Abstract

The Tower of Babel in Genesis 11 offers the most powerful paradigm for linguistic divisions as they harden into language barriers and become markers of human alienation and mutual incomprehension. This essay discusses medieval examples of these barriers, both literary and historical, from a variety of sources including Chaucer. It focuses on several topics: issues of translation, including biblical translation; the perceived contrast between supposedly fixed languages such as Latin and ever-changing vernaculars; and vernacular languages, especially French and English, in their relations to one another.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1543-0383
Print ISSN
0039-3738
Pages
pp. 415-452
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-10
Open Access
No
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