The round allograph of <r> in late Middle English

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Adam Mickiewicz University

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This paper discusses glyphs of the 2-shaped or “round” allograph of the grapheme <r> with a tag protruding from the lower part of the stem, asking whether their distribution in a corpus of some 600 late Middle English texts can be meaningfully related to these texts’ localisation in A Linguistic Atlas of Late Mediaeval English. It discusses what localisation expresses, and uses regression modelling to show that there is no co-variation between the texts’ paleography and their orthography, although there is a measure of correlation between them. The evidence in favour is that the quantitative analysis identifies localisation in northings as a predictor of the occurrence of the tagged form of the allograph, which occurs at a higher frequency in texts localised below the Midlands line at c. 300 northings. The evidence against is the form’s scattered distribution according to the localisation variable where co-variation would imply a more clear-cut concentration of points, and also the moderate success at explaining the form’s distribution by means of variables known to explain orthographic variation.



The author gratefully acknowledges a residential fellowship at the Netherlands Institute of Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences. The author thanks the anonymous reviewers for this journal for their helpful comments. The paper is associated with the Middle English Scribal Texts programme at the University of Stavanger.


Middle English, orthography, paleography, regression modeling


Studia Anglica Posnaniensia, vol. 53 (2018), pp. 129-144


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Uniwersytet im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Biblioteka Uniwersytetu im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Ministerstwo Nauki i Szkolnictwa Wyższego