Darwin-L Message Log 2:67 (October 1993)

Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences

This is one message from the Archives of Darwin-L (1993–1997), a professional discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences.

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<2:67>From GA3704@SIUCVMB.SIU.EDU  Mon Oct 11 21:57:44 1993

Date: Mon, 11 Oct 93 21:56:08 CST
From: "Margaret E. Winters" <GA3704@SIUCVMB.SIU.EDU>
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Subject: manuscript polymorphism

Let me add another kind of variation (other than interlinear
glosses/variants of the kind that Bob O'Hara talked about
in the original posting) to the discussion of the parallels
between manuscript transmission and stemmata and genetics.
In the edition of Old French mss at least, there is an editorial
convention that the words at the rhyme can be more safely identified
as being passed on accurately from the original version, while
words in the interior of the line (I'm talking about 11th and 12th
century rhymed epic and courtly romances which were the preponderant
literary forms in Old French at the time) could not be so identified
and could much more plausibly be the reworking of a scribe.  Under-
lying this notion was the idea that scribes would respect the
reading at the end of the line since a change in one line meant
a corresponding change in the following line which rhymed with
it - just too much trouble!  There certainly are ms versions
of texts which show radically different dialectal traits in the
interior and at the end of the line.

Does this strengthen the parallels with genetic transmission
or go off in an entirely different direction?
           Margaret Winters

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