Travelling the paths of discourse traditions

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Translation from Latin is credited as an indispensible source for the elaboration of the written medieval vernaculars. In my contribution I will argue that this perception may result from confusing the concept of ‘source’ language with that of a ‘model’ language. Moreover I will show that for English it was not the Latin model – or, in 14th and 15th centuries, the French model – that influenced the indigenous literate language, but the discourse-specific norms established in those model languages. With a concrete example, I will show that some such ‘innovations’ may indeed be the immediate result of an individual translation, but that, in the majority of cases, such innovations tend to give evidence of an attempt to preserve specific discourse norms.


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