Jacob Thaisen, Spelling's Significance for Textual Studies

Manuscripts spellings are rarely taken into account when editors trace the stemma of their text for, if considered at all, they are used to localise the various manuscripts. From an evaluation of two Canterbury Tales manuscripts, Christ Church, Oxford, MS 152 and British Library MS Harley 7334, we seek to establish that this is an important omission in textual studies, for changes in the spelling system of a manuscript can signal whether these represent a change of exemplar and thus can control other methods of determining how many exemplars were used in its production. This conclusion is supported by evidence that changes in the spelling system coincide with changes in these manuscripts' codicology.

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