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2012 | 1 | 7-12

Article title

Old Frisian and Anglo-Saxon Legal Texts. A Stylistic Comparison


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The main focus of the paper is to deliver the linguistic and lexical comparison of fragments of Germanic legal corpus; Anglo-Saxon legal texts: The Laws of Alfred and Ine, and Old Frisian: Seventeen statutes and Twenty-four land laws from First Riustring Codex. These two groups of texts provide certain legal limitations, however are of slightly different structure. Old Frisian laws are, most of the time, the result of analysis of individual cases which are later on generalized, whereas Anglo-Saxon legal codes are of more organized form, prepared for promulgation by one authority. The paper contrasts the lexical choices done by the scribes, especially the level of formality of the language, structures of the sentences, whether they are organized in a dialog or prescriptive vs. proscriptive form, as well as the sophistication and abstractness of the words and phrases. Furthermore, the styles of the texts are compared and analyzed with the main focus on the usage of the diff erent text types. Thus, the presence of the descriptive, narrative or argumentative elements in the texts is taken into consideration while presenting the differences and similarities between them. The paper aims at showing the variety of stylistic methods used within the same Germanic linguistic culture, as far as legal texts are concerned.


  • Poznań College of Business


  • Attenborough, Frederick Levi (1922) Th e Laws of the Earliest English Kings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Bautkan, Dirk (1996) A Concise Grammar of the Old Frisian Dialect of the First Riustring Manuscript. (NOWELE Supplement, 16). Odense: Odense University Press.
  • Bremmer, Rolf Hans (1998) Approaches to Old Frisian Philology. (Amsterdamer Beiträge zur Älteren Germanistic). Amsterdam: Rodopi.
  • Milton, Haight Turk ([1893] 1998) The Legal Code of Alfr ed the Great. Halle: Max Niemayer Verlag. Daniel P. O’Donnell Literary Embellishment in Old Frisian Legal Texts, Approaches to Old Frisian Philology. (Amsterdamer Beiträge zur Älteren Germanistic). Amsterdam: Rodopi.
  • Schwyter, Jürg R. (1996) Old English Legal Language: Th e Lexical Field of Th eft . (NOWELE Supplement, 15). Odense: Odense University Press.
  • Sterringa, Annemarth (1998) Widows in Medieval Frisia, Approaches to Old Frisian Philology. (Amsterdamer Beiträge zur Älteren Germanistic). Amsterdam: Rodopi.
  • Corpus of Old East Frisian Texts: (http://titus.unifrankfurt.de/texte/etcs/germ/afries/afrcorp/) (date of access December 12, 2011)
  • The Parker Chronicle and Laws (Corpus Christi College, Cambridge) (htt p://www8.georgetown.edu/departments/medieval/labyrinth/library/oe/texts/prose/laws.html) (date of access December 12, 2011)

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