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Normalisation (also spelt normalization) takes place when the orthography (or other aspects of the language) of a text is changed in order to make it correspond to a certain standard. This happened to early (i.e. pre-classical) Greek and Latin texts, which underwent a process of orthographical modernisation in the classical or later periods. This happened during the Roman Empire to certain Greek texts not originally written in classical Attic Greek, when Attic forms and inflection sometimes replaced other forms.

This also happened in the high Middle Ages to some texts which had been written or copied in the early Middle Ages. The language in some Latin and Greek texts which were copied in the early Middle Ages has in some cases been altered considerably in the transmission due to “vulgarisation” of the language of the original text. From around 800 there was a renaissance for classical studies in both Byzantium and in the West (in the West due to the Carolingian reform). As a result, the general knowledge about the classical forms of language improved during the following centuries. In the manuscripts to certain texts, we can see that some scribes tried to improve the language in the texts – especially in texts which had been “vulgarised” during the early Middle Ages. In the West, there was in the 10th and 11th centuries sometimes even a tendency to “correct” certain linguistic features, which were quite normal in late literary Latin, and to replace them with the corresponding classical expressions.

Certain texts – many technical handbooks but also some texts written by known historical persons – are thus affected by both “vulgarisation” (in the early Middle Ages) and “normalisation” (in the high Middle Ages).

In the course of the process of editing a text, especially when using computer-assisted methods to study its development and transmission, certain orthographical features of the text – such as the use of capital letters, use of ‘v’ instead of ‘u’, ‘c’ instead of ‘t’ and the versatile use of ‘e’, ‘ae’ and e caudata (ę) – may need to be unified, since such features are subject to much variation in the manuscript traditions. Even this may be referred to as “normalisation”.

Cf. Vulgarisation.


- Coleman, Robert. 1999. “Vulgarism and normalization in the text of Regula Sancti Benedicti.” In: Latin vulgaire – Latin tardif V: Actes du Ve Colloque International sur le latin vulgaire et tardif, Heidelberg, 5-8 septembre 1997, eds. Hubert Petersmann and Rudolph Kettemann, pp. 345-356. Bibliothek der klas­sischen Altertumswissen­schaften N.F. 2: 105. Heidelberg: Winter.
- Haverling, Gerd V. M. 2008. “On Variation in Syntax and Morphology in Late Latin texts.” In: Latin vulgaire – Latin tardif VIII: Actes du VIIIe Colloque International sur le latin vulgaire et tardif, Oxford, 6-9 septembre 2006, ed. Roger Wright, pp. 351-360. Hildesheim, Zürich & New York: Olms-Weidmann.
- Pasquali, Giorgio. 1952. Storia della tradizione e critica del testo. 2nd edition. Firenze: Le Monnier, pp. 17 fn 2, 18, 118-123, 142, 189.
- Reynolds, L. D., and Nigel G. Wilson. 1974. Scribes and Scholars. A Guide to the Transmission of Greek and Latin Literature. 2nd edition. Oxford: Clarendon Press, p. 41.

In other languages

DE: Normalisierung
FR: normalisation
IT: normalizzazione



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