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With kind regards: 22 November 2022

Tuesday 22 November 2022
With kind regards: Convention, standards and breaking the rules in letter-writing
University Library
Witte Singel 27
2311 BG Leiden

This event is part of the series "With kind regards: convention, standards and breaking the rules in letter-writing". For more information, please click the button below.

With kind regards: Convention, standards and breaking the rules in letter-writing

Breaking letter conventions under multilingual pressure in late fifteenth-century English correspondence

Juan Camilo Conde Silvestre (University of Murcia)

This presentation will focus on the effects of multilingualisn in a series of late fifteenth-century English letters, especially the collection known as the Cely letters (1472-1488). The Celys were a merchant family based in London whose members exchanged business and personal letters with their associates (mainly mercers and wool producers) and with dependants working for them as factors at Calais: an English outpost in France since 1346 where staplers were forced by law to negotiate the sale of their products in the marts of the Low Countries. The majority of the letters in the collection are written in monolingual English; however, there is no doubt that they were produced and received in the resilient multilingual context of late fifteenth-century England, where written French still circulated extensively, as well as in the specific multilingual context of business transactions in London, Calais and the Low Countries where oral contacts between English, French and Dutch (as well as other languages) must have been the norm. This means that their authors were sensitive to other languages they were in contact with and this was often reflected in their writing. In my presentation I will consider the bilingual abilities of some of the correspondents as well as possible traces of French and Dutch in some of the ritualistic and formulaic conventions of the letters. I will draw instances of variation triggered by multilingual influence and will also notice some conditioning factors such as the location of the letter writer and his/her recipient or their respective social status and age.


The petition of the Elephantine Judean Community (Egypt, 5th c. BCE)

Margaretha Folmer (Leiden University)

Near the end of the 5th c. BCE, during the Persian rule of the Near East, local leaders of the Judean community at Elephantine in southern Egypt wrote a petition in Aramaic to the authorities in Palestine, asking for permission to rebuild their temple. The petition was found in different versions and as such gives valuable information on how such a document was drafted. In this contribution I will examine material aspects and specific formulas of the petition and the extent to which this letter agrees with other Aramaic letters from Elephantine and from the Persian empire at large.


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