Nikolaus Ruge: Linguistic Perspectives on Medieval Account Books – The comptes de la baumaîtrie of the City of Luxembourg (1388-1500). Abstract # 16 (random order)

“It is a widespread practice among language historians to consider documents written in administrative language as more or less inferior compared to documents in common registers. Recurring stereotypes concern their highly formulaic character on all linguistic levels, the abundance of archaisms and the predominance of technical terms in the lexicon. While none of these arguments is completely false, there is still enough morphology and syntax inside the formulas, and the abundance of lexical (and other) innovations largely outweighs the presence of archaisms.

The value of historical linguistic data depends on the accuracy of their dating and localization. In both cases, account books deliver reliable evidence, as opposed to other textual genres. As serial sources, they facilitate a step-by-step reconstruction of language change phenomena. Their concrete value depends nonetheless on the linguistic level examined and the length of the period covered.

Both by quantity and quality, the Comptes de la Baumaîtrie of the city of Luxembourg represent an important source for the early history of West Moselle Franconian (the ancestor of modern Luxembourgish). The period covered ranges from 1388 to 1500, in total, 66 volumes have come down to us. From 1444 onwards, very few volumes have been lost. Altogether, the corpus contains about 600.000 tokens. As the city of Luxembourg is situated near the border between Romance and Germanic languages, they carry valuable evidence for historical language contact.

In order to encourage further linguistic research based on the Luxembourg corpus, we are publishing, since 2007 and in close collaboration between historians and linguists from the universities of Luxembourg and Trier, a diplomatic edition of the text. There remain, however, major obstacles to the lemmatization and annotation of the corpus.”

Nikolaus Ruge (Universität Trier)

Presentation: Oct 23, 10.05-10.25 a.m., University of Regensburg, Großer Sitzungssaal des Philosophikums (PT 3.0.79) [PROGRAMME]

 

Picture credits: J. M. W. Turner: Luxembourg from the Alzette Valley [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


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