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Linguistic Fragmentation and Redemption before King Alfred

Robert Stanton
The Yearbook of English Studies
Vol. 36, No. 1, Translation (2006), pp. 12-26
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3508732
Page Count: 15
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Linguistic Fragmentation and Redemption before King Alfred
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Abstract

The translation programme of King Alfred the Great was unprecedented in England, but drew on long-standing scholarly and patristic ideas about language. The twin mythologies of the Tower of Babel (where a unitary language was sundered) and Pentecost (where the Holy Spirit spoke to everyone in their own language) provided a framework of cultural response to language difference and change; Gregory the Great. Isidore of Seville, and the Venerable Bede all wrote about these events in terms of Christian communication, providing Alfred and his helpers with an authorization and a justification for their innovative translations.

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