As Gaston Paris stated for the first time, in textual criticism a clear distinction should be made between "the analysis of readings" (i.e. the substance of the text, in Contini's terminology) and the "analysis of forms" (i.e. the linguistic features of the text): "Les leçons sont établies sur la classification des manuscrits, les formes sont restituées d'après l'appréciation critique de la langue du poète" (1872: VII, "The readings are established based on the classification of the manuscripts, the forms are restituted according to a critical appreciation of the poet's language").

If Lachmann's method often allows to reconstruct, with various degrees of certainty, the original readings of a given text, it is much more difficult, and to a large extent even impossible, to reconstruct its original "form" (i.e. orthography, punctuation..., see: normalisation). For an adaptation of this principle to texts written in Middle Arabic, see La Spisa 2012.

A further distinction should be made, within the analysis of forms, between what Trovato calls "core" ("the original language of a text") and "patina" ("the linguistic sedimentation that is certainly due to the copyists") (Trovato 2014, 231; see also Leonardi 2014, 45-52). Cf. vulgarisation.


– La Spisa, Paolo. 2012. "Perspectives ecdotiques pour textes en moyen arabe: l'exemple des traités théologique de Sulaymān Al-Ġazzī", in: Zack, Liesbeth - Schippers, Arie (eds.), Middle Arabic and Mixed Arabic. Diachrony and Synchrony. Leiden: Brill, 187-208.
– Leonardi, Lino (ed.). 2014. Gianfranco Contini. Filologia. Bologna: il Mulino.
– Paris, Gaston. 1872. La vie de saint Alexis. Poème du XIe siècle et renouvellements des XIIe, XIIIe et XIVe siècles. Paris: Franck.
– Trovato, Paolo. 2014. Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Lachmann’s Method: A Non-Standard Handbook of Genealogical Textual Criticism in the Age of Post-Structuralism, Cladistics, and Copy-Text. Foreword by Michael D. Reeve. Firenze: edizioni.

In other languages

DE: Analyse der Formen
FR: analyse des formes
IT: analisi delle forme