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The early Middle English scribe: Sprach er wie er schrieb?

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Abstract

Written Middle English is not phonetic transcript. The sound-pattern is not directly known, but has to be reconstructed – from, among other things, written forms interpreted in the light of the particular spelling systems to which they belong. Pronunciation is an object of discovery, not a premiss: assumptions about the way (or ways) in which a written form was pronounced, ought not to be built in to the collection of the primary evidence. It does not follow that phonetic considerations are ruled out for subsequent interpretation. (Benskin 1991: 226)

References

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