Vol. 17:1 (2016) ► pp.55–78
How to do things with glosses
Illocutionary forces in the margins of medieval manuscripts
This paper provides a novel view on marginalia from the perspective of linguistic pragmatics. It is based on the observation that existing studies often exclude entries in medieval manuscripts that do not comment on the text directly. Many of them, however, are crucial for understanding what medieval monks did when they studied manuscripts. Searle’s (1969) Speech Act Theory, his typology of illocutionary forces, offers a suitable framework for the systematic analysis of the different kinds of manuscript entries and to reconstruct the intellectual contexts of medieval glossing. We can see that in addition to assertives (i.e., glosses that provide further information on a specific text passage) expressives, directives, commissives and declaratives can also be identified in the margins of medieval manuscripts. Sometimes, even the perlocution of marginalia, their effect on medieval readers, can be traced today.