The language of medieval legal record as a complex multilingual code

Kopaczyk, J. (2020) The language of medieval legal record as a complex multilingual code. In: Armstrong, J. W. and Frankot, E. (eds.) Cultures of Law in Urban Northern Europe. Scotland and its Neighbours c. 1350-c.1650. Series: Theses in medieval and early modern history. Routledge: London, pp. 58-79. ISBN 9780367206802 (doi: 10.4324/9780429262869-6)

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The language of legal record in late medieval urban cultures was multilingual at its core. Latin was still the main written language but the local languages were being incorporated into legal discourse all over Europe. This chapter offers a structural framework designed to pinpoint switches between languages on all levels of linguistic complexity in a communicative event, and illustrates this complexity with examples from fourteenth- and fifteenth-century documents. Code is usually perceived as something secret, shared by a closed group of people, but also as something of significance to that group or to those who stay on the outside. Language is essentially a system of arbitrary signs, while meaning can be encoded and decoded by humans who are equipped with the necessary cognitive and interpretative abilities. Due to the preoccupation of modern linguistics with speech, the theoretical and data-driven approaches to code-switching until the 2000s were devised on the basis of spoken exchanges.

Item Type:Book Sections
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Kopaczyk, Professor Joanna
Authors: Kopaczyk, J.
College/School:College of Arts & Humanities > School of Critical Studies > English Language and Linguistics
Published Online:25 November 2020

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