International Workshop on Sociolinguistic Variation in Historical Legal Texts from Britain (Université de Lausanne, 6-7 October 2023)


Place:  University of Lausanne, Switzerland

Dates:  6-7 October 2023

Plenary speakers: Dr. Peter Grund (Yale) and Prof. Merja Stenroos (Stavanger)

Organisers: Prof. Anita Auer (Lausanne) and Prof. Olga Timofeeva (Zurich)


Legal and administrative texts punctuated the history of the English language from the earliest period, e.g. Æthelberht’s code (c.600 AD), Domesday Book (1086), Magna Carta (1215), Provisions of Oxford (1258), etc. The development of the legal system over time has led to the creation of new text types that can serve as sources for the field of English historical (socio)linguistics, e.g. writs, treatises, law codes, depositions, etc. Although a great amount of attention has already been paid to specific text types from different historical periods, e.g. the role of legal texts in the standardisation processes of Late Medieval and Early Modern English, a more comprehensive discussion on legal text types across periods as sources for linguistic research has not taken place to date. Therefore, this two-day international workshop aims to bring together scholars working on legal texts in the history of the English language and to provide a platform for sharing recent research findings and for facilitating discussions on different text types, methods, and frameworks.

Contributions focusing on the following themes are particularly welcome:

  • theoretical approaches to historical legal texts;
  • evolution of legal institutions and legal practices;
  • evolution of legal text types and genres;
  • inter-/intra-speaker variation in historical legal texts;
  • regional and social variation in historical legal texts;
  • code-switching in historical legal texts;
  • supralocalisation, standardisation processes;
  • scribes, offices and communities of practice participating in the legal domain;
  • templates and manuals in historical legal writing.


To shed more light on sociolinguistic variation in historical legal texts from Britain, we cordially invite researchers working on legal texts in Britain to submit an abstract for this two-day international workshop by 31 May 2023. Abstracts should not exceed 300 words (excluding references). The presentations will be 20 minutes long followed by 10 minutes Q&A.

Please send your abstracts to Anita Auer (anita.auer[@] and Olga Timofeeva (olga.timofeeva[@] by 31 May 2023.