Early Modern Scots in a Multilingual Setting Abroad and at Home

  • Joanna Kopaczyk (Speaker)

Activity: Academic talk or presentation typesInvited talk


This talk explores multilingualism in early modern Europe with focus on the Scots abroad and at home. In current linguistic scholarship, language contact phenomena, such as code-switching, have mostly been studied from a spoken-language perspective. In contrast, the relatively recent historical linguistic approach to multilingualism looks, necessarily, at written texts, which creates the need to adapt existing analytical frameworks. In this talk, I propose how a comprehensive outlook on written code-switching can be achieved, and explore switches between languages in documents pertaining to the largest early modern Scottish emigration - that to the seventeenth-century Poland-Lithuania. I look at excerpts from the Book of the Lublin Brotherhood to reveal traces of language assimilation, and move on to legal records from Cracow, where I trace functional differences between Latin, Polish and Scots. Legal records also provide an opportunity to explore multiple layers of discourse: from the words actually uttered in court to the written record composed by the scribe. Bringing the discussion back to the Scottish context, I apply the same perspective to witchcraft trial records from early modern Scotland, asking questions about the relationship between Scots and English in formal domains in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
Period16 Feb 2017
Event titleScottish History Seminar
Event typeSeminar
LocationEdinburgh, United KingdomShow on map


  • multilingualism
  • Scots
  • early modern period
  • Scottish History
  • Polish history
  • Latin