Initial position in the Middle English verse line
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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OriginalversjonThaisen, J. (2014) Initial position in the Middle English verse line. English studies, 95(4), pp. 500–513 10.1080/0013838X.2014.924275
This paper establishes that spelling forms collected from initial position in the Middle English verse line have unique characteristics, and it discusses why this is so. The paper first addresses scribal copying practices, before describing the utility of letter-based N-gram models in objectively comparing scribal copies in terms of their spelling. Testing of models trained on a corpus totalling ten manuscripts demonstrates that initial position regularly prompted scribes to suppress their tendency to introduce their own spelling forms in favour of replicating those encountered in their exemplars. The discussion attributes this behaviour to the operation of two mechanisms. One mechanism is psycholinguistic in origin, while the other is rooted in manuscripts’ production and so implies a codicological dimension to spelling variation.
This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in English Studies in July 2014, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/0013838X.2014.924275