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Roman and Runic in the Anglo-Saxon Inscriptions at Monte Sant’Angelo: A Sociolinguistic Approach

Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift
Författare Michelle Waldispühl
Publicerad i Futhark: International Journal of Runic Studies
Volym 9–10
Sidor 135-158
ISSN 1892-0950
Publiceringsår 2020
Publicerad vid Institutionen för språk och litteraturer
Sidor 135-158
Språk en
Länkar futhark-journal.com/issues/vol-9-10...
Ämnesord Anglo-Saxon runic inscriptions, medieval graffiti, sociolinguistics of writing, multilingual writing, language contact, personal names, identity, medieval pilgrimage
Ämneskategorier Jämförande språkvetenskap och lingvistik, Engelska språket, Latin


This paper addresses the Anglo-Saxon personal name inscriptions at Monte Sant’​Angelo in Southern Italy from a sociolinguistic angle. The main interest lies in the mix between Roman and runic writing and its inter­pretation in the light of indi­vidual literacy and the cultural context of medieval pilgrimage. Four from a total of five inscriptions were written in runes; two of these show sig­nif­icant in­fluence from Anglo-Saxon scribal practices and Roman epi­graphic writ­ing. The fifth Anglo-Saxon name is written entirely in Roman letters. Draw­ing on theo­retical approaches from modern sociolinguistic studies of multi­lin­gualism in writ­ing, this study suggests that the use of mixed Roman-runic prac­tices reflects the biscriptal background of the respective carvers and was applied in situ to indi­vidualize the inscriptions. However, not all the in­scrip­tions show such a mix; hence either skill or personal preference varied among the pilgrims. The prac­tice of mixing evident in the runic inscriptions does not fully correspond to previ­ously described features of multilingual and multi­scrip­tal writing, which is why a new term, “heterographia”, has been coined in this study to include mix­ing not only in a language and a writing system, but also on a graphetic and ortho­graphic level. Finally, the use of runes or Roman script for one’s personal name is inter­preted as an expression of social identity dependent on the person’s social embedding.

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