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Early evidence and sources


3.1 Introduction

The rst texts documenting the Romance vernaculars date from the eighth and ninth centuries AD. One of the earliest of these texts is the Indovinello Veronese, a short riddle mixing Romance and Latin sentences and scribbled between 730 and 750 AD by an Italian copyist on the front pages of a Visigothic prayer book (Frank and Hartmann 1997:1091). Another fam- ous example is provided in the Strasbourg Oaths, the citation of oral oath formulas in a Latin chronicle written by Nithard, a grandchild of Charlemagne, in the second half of the ninth century and transmitted in a tenth-century manuscript (Frank and Hartmann 1997:5016). Further references would add a multitude of pragmatic contexts in which Romance sentences or texts were written down. They show that the very rst Romance documents are not attached to a cultural movement aiming at institutionalizing Romance vernaculars as written languages, but to singular and varying circum- stances in which writing in the vernacular was a preferable exception to using Latin, which was the normal written language (Selig 2006; 2008a). To detail and strengthen this view, let us rst look at the quantitative data. Up to 1150, Romance documentation is fragmentary and accidental. In northern France and Anglo- Norman England, for instance, there are 21 Romance manu- scripts dating from the period between 750 and 1150; other Romance-speaking areas add another 132 manuscripts for the same period (Iberian Peninsula, 7; Catalan and Occitan areas, 88; Italian areas, 16; Sardinia, 19; Raeto-Romance areas, 2). Though surely manuscripts have been lost, this is an extremely small number of documents compared not only to the Latin tradition but also to Old English and old High German vernacular manuscripts (Lusignan 2011:15f.). Only from 1150 onwards do we have a continually increas- ing number of written Romance texts. Between 1150 and 1250, the Inventaire (Frank and Hartmann 1997) lists 1,225 manuscripts coming from Anglo-Norman England and northern France and another 1,169 from other Romance- speaking areas. In Anglo-Norman England and northern France, this amounts to an increase to 58 times larger in only a quarter of the time in comparison to the preceding period: 750-1150: 21; 1150-1250: 1225. With the exception of

the Iberian Peninsula, where a rich production of charters and other legal texts documents the new functions of the written vernaculars, the contrast for the other Romance- speaking areas is not as dramatic, but still considerable:

Iberian Peninsula (without Catalonia) 750-1150: 7; 1150- 1250: 870 (805 charters and legal texts); Catalan and Occitan areas 750-1150: 88; 1150-1250: 216; Italian areas 750-1150:

16; 1150-1250: 62; Sardinia 750-1150: 19; 1150-1250: 20; Raeto-Romance areas 750-1150: 2; 1150-1250: 1. The quantitative data are in accord with the sociocultural development of the Romance-speaking world of late antiquity and the early and high Middle Ages. The decline in literacy from the seventh century onwards (e.g. the abandonment of lay schooling and the retreat of literacy to clerical institutions) is reected in a widening gap separ-

ating written clerical and oral lay culture (Riché 1962; Banniard 1992). It is important to point out that this gap was not only cultural but also linguistic. Latin was, after the codi cation undertaken by, for instance, Quintilian in the second century AD and Donatus in the fourth, a standard language that integrated only some of the linguistic devel- opments characteristic of the spoken, diglossically low ver- naculars (Cuzzolin and Haverling 2009). The extent to which Latin in late antiquity became a diglossic high variety that

] used for

] not used

by any sector of the community for ordinary conversation(Ferguson 1959:336) is the subject of lively debate among Latin and Romance scholars (Banniard 1992; Wright 2002; 2012; Varvaro 2013b; see also Ch. 2 and §36.3). Suf ce it to say that the Romance vernaculars developed in contexts complementary to formal and written communication, and that in late antiquity and the early Middle Ages the standard written language ceased to follow the changes characteris- tic of the informal and non-elitist varieties. It should be clear that this was not the end of Latin nor the end of Latin communication between clerics and the laity (what Banniard 1992 calls vertical communication ). There was no communicative breakdown, necessitating the inventionof Romance writing. Rather, we have a long period of oligo- literacy (Goody and Watt 1968). During this situation, where literacy was restricted to a very small educated elite, two

was learned largely by formal education and [ most written and formal spoken purposes but [

The Oxford Guide to the Romance Languages . Adam Ledgeway and Martin Maiden (eds)

24 This chapter © Barbara Frank-Job and Maria Selig 2016. Published 2016 by Oxford University Press.

cultures a clerical written, Latin culture and the oral Romance culture of the laity coexisted. Only in the twelfth century do we nd clear evidence for the massive appro- priation of literacy outside the clerical elite (Martin 1988:121-77). By then, the overwhelming domination of Latin in written communication began to be weakened by the increasing use of Romance varieties in writing. This was the starting point of a centuries-long standardization pro- cess in the course of which the Romance vernaculars gained a new shape as they developed into diasystems with written vernacular varieties dominating them. This brief survey of the sociolinguistic and sociocultural evolution shows that we need to make an internal differen- tiation of the written evidence. We propose to distinguish a rst period which starts with the appearance of entire texts or parts of texts written in Romance, not in Latin (for prior and indirect documentation of Romance developments in Latin texts, see Ch. 1). These texts give direct access to the vernacular, and document a new awareness of the linguistic differences between normal written Latin and varieties used outside this functional domain. By choosing non-Latin forms as a means of written communication, the scribe/ author documents the new status of formerly solely spoken Romance varieties. Yet it is not easy to decide whether these varieties are still part of a diasystem including and dominated by Latin or whether they should be analysed as autonomous languages. We will opt for the rst solution, prolonging the diglossic situation up to the moment when the increasing use of Romance in writing initiates its full emancipation from Latin and the emergence of vernacular varieties rmly attached to communicative distance and writ- ten usage. This bipartite division of early Romance evidence will be reected in the following sections. First, we will talk about the early fragmentary and sporadic use of Romance forms in writing, showing the communicative contexts which are more prone to abandon Latin in favour of Romance varieties (§3.2). The analysis of the early documentation will be followed by some reections on later developments attached to the institutionalization of Romance-language lit- eracy, such as the development of local scribal traditions (scriptae) and tendencies to koineization (§3.3). Finally, we will conclude these reections about the early Romance evi- dence and sources with some remarks on the consequences for editorial work and linguistic data analysis (§3.4).

