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Discourse features of code-switching in legal reports in late medieval England

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Abstract

This study of code-switching in late medieval legal texts termed Year Books responds to research by Herbert Schendl and Laura Wright on medieval code-switching. Each concludes that code-switching constitutes registers or discourse modes within specific text-types. Year Books examined in this study similarly develop specific discourse strategies by switching between Latin and French to encode the reporting of pleading and procedure. The sequence of switches in the reports serves primarily to format and organise case reports and secondarily to differentiate legal commentary from procedure and pleading. Legal reports, though not official records and likely used for reference purposes, are nevertheless witness that code-switching is a formalised mode of discourse within the common law profession.

References

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