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Reviewed by:
  • Manual of Anglo-Normanby Ian Short
  • David Trotter
Manual of Anglo-Norman. By I anS hort. 2nded. (Occasional Publications Series, 8.) Oxford: Anglo-Norman Text Society, 2013. 178 pp.

This is a welcome second edition of a very useful work, not least because it has a more durable hardback binding (my copy of the first edition was beginning to suffer from over-use). Despite his modesty in the Foreword, Ian Short’s Manualdoes more than provide a synthesis of Mildred K. Pope: importantly, it distinguishes orthography and phonetics, the systematic confusion of which seriously vitiates From Latin to Modern French(p. 42). These aspects, together with morphology, remain central to the book as they did for Pope. This edition makes some changes to its predecessor: it adds a useful, detailed excursus on the Chanson de Roland’s language, and updates the indications of recent work on Anglo-Norman with some important post-2007 publications such as the collective volumes edited by Jocelyn Wogan-Browne ( Language and Culture in Medieval Britain: The French of England, c.1100–c.1500(Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer, 2009)) and Richard Ingham ( The Anglo-Norman Language and its Contexts(Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer, 2010)). Lexis and syntax still get rather limited treatment but it would be unreasonable to expect a book like this to cover everything. The Introduction is in my view an [End Page 229]excellent and wide-ranging survey of the status and evolution of Anglo-Norman, and it is to be hoped that it will replace outdated accounts in other sources (and online). My only real quibble remains the concept of Standard Medieval French, defined as ‘dialectally unmarked Medieval French as standardised by philologists and commonly used in histories of the language, grammar books, and in dictionary lemmata’ (p. 26n). An excerpt of Lanvalis rewritten in this reconstructed variety in the appendix (p. 167). The concern is that there will be readers who miss the footnote (or fail to read it carefully enough) and, as a result, end up believing that there was such a thing as Standard Medieval French. Perhaps, like God, the fact that it did not exist was why philologists took it upon themselves to invent it — and it has it uses; but the designation still risks misleading the uninformed, who would in every other respect do well to read this manual assiduously.

David Trotter
University of Aberystwyth

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Additional Information

ISSN
1468-2931
Print ISSN
0016-1128
Pages
pp. 229-230
Launched on MUSE
2015-05-11
Open Access
No
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