3.2 Early Romance texts: pathways to vernacular writing traditions

The appearance of written evidence of the Romance lan- guages took place in a sociohistorical situation shaped by


the coexistence of two cultures: on the one hand, the highly literate Latin culture of the clergy and, on the other, the oral culture of laypeople. These two cultures were inter- woven, and there was no clear-cut border between tradi- tions attached to Latin and developing Romance literacy (Selig 2006; 2011). The latter drew largely on the culture of the centuries-long written tradition of Latin as an elaborated and codi ed standard language, known in medieval times as grammatica . This included references to linguistic practices developed in Latin written trad- ition, but also the adoption of the textual practices devel- oped in the traditional domains of Latin writing and in its well-de ned range of discourse traditions (i.e. genres or text types; cf. Koch 1997a). These Latin discourse tradi- tions constituted an integral part of the medieval Lebens- welt functioning within the communicative needs and aims of their practitioners. Latin and its discourse traditions were, however, not the only source of early Romance written evidence. The second sociocultural framework for the beginning of Romance writ- ing is provided by vernacular orality, be it the ceremonial (diglossically high) communications of the laity (elaborated orality ; cf. Koch and Oesterreicher 2001; 2012; cf. also Assmann and Czaplicka 1995:126) or discourse traditions rooted in the oral practices of everyday communication in pragmatic or informal contexts. These oral discourse prac- tices are only indirectly accessible nowadays through the medium of written texts. Yet their oral origins are still detectable due to some of their formal and semantic fea- tures. Their written transmission is, however, overlaid with typical features of the written tradition. Looking at the appearance of the vernaculars in the written media from the angle of discourse traditions and their prag- matic anchoring in formal or informal communicative conditions (communicative distance/communicative immedi- acy; cf. Koch 1997a; Koch and Oesterreicher 2001; 2012; Oesterreicher 1997) allows us to gain an overview of the medieval Romance-speaking world, which goes beyond their many local particularities and helps us to detect the path- waysleading to early Romance written texts. In fact, we can observe in all the Romance regions the emergence of the same types of written texts, which can be divided into three groups. First of all, there are short geographically and tempor- ally scattered stretches of limited communicative impact belonging to the everyday practices of communicative immediacy (Koch and Oesterreicher 2001; 2012) as well as texts or parts of texts which were not intended for repeated reception, written outside the usual text eld of a manuscript and often accompanying or inserted in Latin texts. Their transmission was exclusively due to the Latin texts and manuscripts they were added to. With Oesterreicher (1993) we can call this type of Romance texts



in-scripturations. 1 Very often, these texts are bilingual, LatinRomance, attesting to the typical diglossic situation of the Romance-speaking societies of the early Middle Ages (Selig 1993) with Latin representing the high variety, Romance the low (cf. §3.2.1). A second context is provided by all sorts of pragmatic texts which facilitate the professional work of its authors, such as administrative or juridical texts, but also lists of accounts, taxes, debtors, or goods (cf. §3.2.2). Finally, we have to mention all those Romance texts which, as literary texts, contribute to the cultural memory of the society and therefore account for their authors and scribesmetalin- guistic awareness of the vernaculars as languages in their own right, side by side with Latin (cf. §3.2.3). These texts are the very rst and almost premature vestiges of discourse traditions which belonged to the collective memory of the secular society and whose unfolding and expansion rst started after 1150. Only these last two types of discourse traditions contributed to the collective memory of the Romance-speaking communities and can therefore attest to in-scripturalization (Oesterreicher 1993; Tristram 1998), the process that eventually resulted in the conven- tionalization of supraregional writing norms and text tra- ditions, and, in the end, in the standardization of the Romance languages.

3.2.1 In-scripturation: inserting Romance utterances in Latin texts

Accompanying the presentation of documents in Tables 3.1 3.3, we give an overview of the documents stemming from before the middle of the twelfth century, commenting on some of them in more detail. 2 Due to limitations of space, the lists contain only the most important Romance texts attested before 1150. The written documentation of spon- taneous utterances is attested in nearly all regions of the Romance-speaking world, and in most cases, these attest- ations represent the very rst documentation of the respect- ive vernaculars: examples include the Probatio pennae (pen trials) in Raeto-Romance (Frank and Hartmann 1997:1092), the Italo-Romance Postilla amiatina (Frank and Hartmann

1 The terms in-scripturation and in-scripturalization (Tristram 1998:12) translate the corresponding German distinction between Verschrif- tung and Verschriftlichung (Oesterreicher 1993). The former refers to a more or less word-for-word transfer from the spoken to the written medium, while the latter implies the presence of such speci c conventions of written texts as textual coherence, structural completeness, and lexical precision. 2 Our overview will not include the Romanian area, which shows a considerable delay with respect to the appearance of the rst vernacular documents (Windisch 1993; §8.1).


