Coins as evidence

Philip A. Shaw

in The Oxford Handbook of the History of English

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199922765
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

Coins as evidence

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  • Linguistics
  • Historical and Diachronic Linguistics



Coin inscriptions may be used as evidence for “spelling regulation at a local or national level” and for “practical constraints” affecting orthographic practice and its relationship with phonology. This article presents two case studies illustrating such uses of coin inscriptions. The first case study provides evidence for orthographic change in progress, but also raises questions about the relationship between epigraphic and manuscript orthography, between the processes of minting and the writing practices of ecclesiastical centers. The second case study indicates that an orthographic variation, which would be surprising if read as indicating phonological variation, may be a reflection of practical adaptation of orthographic practice.

Keywords: coins; inscriptions; spelling; phonology; digraph; Old English; orthography; phonological variation; coinage; King Ecgberht of Kent; King Eadberht of Northumbria; ecclesiastical centers; evidence; linguistics

Article.  1028 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Historical and Diachronic Linguistics

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