Jacob Thaisen, Studies in the Orthography of Some Manuscripts of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales

The systems of spelling found in the e0tant manuscripts of a late Middle English te0t are rarely considered in discussions of the transmission of that te0t) $f they are1 scholars ha,e typically used the occurrence of dialectal spellings to allocate manuscripts to geographical areas or the occurrence of identical spellings1 often unusual spellings1 in corresponding locations across the manuscripts to reco,er the usage of the presumed archetype) The basis for much of this scholarship has been profiles "hich rely upon te0t samples or "hich list "hat spellings are found in a manuscript but do not re,eal the internal distribution of these spellings in that manuscript) This study considers the spelling and codicology of nine complete1 te0tually2important manuscripts of Jeoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, each of which has copied by a different scribe) The author semi2automatically inde0es the electronic transcripts prepared by the Canterbury Tales project from the spellings registered in the (ro4ect spelling databases for one of the tales) 5e e0tracts a comprehensi,e spelling profile for each manuscript from this inde0) The profiles correspond to the 'uestionnaire used for \&ngus Mc$ntosh1 M)6) Samuels1 et al)1 \& 6inguistic \&tlas of 6ate Mediae,al English 7\&berdeen1 89:;<) The author ne0t e,aluates the distribution of the ,ariant spellings of each lemma relati,e to one another in the indi,idual manuscripts) This e,aluation leads to the findings that these manuscripts typically contain relati,ely fe" co2ordinate sets of spelling and that the boundary bet"een t"o such sets usually coincides "ith a change in the codicology of the indi,idual manuscript) This congruence can be related to the number of e0emplars used by the scribes of these manuscripts in preparing them1 implying that1 "ith outside support1 late Middle English manuscript spelling can be useful for te0tual purposes)Much Canterbury Tales scholarship has been dominated by a ,ie" de,eloped by some te0tual scholars in the inter"ar years) \&ccording to this ,ie" the first manuscripts "ere compiled from multiple e0emplars due to indi,idually circulating tales or1 at best1 from material recei,ed piecemeal1 for Chaucer left the poem unfinished) This study concludes in opposition that large tranches of the te0t "ere physically together in a fi0ed order already "hen it reached the early scribes). (Source: the PDF file uploaded on Academia.edu)

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