Article

Textual Fluidity and the Interaction of Latin and the Vernacular Languages

Brian Murdoch

in The Oxford Handbook of Medieval Latin Literature

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780195394016
Published online September 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195394016.013.0014

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Textual Fluidity and the Interaction of Latin and the Vernacular Languages

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  • Classical Reception
  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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It took time for literatures in the vernacular languages to acquire sufficient status to be preserved in writing and thus to develop beside and away from Latin, the language of the Vulgate and that of an already established literature, of scholarship and of science. In the cases of the Celtic and West-Germanic cultures in particular, Latin was a completely distinct language, which had to be learned. Accordingly, these cultures often provide the clearest examples of the interpenetration with Latin at all levels—linguistic, thematic, and aesthetic. An early secular example of a slightly different integration of Latin and the vernacular is found where Roman legal codification was applied to the customs of very different cultures. The Lombardic Edict of Rothar of 643 is in Latin, but it incorporates Germanic terms, sometimes in Latinised form and usually explained, though the integration is not always clear. Of major significance in the consideration of vernacular and Latin interaction is the sermon, that part of Church ritual where the vernacular was encouraged. The exemplary case of Otfrid's ninth-century German Gospel-poem offers a number of perspectives on the interaction of Latin and the vernacular.

Keywords: vernacular languages; Latin; Vulgate; Celtic culture; West-Germanic culture; Edict of Rothar; Otfrid

Article.  10092 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Classical Reception ; Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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