From Monks' Jokes to Sages' Wisdom: The Joca Monachorum Tradition and the Irish Immacallam in dáThúarad

Charles D Wright

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The linguistic situation of medieval Europe has sometimes been characterized as one of diglossia: one learned language, Latin, was used for religion, law, and documents, while the various vernaculars were used in other linguistic registers. Informing the relationship between Latin and the vernaculars was the choice of Latin as the language of the Western Roman Empire and the Roman Church. This choice entailed the possibility of a shared literary culture and heritage across Europe, but also had consequences for access to that heritage. Scholarship on the Romance languages has contested the relevance of the term diglossia, and the divergence between written or spoken Latin and Romance is a subject of energetic debate. In other linguistic areas, too, questions have been voiced. How can one characterize the interaction between Latin and the various vernaculars, and between the various vernaculars themselves? To what extent could speakers from separate linguistic worlds communicate? These questions are fundamental for anyone concerned with communication, the transmission of learning, literary history, and cultural interaction in the Middle Ages. This volume contains contributions by historians, cultural historians, and students of texts, language, and linguistics, addressing the subject from their various perspectives but at the same time trying to overcome familiar disciplinary divisions.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication Spoken and Written Language
Subtitle of host publicationRelations between Latin and the Vernacular Languages in the Earlier Middle Ages
EditorsMary Garrison, A P Orbán, Marco Mostert
Place of PublicationTurnhout
Number of pages27
ISBN (Print)9782503507705
StatePublished - 2013

Publication series

NameUtrecht studies in medieval literacy


  • Latin language, Medieval and modern / Social aspects / Europe / History / To 1500 / Congresses
  • Multilingualism
  • Languages in contact / Europe / History / To 1500 / Congresses
  • Multilingualism / Europe / History / To 1500 / Congresses
  • Oral communication
  • Languages in contact
  • Written communication / Europe / History / To 1500 / Congresses
  • Latin language, Medieval and modern
  • Oral communication / Europe / History / To 1500 / Congresses
  • Written communication

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