Discourse community means what

"The which day compeirit ..."

Hofmann, Klaus (2013) "The which day compeirit ...".
Diploma thesis, University of Vienna. Faculty of Philological and Cultural Studies
Supervisor: Ritt, Nikolaus

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Abstract in English

This study examines the process of anglicization of the language of Scottish legal-administrative records during the Early Modern period, considered here as a case of convergence of supra-local written norms. Rate and manner of anglicization are assessed by analyzing five linguistic features considered to be diagnostic of the contemporaneous written varieties of Middle Scots and Early Modern English. The empirical data are provided by a series of court and council record books from the Scottish Lowland burgh of Dunfermline, covering the time span between 1573 and 1723. The texts for the analysis have been extracted from the original manuscripts and prepared in the form of a computer-readable corpus. This corpus consists of a compilation of text samples representing the linguistic profiles of individual writers, i.e. town clerks and assistant scribes, whose idiolects thus form the basic units of the investigation. A detailed description of the source material is provided, paying special attention to socio-pragmatic aspects such as the communicative functions of the texts within their historical embedding and the nature of the discourse type and discourse community of legal-administrative writing. It is found that during the 150 years covered by the corpus, all five linguistic variables underwent extensive anglicization, moving from predominantly Scots usage at the beginning of the investigation period to almost exclusively English usage in the early 18th century. However, the writers of the Dunfermline record books did not adopt the English variants wholesale. Instead, each of the analyzed features differs to some degree from the others in terms of pace and manner of the change, just as each scribal idiolect exhibits a distinctive configuration of linguistic variants. This suggests that the new norm was not imposed from above by means of prescriptive devices, but diffused through non-explicitly normative channels. A comparison with previous studies shows that the burgh record books of Dunfermline anglicised at a much slower rate than other prose genres, which may best be explained by the generally introvert, self-sufficient nature of legal-administrative writing. Within this discourse type, burgh records seem to have adopted English forms even more slowly than records from national institutions, which is most likely due to the vertical structure of the discourse community with central institutions of supra-regional and national importance acting as models for local ones.

Keywords in English

Middle Scots / Anglicization / legal records / philology / historical linguistics / standardization / Scotland / Scots / Early Modern period

Abstract in German

The present work is dedicated to the Anglicization of the written Middle Scottish language in legal and administrative sources of the early modern period. The speed and manner of the Anglicisation process are analyzed on the basis of five linguistic features, the Middle Scottish variants of which differ in characteristic ways from the Early New English forms. The empirical material is made up of a series of court and council books from Dunfermline, a town in the Scottish Lowlands, covering the period from 1573 to 1723. The texts for the analysis were taken from original manuscripts and prepared in the form of a computer-readable corpus. The corpus consists of text samples for individual town clerks and their signatories, whose idiolects thus represent the basic unit of the investigation. The source material is described in detail, with particular attention being paid to its socio-pragmatic context. Above all, the communicative function (s) of the texts within their historical framework and the properties of the discourse type and the discourse community of legal-administrative documents are in the foreground. The empirical investigation shows that all five characteristics changed decisively to the English variants during the examined 150 years. However, the innovative shapes did not all find their way into Dunfermline's court and council books at the same time. Each feature differs from the others to a certain extent in terms of speed and form of change, just as each writer profile is distinguished by a characteristic combination of variants. This suggests that the innovative standard was not used by the authorities by means of prescriptive measures, but rather spread through channels that were not explicitly normative. A comparison with previous studies shows that the books from Dunfermline were generally captured by the Anglicisation process much more slowly than other prose stories, which can best be explained by the introverted, self-sufficient nature of the legal-administrative discourse. Within this type of discourse, local records from individual cities seem to lag behind those of supraregional and state authorities, which can be traced back to the vertical structure of the discourse community, in which the language used by central authorities has a role model effect on subordinate institutions.

Keywords in German

Middle Scottish / Anglicization / Legal Sources / Philology / History of Language / Standardization / Scotland / Scottish / Early Modern Times

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