Orderic and English

This paper shows that the spellings of English place and personal names in a Latin work can be used to reconstruct the author’s pronunciation of English, a technique that has been to recover evidence for the earliest history of English, but (not to my knowledge) for the eleventh century. The article also has a claim, I believe, to be the first study of pre-modern language attrition, since Orderic, a prolific Latin historian, left England aged 10 and only returned subsequently for one short visit. Orderic’s spellings additionally provide evidence for the (limited) place of written English in the education being offered in the parish churches of the West Midlands in the 1080s.

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Reference: Mark Faulkner, ‘Orderic and English’, in Orderic Vitalis: Life, Works and Interpretations eds. Charles C. Rozier, Daniel Roach, Giles E. M. Gasper & Elisabeth van Houts (Woodbridge, Boydell, 2016), pp. 100-126.