Scribes, Repertoires, and Variation

Eitan Grossman, Jennifer Cromwell

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


As in spoken language, variation abounds in written texts. In the latter, linguistic and extralinguistic variation coexists: one finds variation in lexical and grammatical features, as well as in other textual parameters such as orthography, phraseology and formulary, palaeography, layout, and formatting. Such variation occurs both within the written output of individuals and across broader corpora that represent ‘communities’ of diverse types. To encapsulate this, we use the inclusive term ‘scribal repertoires’, a concept that is intended to cover the entire set of linguistic and non-linguistic practices that are prone to variation within and between manuscripts, while placing focus on scribes as socially and culturally embedded agents, whose choices are reflected in texts. This conceptualization of scribal variation, inspired by the relatively recent field of historical sociolinguistics, is applied to a range of phenomenon in the scribal cultures of premodern Egypt, across languages and socio-historical settings.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationScribal Repertoires in Egypt from the New Kingdom to the Early Islamic Period
EditorsEitan Grossman, Jennifer Cromwell
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)9780198768104
StatePublished - 2017


  • historical sociolinguistics
  • repertoires
  • variation
  • scribes
  • textual communities


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