
Page Count: 15
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Post-Conquest Bilingual Composition in Memoranda from Bury ST Edmunds
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Abstract

In this article I examine the sequence of eleventh- and twelfth-century memoranda that together constitute Rec. 9.4, edited by A. J. Robertson in 1956 from Oxford, Corpus Christi College MS 197. Although largely in the vernacular, these 13 texts in six main hands include one text wholly in Latin, a memorandum glossed in Latin and two translations into Latin of memoranda appearing earlier in the sequence. I examine the language of the Old English texts, revealing potential Latin influence in choice of lexis and some inflexional endings. I develop this argument in an analysis of the unusual style of the introduction to the third text in the series, an inventory of moveable goods in the foundation at the time of Abbot Leofstan's accession, and argue that it was carefully adapted from a untraced Latin text, perhaps associated with Leofstan's appointment. I also discuss the glossing practices and translation strategies in the other texts. I argue that the natural choice of language for this text type was Old English until well after the Conquest, and that the apparent switch to Latin in this sequence at the end of the eleventh century results from a complex interplay of factors and does not simply represent a distinction between pre- and post-Conquest practices.

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