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Language, law and loanwords in early medieval Gaul: language contact and studies in Gallo-Romance phonology

On October 9th, Peter Alexander Kerkhof succesfully defended his doctoral thesis and graduated. The Leiden University Centre for Linguistics congratulates Peter Alexander on this great result.

Peter Alexander Kerkhof
09 October 2018
Leiden University Repository


This dissertation consists of an investigation of the historical and sociolinguistic implications of some of the linguistic data that have been preserved from Merovingian Gaul. The data that was investigated here mainly consisted of Romance and Germanic lexis, which is the outcome of earlier lexical exchange (borrowing) between Germanic, Romance and Celtic. The central aim of this dissertation was to provide an overview of the linguistic and extra-linguistic factors that were involved in this lexical exchange, and thereby contribute to our knowledge of the Merovingian vernaculars in particular and Merovingian society in general. On a more general level, this study provides an overview of how linguistic data might complement the archaeological and historical frameworks, that are used to understand the transition from Roman to Merovingian Gaul. Special attention is paid to the Merovingian redactions of the Salic Law, both as a unique historical witness to everyday life in post-Roman Gaul as well as being a unique linguistic witness in its preservation of the Old Frankish Malberg glosses. Additionally, this dissertation provides an overview of Pre-French sound change and its relation to Merovingian Latin.

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