The proverb has been an underutilized resource in tracing the linguistic and intellectual cultures of the past. Making the fullest use of this material, this study, by Susan E. Deskis, is complex in its combination of philology, paroemiology, literary history, and sociolinguistics, ultimately reaching conclusions that are enlightening for both the literary and linguistic histories of medieval England. In the language ecology of England from about 1100 to about 1500, where English, French, and Latin compete for use, alliterative proverbs are marked not only by the choice of English as the language of expression but also because alliteration in Middle English connotes a conscious connection to the past. Alliterative Proverbs in Medieval England: Language Choice and Literary Meaning explores how that connection is exploited in various literary genres from school texts and sermons to romances and cycle plays.
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