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Latin in Medieval Britain$
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Richard Ashdowne and Carolinne White

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266083

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266083.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
Latin in Medieval Britain

Richard Ashdowne

Carolinne White

British Academy

The use of Latin in the medieval world is so fundamental a fact that it is commonly not remarked upon and rarely discussed in detail. Yet its continued use in Europe after the demise of the Roman Empire and the broad extent of that use are remarkable, not least because Latin was not a native language for any of its users. This introductory chapter sets out to demonstrate the vitality and importance of this Latin, with a particular focus on the contexts of its use and on Britain. It first sets out the chronological, geographical, and linguistic boundaries adopted for the volume (the Latin of Britain from the mid-6th century to the end of the 16th), and considers issues arising from them, especially from the inherently multilingual context for Medieval Latin in Britain. The use of Latin in Britain is discussed with regard to what it was used for and by whom, including questions of literacy and its use as an oral language. A brief discussion follows of previous work on Latin of the medieval period and of Britain in particular. The other chapters are discussed, highlighting the continuity with other Latins and adaptation to the circumstances of use.

Keywords:   Britain, Context, literacy, Medieval Latin, multilingualism, oral use

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