1997:1093), and the oldest inscriptions in volgare (vernacular) from the Italian area (Frank and Hartmann 1997:1001-4). These documents were the continuation of a long-standing tradition of late Latin scribes who played with the linguistic contrast between the high and the low varieties (e.g. Classical

vs vulgar Latin) for humoristic or ideological purposes (Selig

1993). For the scribes of these vernacular texts or passages within texts, there was a smooth transition from the contrast between vulgar Latin and Classical Latin to that between

Romance vernaculars and Latin. The marginal and somewhat contingent character of

these short and often fragmentarily recorded texts in Romance shows that writing them down was not perceived by medieval scribes as the start of a new tradition or even as the launching of writing conventions for the vernaculars. On the contrary, the Romance texts or passages function as

a stylistic contrast within the Latin context, and in this

sense represent the continuation of written vulgar Latin. This is the case of the volgare (vernacular ) inscriptions representing the utterances of ordinary people in mural paintings and mosaics of northern Italy (examples are listed in Frank and Hartmann 1997:1001-32), where the Italo- Romance parts were meant to contrast with the Latin pas- sages within the text with a comic effect or an ideological purpose (Koch 1999). In the mural paintings representing the story of St Clement in Rome (Frank and Hartmann 1997:1003), for example, the evil pagans speak in the vulgar vernacular whereas the saint speaks in Latin. For most of the scribes using Romance in their probationes pennae , namely their scribblings in the margins of Latin manu- scripts, these utterances were clearly meant to represent spontaneous and expressive speech, be it vulgar Latin or Romance. This is the case in the oldest evidence for Raeto- Romance, a probatio pennae added to the front page of a Latin manuscript at the monastery of St Gallen in Switzerland (Frank and Hartmann 1997:1092). Here the scribe starts with

a biblical citation in Latin and continues with the spontan- eous expression of his emotions:

Hoc est deus meus. (Latin:) This is my God. deus meus, ut quid dereli- my God, why hast Thou forsaken

quisti me j Diderros nehabe

diegemuscha j earn a y from it[ [ In principio erat uerbum 3 (Latin:) In the beginning was the Word


me j (Raeto-Romance:) Diderros should




3 Liver (2010:84). Our translation follows the interpretation of Sabatini (1963:153) cited by Liver (2010:84f.) and the reading of diege as a verbal form following Liver (2002), who gives the corresponding Latin translation of the utterance as: Diderros inde habere debeat muscam .

Table 3.1 In-scripturation: Romance utterances in Latin texts







8th c.

Indovinello veronese

probatio pennae ; bilingual riddle added to the front pages of a prayer book Mural inscription; graf to

Latin Italo-Romance

IS 1091

1st half of 9th Graf tto di Commodilla IS 1001


c.960 963

Placiti Cassinesi

Citations of testimonies in Latin court documents Short commentary added to a Latin charter Added to the rst page of a Latin manuscript Mural inscription; utterances of persons illustrated in a fresco Romance oath formulas in a Latin historiographic text

Latin Italo-Romance (Campanian) Italo-Romance added to a Latin text


Postilla amiatina IS 1093 Probatio Pennae of Würzburg IS 1092 Iscrizione di San Clemente IS 1003 Nithardi Historiarum Libri IV , containing the oaths of Strasbourg IS 5016 Deux griffonnages français IS 1094 Didascalia sopra una gura di leone IS 1024 Glosas Emilianenses IS 1050

c .1000



11th c., end



10th 11th c.

(Roman) Latin citations of spoken oaths in French and German

11th c.

Marginal notes in the Latin Vita Sancti Cilliani Legend accompanying the picture of a lion added on the last yleaf of a Byzantine codex Glosses in a Latin manuscript

French added to a Latin text

11th c.


11th c.

Spanish (Navarro- Aragonese) and Basque added to Latin texts Spanish translation added to a Latin text Italo-Romance utterances of persons illustrated in the mosaic

11th c.

Glosas Silenses IS 1051 Mosaico dei duellanti di Vercelli IS 1002

Glosses translating a Latin penitential

c .1148

Italo-Romance inscriptions in a mosaic originating from the cathedral of Vercelli

IS = Inventaire systématique in Frank and Hartmann (1997). The statistics are based on the overview in the same work.

Nearly the same case can be seen in a short marginal note scrawled in a Latin collection of saintslives in which the scribe expresses his emotions in Romance words, but changes to Latin for the conventional text of the prayer (all other scribblings in the margins of this manuscript are in Latin):

[ ] en noster segneur [ nostre segnor

think that you love with love our

Lord bin est raison | car il uos puet bin rendere aue Maria gracia plena D omin us

] ie croi ke uos ames par amos


] in our Lord [


[this] is well done for he will render it to you. Ave Maria gratia plena Dominus 4

The palaeographic and linguistic analysis of these very short texts shows that each scribe had to overcome the problems of recording a not yet codied language, and had to devise his own system for rendering spoken utter- ances using a graphic system designed for Latin. As can

4 Frank and Hartmann 1997:1094: Douai, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 857, f. 110v, the manuscript and scribbled note both date from the 11th c. Text following Gysseling (1949:210, Appendice, no. 1).



easily be seen, most of the texts cited from this group are written without using the system of abbreviations employed in Latin writing. Furthermore, where spaces were used between words, the amalgamation of preposi- tions and articles with the lexemes they are associated with shows a Latin-based conception of morphology (Frank 1994:42-60). However, these sporadic experiments with the vernacular could not lead to a tradition. They did not cor- respond to the needs of formal written communication. Thus there was, for the scribes, no need for continuity in these writing practices.

