Levels of Granularity: Balancing Literary and Linguistic Interests in the Editing of Medieval Texts

in Philology Matters!
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Abstract

This chapter will discuss the levels of granularity in the editing of medieval texts, introducing the concept of multi-level editions. The concept of granularity refers to the degree of accuracy in the transcription of a manuscript source. In phonology, it is customary to draw a distinction between narrow and broad transcriptions, and in the field of textual editing one can draw a similar distinction between a close rendering of the source, keeping the orthography in all its details, and a fully normalised rendering of the source. Multi-level editions are editions which represent the text on more than one level of granularity, sometimes on two levels, sometimes on three or even more levels. In this chapter, the tradition in Old Norse philology of normalising the orthography of edited texts will be discussed and exemplified in some detail. Normalising the orthography proves to be especially useful when rendering texts from fragmented sources and, at one level, displaying them in a unified linguistic idiom. The chapter concludes with a brief discussion of how linguistic annotation can add a new layer of granularity to the sources, making texts more accessible to a variety of users, whether they are linguists or literary scholars.

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