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Subject Linguistics

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631214816.1999.x


In medieval Europe, the room in a monastery in which copyists ( clerici or clerks) wrote manuscripts from an exemplar. As of the mid-ninth century virtually every monastery and abbey had its own scriptorium. The scriptorium was the centre of European manuscript culture and the main agency of text reproduction before printing. It was a place of highly regarded and specialized work, usually shared by several copyists. Although most scribes were members of the monastery, secular specialists were sometimes brought in to carry out certain duties, such as illumination. The scriptorium was under the direction of an armarius who was charged with supervising the work and dispensing P archment , ink, pens, knives and other implements necessary for the scribes’ work. It was also his responsibility to administer the strict rules that governed conduct in the scriptorium. Silence was imperative so as to ensure maximum concentration and thus avoid copying errors. During working hours standardized gestures were used for communication. Work in the scriptoria was limited to daylight hours, artificial light being forbidden in order to guard against the risk of fire. Manuscripts produced by copyists of the scriptoria are called ‘scribal copies’ as distinct from those written or dictated by the author. Reading Banks 1989. ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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