3.2.2 In-scripturalization I: pragmatic texts in professional contexts

The texts of this second group all turn out to be the (some- times premature) forerunners of pragmatic discourse tradi- tions which were to take over the functions of former Latin practices in monasteries, chanceries, or the administrative ofces of courts and towns. Latin traditions provided a large repertoire of formulas and textual models for the vernacu- lars that were rst sporadically and later regularly inserted into the respective Latin text formulas. Scribes of Latin charters frequently inserted citations of vernacular testimonies or oaths (originating from older German oral law) into the framework of Latin charters, as can be seen in the feudal oaths from southern France and Catalonia, which stood at the beginning of a broad medieval tradition of private charters in the vernaculars (Frank 1996; Kosto 2007). The linguistic form of these texts is rather simple many of them are mere lists (Koch 1990)and many, such as the feudal oaths, show a highly formulaic style. The scribes inserted the vernacular into the Latin context without highlighting the language switch in the layout of the docu- ments; or they added the vernacular in the blank spaces of Latin charters or manuscripts. Thus, the Nodicia de kesos , the oldest extant pragmatic text from Spain, was added in the blank verso (reverse side) of a Latin charter dating from the tenth century. The text contains a short list which indicates occasions of the donation of cheeses (for the work of the monks of the abbey) followed by the respective number of cheeses: 5

No di cia de/kesos que/espisit f(rate)r / Note about cheeses that Brother se meno Inlab[ore]/def(rat)r(e)s Inilo ba Semeno donated for the work of the brothers. In the

5 Our transcription follows the layout of the original text.


cela re/decir ka s(an)c(t)e Ius/te kesos .U.

vineyard around [the monastery of] San Justo ve cheeses. Inilo/alio de apa te/II kesos en que In the other of the abbots, two cheeses. In which pu seron ogano/kesos : IIII Inilo they planted this year, four. In the one de ka strelo :I:

of Castrillo, one, Inila uinia maIore/:II: [ ]

in the big vineyard, two [

]. 6

For this kind of writing, the information-storage capaci- ties of the graphic medium are decisive. Texts of this type (In-scripturalization I) contain data of all kinds: information about merchandise, estates, or properties as well as fees, taxes, and lists of debtors among other things. With the Conto navale pisano (end of the eleventh or beginning of the twelfth century), the enumeration of payments made by the city of Pisa for its merchant marine, the very beginnings of north Italian municipal administration in the vernacular is represented. The survival of this early representation is due to the fact that the parchment containing it was used to protect the cover of a Latin codex. As a result, we can conclude that these types of Romance writing were not intended for longer-lasting transmission. Yet as premature examples of an emerging writing practice, these early prag- matic texts show that Romance had become an ordinary part of communicative life in monasteries, chanceries, and urban ofces.

3.2.3 In-scripturalization II: discourse traditions and cultural memory

The texts belonging to this group clearly rank among the most famous early medieval texts of the Romance lan- guages. The scribes/authors of these texts willingly estab- lished new discourse traditions and contributed to the emergence of Romance conventions for texts belonging to the cultural memory of the lay community. Of course, the emergence of diglossically high ceremonial texts in the vernaculars was directly affected by Latin writing tradi- tions, taking its point of departure from these. This was

6 Nodicia de kesos, León, Archivo de la Catedral, ms. 852, 1st part (end of the 10th c.). For a complete reproduction of this selection see <http:// cembranos.org/fotos/Nodicia%20de%20Kesos.JPG> (last download 27 May 2013); for a detailed analysis with the complete transcription and Spanish translation, see Morala Rodríguez (2008). See Frank (1994:55-7) for an analysis of the graphic conventions of the scribe.

Table 3.2 In-scripturalization I: pragmatic texts








1st quarter of the 10th century

Glossario di Monza IS 1078

Fragment of an Italo-RomanceGreek glossary for a travelling clerk (the glossary contains a vocabulary of everyday use) List written by a monk of the abbey of San Justo y Pastor Oath of fealty sworn by the count of Foix to the archbishop of Gérone

Italo-Romance (Lombard)Greek (Byzantine)



Nodicia de kesos IS 9059 Serment de délité prêté par Roger Ier, comte de Foix, à son oncle Peire, évêque de Gérone IS 72153 Conjurations romanes dans le

Spanish (Leonese) mixed with some Latin words Latin Occitan (only parts of the oaths are in Romance)




Conjuration formulae for the healing of injuries, added on in the margins of a Latin manuscript in the possession of the cathedral of Clermont- Ferrand Convention with a feudal oath between private individuals



Middle to end of 10th c.

