On the Grammar and Rhetoric of language mixing in Piers Plowman




Halmari, Helena

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Neuphilologische Mitteilungen


In excerpt (1) below, the Dreamer of Langland’s Piers Plowman is expressing his dissatisfaction with friars; the passage is a typical example of what is often called “macaronic language” - a conventionalized style where two languages (here Middle English and Latin, or a few times French) are mixed in a happy combination for fairly well-documented rhetorical purposes. In line (4) the Latin prepositional phrase In fame et frigore conjoins the Middle English NP flappes of scourges; lines (5) and (12-13) exemplify full clauses, with Biblical associations, in Latin. That Langland’s virtuoso combining of Latin and English is a result of careful planning is shown by his occasional, extremely pointed metalinguistic comments,


Article originally published in Neuphilologische Mitteilungen in 2002.


Language Mixing, Piers Plowman, macaronic language, metalinguistic


Halmari, Helena and Adams, Robert. 2002. On the grammar and rhetoric of language mixing in Piers Plowman. Neuphilologische Mitteilungen CIII:1. 33–50.