Volume 20, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1566-5852
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9854
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This study analyses two Old English formulae (‘greets in a friendly manner’) and (‘I make it known to you that’), which form a salutation–notification template in a document type called . It connects the emergence of this formulaic set to previous oral traditions of delivering news and messages, and to their reflection in dictation practices from at least the time of King Alfred. Their later routinisation and standardisation is seen as a factor brought about by the centralised production of royal writs and their subsequent adoption as templates in monastic scriptoria across the country. These templates continue to be recycled in the early Middle English period both in English and in Latin writs, ultimately shifting to Latin-only documents during the reign of William the Conqueror. Although this shift does not hinder the continuity of the selected bureaucratic template into the later Middle Ages, it affects the structure of the discourse community associated with the chancery norms, consolidating its core (those literate in Latin who are involved in production and preservation of writs) and marginalising its periphery (English speakers who used to make up the informed audience for writs in local courts).


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): chancery; discourse communities; Latin; Old English; writs
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