Breviarium Alarici IS 3076


c .1050


Latin Catalan (only parts of the oaths are in Romance; the rest of the charter and parts of the oaths are in Latin) Latin Catalan (only parts of the oaths are in Romance) Latin Occitan (only parts of the oaths are in Romance)

IS 75002

1035 1055

Jurament feudal de Ramon IS 75001 Serment de délité prété par Guillem II de Besalu IS 72150 Serment de délité prêté par la vicomtesse de Narbonne IS 72151

Oath of fealty



Oath of fealty sworn by the count of Besalu to the archbishop of Narbonne Oath of fealty sworn by the viscountess of Narbonne to the archbishop of Narbonne



Latin Occitan (only parts of the oaths are in Romance)

Discourse tradition of feudal oaths in south France and Catalonia


Carta cagliaritana

Charter, conrmation of a

Sardinian (written in the Greek

IS 74017



Discourse tradition of Sardinian charters in the Greek alphabet

c .1090

Partición de Huesca IS 9060

Note regarding the partition of goods

Latin Spanish

End of 11th or beginning of

Conto navale pisano IS 9061

List of expenses concerning the equipping of ships by the city of

Italian (Tuscan)

12th c. c .1120

Premier et second cartulaire de laumônerie de Saint-Martial contenant des notices de donations IS 9121 9212, 9123 9125

Pisa Cartulary of the monastery of Saint-Martial de Limoges containing notes on donations

Latin Occitan

Before 1150

Cartulaire des vicomtes de Millau contenant le Censier de la vicomté IS 9017

Cartulary of the viscounts of Millau containing the Zinsbuch (Book of Tithes) of the county

Occitan Latin (only few parts are relevant)

Discourse traditions: charters and administrative texts of monasteries in Occitan

c .1150

Nota en català coŀ loquial IS 1095

Short commentary added to a Latin charter

Catalan added to a Latin text


only possible because, at least in the beginning, this was in accordance with the interests of the clergy. In fact, nearly all the early texts we nd in this group seem to stand in close relation to the instructional programme of the Caro- lingian Reform (see §2.9), and in particular to conform to the wish of the Church to open to the laity the most important parts of the Christian faith whose practice had until then been exclusively in Latin. Starting in northern France shortly after the Carolingian reforms, these discourse traditions, which contributed to the participation of the laity in Church ceremonies (e.g. para-liturgical songs, prayers and plays, sermons, and the religious instructions of the laity), seemed to blaze trails for the future use of writing in the Romance vernaculars. Most of these texts are bilingual, leaving the ofcial (liturgical) part in Latin and employing the Romance languages in the more emotional and imaginative parts. The oldest of these texts, the Laudes de Soissons , added to the Latin Litany of the Saints a formula of benediction in the vernacular which addressed the Carolingian princes. Even if the Romance parts of the text are short (commonly only the name(s) of the prince(s) followed by a collective To lo(s) iuva May Thou bless him/them ), their repetitive and collective use must, for the people who until then were not used to participating in church ceremonies at all, have made a great impression on lay churchgoers, and certainly had an impact on the collective identity of Carolingian congregants. Start- ing from these subtle beginnings, the discourse traditions of para-liturgical songs, prayers, plays, and dances began their triumphant advance rst in northern and southern France, but from the twelfth century onwards in Italy and Spain as well. 7 Within the context of the reforms of Cluny and, some- what later for the Spanish regions, the reform of Burgos, the translation of the most important sacred texts was part of the instructional programme for laypeople. In the textual transition to Romance this textual practice starts with interlinear and marginal translations of the Bible or texts for the catechism (e.g. the Formula di confessione umbra , Frank and Hartmann 1997:2176, or the famous Eadwine Psal- ter containing interlinear translations in English and (Anglo-Norman) French, Frank and Hartmann 1997:2044). The very rst instances show that the work of translation from Latin to a completely un-normed language of everyday use was complex and arduous. The Raeto-Romance transla- tion of the beginning of a Latin sermon (interlinear trans- lation from Einsiedeln, Frank and Hartmann 1997:2135) shows the major dif culties the scribes had in rendering the complex style of the Latin text in a vernacular which

7 See Frank and Hartmann (1997:213-41) with more examples from northern and southern France, Italy, Castile, and Catalonia.


had not yet been elaborated for this purpose. After a few lines full of omissions and intricate phrases, the scribe gave up (Liver 2010:85). With the success of this type of Romance text production, the vernacular took on its role in the cultural domains hitherto reserved for the Latin of the Church. For the rst time in the Middle Ages, lay people participated in the cultural memory of literacy, and this had a strong impact on the evolution of Romance written traditions. From the mid-twelfth century onwards we see, particularly in north- ern and southern France, an explosion of written vernacular texts sermons, para-liturgical songs and plays, and hagio- graphic narratives, but also examples of older oral narrative and lyrical forms which were, from then on, committed to writing: the chansons de geste, the poems of troubadours and trouvères , courtly romances, and short narratives. Together with these novel written text traditions, a new courtly and urban Romance-language reading public was emerging.

