An analysis of the punctuation of the Middle English "Letter of Ipocras" in London, Wellcome Library, MS 405

Teresa Marqués-Aguado

Abstract


Punctuation in early English has been traditionally considered to lack consistency and systematicity, as shown in the relevant literature. Yet, recent research has uncovered that individual texts followed particular punctuation practices regarding signs and functions that were relatively systematic and consistent, even if they were also quite frequently text-based. In line with this, the present article explores the punctuation practice found in a copy of the Middle English medical text called Letter of Ipocras, the one held in London, Wellcome Library, MS 405. This contribution first reviews research on punctuation practices in Middle English texts and discusses the functions that historical punctuation has been reported to perform. Then, a cursory description of both the manuscript and the text is offered. Next, the punctuation signs found in the text are described and discussed, and their various functions at different levels illustrated with the help of examples. The article closes with a reflection on the global function of the pointing practice of the text, which veers towards the grammatical and pragmatic functions.

Keywords


Middle English; medieval manuscripts; MS Wellcome 405; Letter of Ipocras; punctuation; function

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18172/jes.3571

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© Universidad de La Rioja, 2013

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