This article discusses a 13th-century Latin devotional text, the Speculum Ecclesie, originally composed in Latin by Edmund of Abingdon, Archbishop of Canterbury, and its 15th-century Middle English translation, The Mirror of Holy Church. The Middle English Mirror is on the whole a highly literalist translation of the Latin source text. However, this apparent fidelity of the Middle English text turns out to be deceptive: detailed comparison of the surviving Middle English manuscripts shows that one manuscript (Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Douce 25) attempts to address a wider range of audiences than the other manuscripts, by way of employing Anglo-Saxon-derived words as well as French- or Latin-derived words. The Middle English Mirror of Holy Church thus illustrates an important aspect of the late-medieval linguistic landscape, foregrounding the translator's pedagogical effort to include those readers who were probably not comfortable with Latin- or French-derived vocabulary.
- Edmund of Abingdon
- Middle English devotional literature
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Linguistics and Language
- Literature and Literary Theory