Title Background

A Scribal Translation of <i>Piers Plowman</i>

A Scribal Translation of Piers Plowman

The text of BL MS Harley 2376 (C-text siglum N) represents a scribal translation of the poem, in which the tendency to regularize word order and to avoid inflected and archaic forms converts the language of the poem into something more closely resembling a contemporary spoken idiom. While the resulting “easy-reading” form of the poem may have no literary or textual use, the patterns of scribal alteration can provide indications of its intended audience: a Herefordshire patron of some wealth, of limited book-learning, perhaps with some connections to Lollardy. The N translation highlights the importance of distinguising between regionally significant variation and variation that reflects sociolinguistic factors. Includes appendix citing replacement of lexical items by the scribal translator.