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Interlinguistic Communication In Bede's Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum

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Chapter Summary

This chapter looks to a time when we do have some direct evidence, albeit of a problematic and limited kind: Bede's Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum, completed around 731, supplemented by reference to other roughly contemporaneous Anglo-Latin texts. The Historia ecclesiastica generally provides two sorts of evidence for vernacular multilingualism: narratives and place-names. Combined with the other evidence mentioned, then, the absence of Latin as a lingua franca from the Synod of Whitby can be used to question the potential status of Latin as a lingua franca in early medieval Britain. Bede's concern about Anglo-Saxons' limited access to Latin is abundantly clear, but taken together, a number of hints also point towards his sensitivity to Roman and British Latin-language traditions in Britain.

Keywords: Bede's Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum; British Latin; lingua franca ; Synod of Whitby; vernacular multilingualism



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