Spacing in three manuscript texts of Sawles Warde: Its synchronic, historical and theoretical implications

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The present paper investigates (non-)spacing between words in the three manuscript texts of Sawles Warde (Bodley, Royal, and Titus). The aims of the study are to give a synchronic description of how space is inserted or suppressed in the texts and to gain insight into historical implications of the varying practice of spacing in the Early Middle English period. The findings from a synchronic point of view include that the EME scribe's sense of what we would naturally regard as word division differed from ours. Patterns of spacing, however, differed greatly from text to text or from scribe to scribe. One striking fact is that while space insertion is roughly of equal frequency across the Sawles Warde texts, space suppression is twice as frequent in Royal as in Bodley and Titus, so that scribe Royal can be called a typical "word joiner". Closely studied, his patterns prove to be not totally random but dependent to some extent on a number of factors including lexis, prefixation, compounding, and syntactic environments. From a historical point of view, the study suggests that there was a recognizable shift between Middle and Modern English in the way that language was viewed and analysed (whether consciously or not), from a more phonological outlook to a more morphosyntactic one.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLinguistic Variation in the Ancrene Wisse, Katherine Group and Wooing Group
Subtitle of host publicationEssays Celebrating the Completion of the Parallel Text Edition
PublisherPeter Lang AG
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9783631747865
ISBN (Print)9783631747858
Publication statusPublished - 2018 May 31


  • Manuscripts
  • Punctuation
  • Sawles Warde
  • Spacing
  • Word division

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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