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AHRC South, West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership: Collaborative Doctoral Award: French Influence on the English Legal Language of the Chancery in the First Half of the Fifteenth Century


Research Field



The AHRC South, West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership 2 (SWW-DTP2) invites applications for a Collaborative Doctoral Award. For more information please visit the SWW-DTP 2 site at

The documents from the late medieval Chancery (the governmental secretariat) have been scrutinised by linguists mainly in relation to the standardisation of English, as the influence of their linguistic features on this process and their interaction with urban vernaculars of major regional centres is still unclear. However, these documents remain to be explored with regard to the interface between French and English linguistic practices, an approach that has borne much fruit in literary texts (e.g. Jefferson & Putter 2013).

The government was at the core of medieval England’s multilingual culture. While administrative processes had been dominated by French and Latin for most of the post-Conquest period, English started to assert itself as a language of government administration in the late fourteenth century. As scribes switched to English, they imported into their mother tongue many of the same legal phrases and words that they had used when writing these same kinds of documents in French. Durkin (2014) has shown that most French loanwords entered the English language between 1350 and 1500, but no work has been done on the contribution to this process by the switch from French to English in government administration. This project aims to explore the lexical debts to French legal practices in early fifteenth-century Chancery documents. Thus, the project will bring together historical linguistics, historical sociolinguistics and the understanding of the mechanics of government; and will further complement and advance current work on the interaction between the two languages in specific lexico-semantic domains.

What is funded

The studentship awardcovers tuition fees and a maintenance grant at the RCUK-rate. Normal residency requirements apply.


Applicants should have a first or strong upper second-class honours degree in a relevant field, and should normally have, or be studying for, a Master’s degree or similar postgraduate qualification.


Organisation name
Cardiff University
Organisation Country
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