3.3 Writing without focused norms:

scriptae and koinés

From the mid-twelfth century, the increasing use of writing by the laity and the emergence of a lay public for written vernacular literature changed the sociolinguistic conditions of vernacular literacy. In the diglossic situation in which Latin was the uncontested high written variety and Romance only sporadically surfaced in written texts, we cannot expect what modern sociolinguistics (in standard- ization research) has described as the processes attached to the increasing use of written language (external/internal elaboration, selection/acceptance, codication; cf. Haugen 1983; see also Ch. 37). But when chansons de geste or other literary genres became rmly associated with reading and writing and when not only clerics but also lay people began to use the written medium for demanding linguistic tasks (external elaboration), the linguistic situation changed: pro- cesses such as the creation of complex structures capable of ful lling the tasks typical of communicative distance (internal elaboration) as well as tendencies to develop supra-local norms, the so-called scriptae (selection/accept- ance), accompanied the institutionalization of vernacular writing and prepared the ground for standardization. These processes varied in intensity from region to region, but throughout the Romance-speaking areas and continuing until at least the sixteenth century, the linguistic situation was marked by the absence of codi ed standard written languages which were dominant within a stable vernacular diasystem with low local or regional dialects. Thus, the

Table 3.3 In-scripturalization II: cultural memory






End of 8th c.

Laudes de Soissons IS 2054 Séquence en lhonneur de sainte Eulalie IS 2055 Sermon anonyme sur Jonas

Formula of benediction in the Latin Litany of the Saints Sequence about the life of a saint


End of 9th c.


1st half of 10th c.

Outline of a bilingual sermon


IS 2134 Last third of 10th c. Chanson de la Passion ,

fragment from Augsburg

Para-liturgical song about the passion of Christ

French (Berschin and Berschin 2011)

Late 11th c.

IS 2056 Interlinear translation

Formula di confessione umbra

Partial translation of a Latin

Instructions for a trial by


End of 11th c.

from Einsiedeln IS 2135

IS 2176

sermon added to a pseudo- Augustinian sermon Confessional formula inserted into a collection of

Italo-Romance (Umbrian) Latin (the texts to be spoken by the penitent

11th c.

Boëci IS 2093

liturgical and para-liturgical texts Hagiographic song about a saint s life

and by the priest are in Umbrian; the formula for the absolution is in Latin) Occitan



Passion du Christ (1) et Saint Léger (2) IS 2057

Para-liturgical song about the passion of Christ (1) Para-liturgical song about the life of a saint (2)

(1) French with evidence of in uence from OccitanLatin (2) French



Alba bilingue

Para-liturgical song in Latin




IS 2058 Chanson de Sainte Foy d Agen

and Occitan (a matins hymn) Para-liturgical song about a




IS 2059 Para-liturgical songs from

saint s life Collection of para-liturgical

LatinOccitan (4 Occitan songs in a

LatinFrench (most of the text is in

LatinFrench (region of Tours)

Saint-Martial de Limoges IS 2060 Beginning of 12th c. Cérémonial dune épreuve

judiciare IS 2169

songs related to Mary


collection of Latin songs)

Latin; the scribe performs intrasentential code-switching

Beginning of 12th c. Sermons limousins IS 2136 1st part of 12th c. Epître farcie de saint Etienne IS 2063

First part of a collection of sermons Para-liturgical song about a saint s life inserted in a Latin missal (missale turonense )

between French and Latin ) OccitanLatin



Quant li solleiz IS 2061

Para-liturgical hymn about the Song of Solomon

(Norman) French



Hilarii ludi

Collection of para-liturgical

LatinFrench (2 of 15 plays are in

Middle of 12th c.

IS 2064 Eadwine Psalter containing interlinear translations IS 2044

plays with French refrains Interlinear translation of liturgical texts: the Latin text with both an English and a French translation

French) Latin(Anglo-Norman) French English


process not only of elaboration and codication, but also of selection and acceptance were far from being completed in the period we are looking at. Traditional approaches to the early phases of Romance writing traditions have generally ignored the standardizing dynamics. The idea was that in the early phases, scribes and authors started by using their local dialects, and that the emergence of supra-local standards was accomplished by taking over the most prestigious among the existing written dialects. This idea is much too simple to do justice to the emergence of the new standard languages, nor does it do justice to the earliest texts. For, after all, the future standard varieties would not turn out to be identical to any single regional dialect, but would be the result of a mixing of heterogeneous linguistic features. Furthermore, the early scribes did not reproduce their local dialect faithfully when undertaking the task of writing a vernacular text. A local dialect, which is an ensemble of linguistic forms anchored in everyday conversation, is not readily adaptable to written vernacular communication aimed at a supra-local public. In situations of communicative distance, the medieval authors could not yet switch to a supra-local variety, because only Latin was suitable for this role. But they could delocalize their language by integrating Latinisms, by taking over the linguistic features of prestigious discourse traditions such as Occitan or Sicilian courtly lyric poetry, or by choosing forms common to more than one regional speech commu- nity. In doing that, they created linguistically hybrid texts, but the linguistic form of their texts was, consequently, now clearly distant from everyday conversation (Selig 2008b). The idea of linguistic hybridization in early Romance texts contrasts with traditional concepts, but is more suited to an explanation of why we rarely, if ever, nd dialectally homogeneous texts among the early written Romance sources. One of the most widely debated problems, the localization of the Strasbourg Oaths, is much less puzzling in view of a conception of the feudal oath as something used throughout the entire Carolingian realm and leading to a mixing of southern and northern dialect forms (and Latin forms as well). Such a solution obviates the need to search for a place where all the isoglosses evoked by the text coincide. Even if written in Poitiers, as Castellani (1969) proposes, the Strasbourg Oaths were not Poitevin, but Caro- lingian. The same argument is applicable when examining vernacular texts with an extended manuscript tradition. Traditional philology has persistently tried to reconstruct a lost original in order to obtain a dialectally homogeneous text. One of the most famous examples of such a reconstruc- tion is Contini s (1960) edition of Bonvesin da la Riva, a Milanese cleric writing religious instruction for the laity. Contini claims that Bonvesin originally wrote in his Milan- ese dialect, and therefore expurgates even the earliest


manuscripts by removing all non-Milanese elements. Cer- tainly, the copyists did change the language of the texts by adapting it to the public they were writing for. But the Milanese version Contini creates is an ahistorical hypoth- esis by a modern scholar and is certainly far from the language of a medieval cleric who knew and practised Latin as well as the vernacular, and who was writing not for his urban compatriots but for a Christian discourse community with no precise local restrictions (Wilhelm


