The First and Second Continuations of the Peterborough Chronicle

Before we look at part of the entry for 1137, here is a list of the some of the changes already present in the first scribe’s work (cf. chap. 3):

1. There is a regular weakening of vowels in non-tonic syllables to the central vowel [a]:

Examples: gridode > gridede; pxt > pet; comon > comen; denisca > densce; secgan > sxgen (sxcgen); cuman > cumen; huscarlas > huscarles

2. There is strong evidence of a confusion of gender:

Examples: pa densce biscop (West Saxon se denisca biscop), in which the feminine accusative singular definite article pa has been used for the masculine se; feonlandes (WS feonland) where the plural inflection reclassifies the noun as masculine rather than neuter; pone mynstre (WS pxt mynster), where the masculine singular accusative form of the definite article pone is used instead of the neuter singular accusative form pxt; reafes (WS reaf), where like feonlandes the neuter noun reaf has been reclassified as masculine.

3. The reanalysis of cases resulting in the loss of the dative:

Examples: of eall pa feonlandes (WS of eallumpamfeonlandum), where the preposition of, which normally governs the dative case, now governs the nominative/accusative; an frencisce abbot (WS anum frenciscum abbote) as the indirect object of the verb; to bone abbot (WS to bam abbote), where the accusative case substitutes for the dative.

This is just a brief selection from one or two entries, but even here we can see the continuing disappearance of the dative case and the tendency for the category of masculine nouns to attract neuter and even feminine nouns. The developments noted in the Will of Ketel appear to have progressed further here. If we now look at the language of the second scribe, the same tendencies become even more noticeable, and the language seems to have already gone over the breach between Anglo-Saxon and Middle English.[1]

A.D. 1137 Dis g*re for fie king Stephne ofer s* to Normandi; and ther was underfangen, forfii 5at hi wenden 5at he schulden ben alswic alse the eom wes, and for he hadde get his tresor; ac he todeld it and scatered sotlice. Micel hadde Henri king gadered gold and syluer, and na god ne dide him for his saule fiarof. Ea fie king Stephne

def. article in place of se

digraph for

def. article in place of se +

digraph for borrowing from French

remnant of the dative + def. article in place of se to Englaland com, foa macod he his gadering at Oxenford. har nam he foe biscop Roger of Serebyri and Alexander biscop of Lincol and te canceler, his neues, and dide slle in

prisun til hi iafen up here castles. ha foe

suikes undergston 5at he milde man was and softe and god, and na justice ne dide, foa diden hi alle wunder. Hi hadden him manred maked and athes suoren, ac hi nan treuthe ne heolden. Alle hi wsron forsworen and here treothes forloren, for sueric rice man his castles makede and agsnes him heolden; and fylden foe land ful of castles. Hi

suencten swyde foe wrecce men of fee land mid castelweorces; foa foe castles waren

maked, foa fylden hi mid deovles and yuele men. ha namen hi foa men foe hi wenden 5at ani god hefden, bathe be nihtes and be daies, carlmen and wimmen, and diden heom in prisun and pined heom efter gold and syluer untellendliche pining; for ne waren nsvre nan martyrs swa pined alse hi wsron. Me henged up bi thefet and smoked

heom mid ful smoke. Me henged bi the feumbes other bi the hefed and hengen

bryniges on her fet. Me dide cnotted strenges abuton here hsved and wrythen it 5at it gsde to fee harnes. Hi diden heom in

quarterne foar nadres and snakes and pades wsron inne, and drapen heom swa. Sume hi diden in crucethus—5at is, in an ceste foat was scort and nareu and undep—and dide scsrpe stanes foerinne 5at him brscon alle foe limes. In mani of fee castles wsron lof no dative

no dative | def. art. in place of feone def. art. in place of feone +

digraph for borrowing from French | s-plural

borrowing from French x2 | s-plural |

def. article in place of fea


borrowing from French

s-plural |

digraph for

digraph for borrowing from French+s-plural def. article in place of feat | borrowing from French+ s-plural | no dative def. article in place of fea | def. article in place of feam

no dative | borrowing from French | s-plural | def. article in place of fea | borrowing from French + s-plural s-plural | no dative

digraph for | no dative | no dative

borrowing from French | no dative

borrowing from French + s-plural def. article in place of fea +

digraph for | no dative def. article in place of fea | no dative s-plural | def. article in place of feam | no dative s-plural s-plural

def. article in place of fea | s-plural | no dative

borrowing from French | s-plural x3 s-plural

def. article in place of fea x2 | no dative | borrowing from French+ s-plural and grin; 5at waron rachenteges 5at twa oher thre men hadden onoh to baron onne, hat was swa maked, hat is, fastned to an beom—and diden an scarp iren abuton ha mannes throte and his hals. Mani husen hi drapen mid hungxr. I ne can ne I ne mai tellen all he wunder ne alle he pines 5at hi diden wrecce men on pis land; and 5at lastede ha xix wintre wile Stephne was king, and avre it was werse and werse. Hi laiden galdes on the tunes avre um wile, and

clepeden it “tenserie”. ha he wrecce men ne hadden nammore to gyven, ha raveden hi and brendon all the tunes, Sat wel hu myhtes

faren al a daies fare, schuldest thu nevre finden man in tune sittende ne land tiled. ha was corn dare, and flesc and case and butere, for nan was o pe land. Wrecce men sturven of hungxr. Sume ieden on almes ha waren sum wile rice men; sum flugen ut of lande. Wes navre gat mare wreccehed on land, ne navre hehen men werse ne diden han hi diden, for ouer sihon ne forbaren nouher circe ne circe-iard oc namen al he god hat harinne was, and brenden syhen he circe and al tegadere. Ne hi ne forbaren biscopes land ne abbotes ne preostes ac raveden munekes and clerekes, and avric man oher he overmyhte. Gif twa men ohhe hrie coman ridend to an tun, al he tunscipe flugan for heom, wenden hat he waron raveres. he biscopes and leredmen heom cursede avre, oc was heom naht harof, for hi weron al forcursad and forsworen and forloren. War-sa me tilede, he erhe ne bar nan corn, for he land was al fordon mid swilce dxdes, and hi saden openlice hat Crist slep and his halechen. Swilc, and mare hanne we cunnen sain, we holeden nientiene wintre for ure sinnes.


