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Mediating the word: language and dialects in the British and Irish Reformations

Felicity Heal;
Country: United Kingdom
Translating the Scriptures into the vernacular was a primary concern of Protestant reformers. This led to worries about the precise language-form in which they should be made accessibly to lay folk. This article situates such evangelical debates within contemporary understanding of the nature and role of native tongues. Tudor and Stuart governments sometimes saw English as a tool of political control; humanists questioned the 'copiousness' of the vernacular; the Celtic tongues were readily identified with barbarity; the status of the written word might be contaminated by the use of dialect. Translators and authors sought to address these concerns, with great success in England, Lowland Scotland and Wales, but much less effectively in Gaelic-speaking Ireland and Scotland.

History, History of Britain and Europe

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