Copying strategies of late Middle English scribes: Hand(s) and language(s) of two 15th-century manuscripts

María José Carrillo-Linares


The purpose of this paper is to compare two 15th-century manuscripts, Cambridge, University Library Kk.1.3 and Oxford, Bodleian Library Hatton 50, focusing on both paleographical and linguistic aspects. Samples from different sections of both manuscripts have been transcribed from either the original manuscripts or digital photographic reproductions. Each word and morpheme have been lexico-grammatically tagged to evaluate the scribe’s linguistic behaviour with respect to spelling, phonology, and morphology. Paleographical and linguistic data to support the two main conclusions of the study are offered. With this analysis, I conclude that both manuscripts are, almost certainly, copied by the same person. Comparison of the different copying strategies generated by this single scribe allows us to achieve a better understanding of the written material in which Middle English has been preserved.


linguistic variation; Middle English; paleography; scribes

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Ann Arbor, University of Michigan, Hatcher Library, 225

Cambridge, University Library Kk.1.3 (parts 10 and 11)

London, British Library Harley 1337

London, British Library Harley 6251

Manchester, John Rylands Library English 63

Northumberland, Alnwick Castle 455

Oxford, Bodleian Library, Hatton 50

Oxford, Bodleian Library, Rawlinson C. 901

Oxford, Bodleian Library, Tanner 11

Oxford, St John’s College 57

Philadelphia, Rosenbach Museum and Library 1084/2

Princeton, Firestone Library 100


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