Many other editors besides Contini have tried to extrapo- late an original on the basis of the differing manuscript versions of medieval texts. The work of the copyists was nearly always seen as a source of contamination, distorting what was originally meant to be a locally homogeneous linguistic artefact. It is essential to emphasize that the knowledge about what was, dialectically speaking, the cor- rect form relied heavily on nineteenth-century data, because dialects, and especially dialect borders, were assumed to be stable and not subject to divergence over time (cf. Dees 1980; 1987; Lodge 2004:53-102). Those inter- ested in securing medieval evidence for dialectal variation therefore suggested dismissing literary texts and concen- trating on charters handed down in only one copy, which could be localized and dated by using external evidence. This, in turn, would permit scholars to localize the linguistic features used in the text. But even in this case, the trad- itional idea of homogeneity turned out to be insuf cient. Remacle (1948), who analysed one of the earliest Wallon charters, discovered that even the language of charters was not local, but integrated elements belonging to other dialect areas. He therefore introduced the notion of scripta into medieval philology, by which he meant a written variety used regularly by medieval scribes and containing local as well as supra-local features. Remacle insisted on the dis- tance separating this variety from the medieval dialects. In his opinion, even the charters could not reect local dialects because it was not one of the intentions of the scribes to document the spoken everyday language. On the other hand, he emphasized the regional nature of the scriptae , each scripta having a limited regional spread because unify- ing factors such as central administrations or centralizing literary traditions were still too weak. One of the major problems, then, is to explain why and how supra-local practices developed and how they spread. Remacle himself suggested that the scribe of the Wallon charter he analysed tried to imitate central Parisian lan- guage, thus sticking to the idea that, from a very early date, vernacular literacy in northern France was oriented towards the prestigious variety of the Île-de-France. As there are practically no vernacular documents from the Île-de-France before the middle of the thirteenth century

(Lusignan 2011:65-84), this is equivalent to postulating that the central dialect must have been diffused orally, possibly by means of an epic tradition (Hilty 1968). The major prob- lem posed by this approach is that the rst written ver- nacular evidence from the Île-de-France has no clear dialectal identity because it integrates numerous linguistic features not originating in the region (Lodge 2004:80-102). To explain this dialect mixing, Cerquiglini (1991) formulated the hypothesis that the forerunner of the written central documents went back to the Carolingian chancery, which planned and consciously created a hybrid variety unifying the different oïl-speaking areas. Another attempt to explain this dialect mixing is offered by Lodge (2004), who follows the models of modern dialectology explaining the formation of immigrant koinés in modern urban settings (Trudgill 1986; Kerswill 2002; Kerswill and Trudgill 2005; see also Grübl 2011). Lodge claims that the dialect mixing was the result of an oral koineization process in medieval Paris. Immigrants, coming to the new metropolitan centre and bringing with them their autochthonous dialects, spontaneously created a new vernacular that integrated the different dialect features by accommodation processes in oral everyday conversation. It has also been suggested that written Castilian is based on the result of koineization processes, in this case centred around the migrations during the Reconquista period (Tuten 2003). Linguistic code-mixing, then, seems to be nd- ing more and more acceptance among Romance scholars:

oral koineization is suggested to have taken place before the beginning of written documentation, as proposed by Lodge or Tuten. Another approach sees hybridization as the result of written language planning among the clerks of the Carolingian chancery (Cerquiglini 1991). However that may be, it is not necessary to restrict accommodation processes to oral communication, nor to restrict hybridization to a momentary effort at language planning. The notion of scripta , introduced by Remacle and consolidated by subsequent research, or the conception of written and oral koiné formation, formulated in order to explain the particularities of northern Italo-Romance writ- ten vernacular ( koiné padana ; Sanga 1990), is suf cient to grasp this peculiarity of written medieval vernaculars. The language of medieval manuscripts is regional because it is based on local dialects, the richest linguistic reality avail- able to medieval authors and scribes. It is, however, not a direct reection of the spoken dialects, because authors and scribes created hybrid linguistic forms adapted to the new supra-local aims of their texts. If the intensity of written production triggers institutionalizing processes, these forms can develop into scriptae , that is, speci c linguistic practices of chanceries and centres of manuscript produc- tion and/or associated with particular discourse traditions. But these scriptae do not attain the status of xed and


clearly dominant standard varieties. Consequently, there is still considerable room for individual variation.

