Urban multilingualism in early modern England
Dr John Gallagher – School of History – University of Leeds
England in the sixteenth and seventeenth century was abuzz with languages. Cities like London, Norwich, and Canterbury were were home to migrant communities speaking a wide variety of languages, while English-speakers were increasingly keen to learn continental vernaculars at a moment when English was not yet a global lingua franca or a prestigious tongue. How did the early modern city manage multilingualism, and how did the experience of linguistic difference shape the lives of those who lived in it? This paper will explore the linguistic dynamics of early modern English urban communities, exploring the records of the migrants, teachers, and language-learners who populated early modern cities, and thinking about how individuals, communities, and authorities experienced and managed multilingual environments.
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