Contrastive multivariate analyses of the Middle Low German Flos unde Blankeflos tradition
Faculty of Arts. Linguistics and Literature
Neuphilologische Mitteilungen. - Helsinki
, p. 171-205
University of Antwerp
This article contributes to the quantitative study of scribal profiles in medieval manuscripts. Our case study is embedded within the methodological framework of the Middle English LALME research tradition, much of which was initiated by Angus McIntosh. In this field, recent studies and initiatives (like LAEME) are increasingly adopting the quantitative analysis of entire transcriptions (or at least substantial samples) of copies. However, the research practice associated with the analysis of scribal profiles in the LALME tradition seems to have been restricted to the domain of Middle English philology. That is a pity, as the insights obtained in this domain are relevant to other medieval languages as well. One interesting but still marginally treated language area is the Middle Low German region, which covers the current Eastern Netherlands, Northern Germany, Southern Scandinavia and the Baltic states. Among the infrequently transmitted Middle Low German literature, there is one literary text of which a sufficient number of parallel copies exist to conduct our analyses: Flos unde Blankeflos. Our approach is inspired by the use of character n-grams to model scribal orthographies, a promising approach that is clearly less time-consuming than the traditional questionnaire-based interrogation methods. Moreover, the method presented here requires no extensive prior research, thus making it interesting for a less studied, resource-scarce language like Middle Low German. Finally, the method is flexible in the sense that it is not determined in advance by a pre-selected list of questionnaire items. It is interesting to investigate parallel manuscripts of the same popular text, as such parallel witnesses are likely to reveal oppositions (e.g. orthographical) that are relevant within the manuscript culture under scrutiny.