digraph for <^/5> no dative

digraph for <^/5> no dative

def. article in place of pa x2 | s-plural no dative | no dative

s-plural | def. article in place of pa+

| digraph for <^/5> | s-plural

def. article in place of pa def. article in place of pa+

digraph for <^/5> | s-plural digraph for <^/5>

remnant of a dative

def. article in place of pam no dative | s-plural remnant of a dative no dative

def. article in place of pmt def. article in place of pa

s-plural | borrowing from Latin+ s-plural

no dative | def. article in place of pa

s-plural | def. article in place of pa | s-plural

def. article in place of pa

def. article in place of pmt | no dative


s-plural | no dative

In the analysis of this text extract I have focused on those features of simplification evident in the first text (plus also the brief comments on scribe 1 of the Peterborough Chronicle), but I have also added a change that appears to be under way in this scribe’s orthography: the substitution of <ф/3> with the digraph

,u and borrowings from French and Latin, of which there are eight in all: prisun, canceler, justice, castle, quarterne, clerek, tresor, and martyr. The first significant point to comment on is the almost complete disappearance of the inflections in the definite article system, which leads to a wholesale breakdown of the system of grammatical gender. In this text extract there are, in all, 30 tokens of a definite article, but only three of these retain the former inflections. So we see 90 percent occurrences of pe, the, or te and only 10 percent occurrences of inflected definite articles in this short text extract alone. If we were to take a longer extract, the 10 percent might even dwindle to around 5 percent or less. The breakdown of the gender system is also reflected in the large number of plurals ending in -s, 31 out 50, making 52.5 percent in this extract alone. The other 47.5 percent consist of occurrences of umlaut in the frequently used nouns man>men and fot>fet, which make up 13 of the 19 non-s-plurals. Apart from these we have wunder twice, wintre twice, quarterne once and halechen once.

Nouns and noun phrases in the dative case have almost disappeared with the exception of the personal pronouns, the only remnants being the -e inflection on the nouns saule (for his saule), lande (ut of lande) and tune (in tune). I do not wish to comment on whether the almost wholesale introduction of the into the article system hastened the demise of the case system or whether the breakdown of the case system encouraged the introduction of the. However, the virtual disappearance of the dative is a very marked feature of the second scribe’s language. It would seem, therefore, that this is only the continuation of a process that had begun well before any language contact situations involving Anglo-Norman French and Anglo-Saxon were likely on English soil and, judging by Ketel’s will, long after the assimilation of that section of the population of the Danelaw speaking the Danish variety of Old Norse. So even though a koi'neisation of the varieties of Anglo-Saxon spoken in the Danelaw and the Danish variety of Old Norse probably resulted in new dialects of Anglo-Saxon with a relatively high percentage of lexemes from Old Norse used in everyday contacts between the two sections of the population, the koineisation process seems only to have speeded up the mor- pho-phonological simplification of Anglo-Saxon. My conclusion is that it is more than a little bold to suggest creolisation here.

One problem remains, however. Why is it that the first scribe’s language in the Peterborough Chronicle was much closer to Anglo-Saxon than the second scribe’s when a period of only 20 years separates the end of the First Continuation from the end of the Second? If we consider the breakdown of the discourse archive discussed in chapter 3, this problem is not insoluble. [2]

Scribe 1 was given the job of copying out a version (or possible two versions) of the ASC that was written in a form of Anglo-Saxon that attempted to reproduce the quasi-standard West Saxon. He also continued after 1080, which led us to posit in chapter 3 that he may have had access to a version that was continued into the twelfth century but was almost completely destroyed in the fire at Ashburnham House (possibly the H ms.). The entries after 1121 were obviously his own (he was then the author), but he attempted to reproduce the no longer existent “standard” model till the end. If that was the case, his use of language in face-to-face instantiations of emergent language contact might have been relatively similar to that of the second scribe.

Scribe 2, on the other hand, was most definitely more than just a scribe. He was the author of a colourful and moving narrative of Stephen’s reign, which lay completely outside the dominant discourse archive. The amount of inscribed orality that we identified in his reporting of events is considerably higher than anywhere else in the ASC, and we are justified in positing that the difference between his oral and his written language production could not have been that great.

  • [1] Single underlining indicates occurrences of the uninflected definite article pe in place of an inflectedform. Double underlining th indicates the digraph th used in place of p/d. Thick underlining (e.g. tresor) indicates borrowings from French or Latin. Bold typeface with single underlining indicates use of the s-plural (e.g.sinnes). Noun phrases (mostly in prepositional phrases) in italics show loss of the dative case.
  • [2] This substitution even occurs once in Ketel’s will, which has Thorpe instead of Porpe.
< Prev   CONTENTS   Source   Next >