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Linguistic Geography, Demography, And Monastic Community: Scribal Language At Bury St Edmunds

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Chapter Summary

This chapter describes and assesses the material surviving from the Abbey during the Old English period in respect of one particular sound change. It outlines what are generally considered to be the diagnostic dialectal differences between Norfolk and Suffolk in the later period. The evidence supplied by the post-Conquest material from Bury appears to show a blurring of these distinctions: the chapter considers a range of potential explanations for this, and concludes that they are to be found in the demographic make-up of the Abbey's community. In unstressed syllables, all texts show uncertainty as a result of the falling together of all the back vowels with the unstressed front vowel /e/ in /. Links to Norfolk were potentially also strengthened by the importance of the cult of St Edmund in that county, a cult which was promulgated highly successfully in the immediate post-Conquest years by Abbot Baldwin.

Keywords: Abbey; Abbot Baldwin; Norfolk; Old English period; St Edmund; Suffolk; unstressed syllables



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