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Aelfred mec heht gewyrcan: sociolinguistic concepts in the study of Alfredian English


This study reconstructs the Alfredian network as consisting of twelve actors. This network is termed a coalition, within which a cluster of Mercian actors is further hypothesised. Historical sources and charter evidence suggest that Mercian scribes worked for West Saxon kings and may even have taken part in the establishment of a proto-chancery at the royal court. This writing office can be conjectured to have ties with the Alfredian coalition and described as a community of practice. The whole sociolinguistic reconstruction is supported by three case studies: Angelcynn ‘the English people’ and here ‘band, troop’ in historical-political genres, and gretan freondlice in epistolary genres. The diffusion of these Alfredian norms across time, place and genres is linked to the royal chancery and its distribution channels, as well as to the diachronic sustainability of linguistic practices within professional discourse communities and their archives.

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