3.4 From medieval manuscripts to linguistic data: pragmatic and sociolinguistic recontextualization

The preceding sections have clearly shown that the early period of transmission of the Romance languages (eighth to twelfth centuries) constituted an exception to medieval Latin writing practices, on which they remained strongly dependent for centuries. This is true also for the contexts and the forms of transmission of the oldest documents. Particular codex forms and layouts for Romance texts only developed in the second phase (from 1150 onwards), the phase of tradition-building for the vernaculars. Before that, the conservation of a written document in a Romance lan- guage represented fortuitous exceptions in which Romance documents written on a durable material survived, due in all probability to their Latin context of transmission. The profound inuence of Latin writing traditions can be seen in the graphic conventions of early Romance texts, in which Latin words served as orientation for word-separation practices (see §3.2.3) and in which layout patterns which were typical of Latin text traditions were chosen. This makes it indispensable that the editors of early Romance texts respect these Latin contexts as carefully as possible. The editor should furnish a detailed description of the asso- ciated Latin texts and the composition of the codex which contains the Romance text. Furthermore, the circumstances of its genesis and use also need to be indicated (locality, date, identities of its owners, scribes and readers, etc.; Frank and Hartmann 1997, I:13-16). Traditional editions usually dating back to the nine- teenth or the rst half of the twentieth century rarely give a faithful representation of the medieval text. Hap- pily, most of the time we have a rich fund of information about the background of the manuscripts (and we should make use of this contribution on the part of traditional philological scholarship). Unfortunately, however, these editions often distort the text of the manuscripts so much that the original texts cannotor can hardlybe recognized. For a long time, indeed, it was common practice to remove supposed inconsistencies or faultswhenever the editor thought it necessary. Traditional editors also tried to minim- ize the difference between medieval and modern layout or (ortho)graphic conventions. Often, the editors did not indicate when they were expanding the abbreviations so frequently used in medieval manuscriptsa practice that



makes morphological research difcult, if not impossible (Schøsler 1984). Editorial practices have changed, and we now have numerous editions which try to come as close as possible to the medieval situation. We can add that, with the possi- bilities of modern digital editions, the wording chosen by the editors can easily be supported with the help of digital images of the manuscript(s). 8 There is an increasingly clear tendency to avoid an anachronistic imposition of concepts originating in modern standard language situations, and to accept the speci c textual and linguistic conditions of medi- eval vernacular texts. Zumthor (1987; 1990) showed that, in medieval vernacular culture, there was no idea of a xed (written) text to be preserved by the copiers, but rather that of a uid, exible model to be followed ( mouvance of the medieval text). The many varying versions of a medieval text often make it impossible for modern editors to distin- guish clearly between author and scribe and between ori- ginal and copy. We can adopt this conception of a exible model even when talking about linguistic norms. In medi- eval times, linguistic norms may have their sources in everyday interaction, because these norms are grounded in a dense social network and frequent and continuous interaction. However, the use of vernacular varieties in written communication entailed entering a communicative domain in which linguistic models existed, but in which there was still considerable space for creativity in the search for solutions adapted to actual circumstances. One of the most striking examples of the openness of medieval linguistic norms is the hybrid language of some literary adaptions (Occitan French in the Girart de Roussillon or French Lombardian in north Italian epics; cf. Pster 1970; Holtus and Wunderli 2005). Even if we ignore these clear

8 See <http://ebeowulf.uky.edu/> (last downloaded 8 October 2015). For more information about digital editions of medieval texts, see <www.digi- talmedievalist.org>. For the early Romance texts mentioned here, most of the digital editing work still remains to be done. There are, however, a few remarkable initiatives, e.g. the Base de Français médiéval for old French from Lyon University: <http://txm.bfm-corpus.org/> (last downloaded 8 October 2015), which gives information about the Strasbourg Oaths, the Eulalie , the Passio Christi , and Saint Léger ; for Spanish manuscripts see <http://admyte. com/home.htm> (last downloaded 8 October 2015); for old Italo-Romance texts, see http://www.silab.it/frox/200/ind_scu.htm (last downloaded on 8 October 2015) and http://www.ovi.cnr.it/ (last downloaded on 8 October 2015), a database for old Italo-Romance.


cases of language contact and code-mixing, we still meet with exible and instable norms. In northern France, a charter written for a local bourgeois public contains more local and regional forms than one directed to aristocratic or royal institutions even when the same scribe wrote both of them (Völker 2003). Another source of variation between texts according to their actual communicative background is the degree of dependence on Latin. When translating or better, adaptingthe Dialogi of Gregory the Great to old French, the French author clearly devised new forms in trying to imitate Latin structures (Frank and Hartmann


3.5 Final reections

The analysis of the early evidence and sources of the Romance languages in the Middle Ages represents a eld of research in its own right that requires its own methods. The most important principle of this research is to avoid anachronistic concepts and perspectives in the description and interpretation of the medieval data. Consequently, it is necessary to abandon traditional conceptions of textual and linguistic norms, traditional ideas about written language use, and clear-cut distinctions between languages or even varieties. On the other hand, it is necessary to adopt the results of modern sociolinguistic approaches to language contact, multilingual practices in the everyday life of diglos- sic communities, standardization, and the identitary and normative power of writing the vernacular. In this sense old French, old Italian, and old Spanish are modern names for a linguistic reality which is difcult to capture: during the rst centuries of our period, we are confronted with the coexistence of individual solutions produced within one text, perhaps never to be reproduced by a larger speech community. Then, from 1150 onwards, we encounter a multitude of scriptae, which were exible regional norms and which were far from representing codied standard var- ieties. Consequently, medieval linguistic data should never be decontextualized: because the Romance varieties have such a low degree of codication, insights into the reasons and the conditions governing this variation are more likely if it is seen in the light of the particular circumstances of its genesis.