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Variation and contact in medieval personal names

Research project, funded by the Swedish Research Council 2019-2022

Principal investigator: Michelle Waldispühl

This project investigates which strategies are employed when North Germanic personal names are adapted to medieval German, French and Latin in multilingual contexts during the Middle Ages. It aims at surveying the variation patterns evident in the adaptations and seeks to develop a theoretical model that explains why different strategies were used. In previous research on names in historical language contact, the focus has been on place-names, whereas personal names are still underexplored. This project seeks to fill this gap.

The empirical data analysed in this project consists of ca. 1000 North Germanic names recorded during the 11th to the 14th century by local scribes in Continental monasteries. They show significant signs of language contact and appear in a wide variety of written forms. The structure of the name adaptations and the variation patterns will be analysed using a combination of contact linguistic and historical sociolinguistic methods. A particular emphasis will lie on spelling variation, a key characteristic of pre-modern writing so far neglected in the analysis of historical names.

The corpus will be edited in a database and be transferred to an openly accessible online-platform. In this regard, the project aims also at improving philological edition principles for historical personal names by taking into account both spelling variation and language contact.

Page Manager: Annika Andersson|Last update: 11/16/2018

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