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  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: May 2010

4 - The ST. Gall Tractate


Is est autem optimus, quo fit, ut qui audit uerum audiat et, quod audit, intellegat.

Augustine, De doctrina Christiana

The St. Gall Tractate (SGT) is a unique document outlining medieval lectio practice. It is one of the oldest extant medieval treatises to discuss theories of sentence structure and word order and documents early developments in medieval linguistic thought that would pave the way for the twelfth-century modistic grammarians. On a more practical level, the SGT is a “how to” book for teaching intermediate Latin reading and provides us with a rare glimpse at the methodology of medieval discretio and the related rhetorical subject of compositio. The author demonstrates step by step how to construe the segments of a sentence and how to analyze the structure of a text in the classroom. Finally, he discusses how properly to modulate one's voice in order to perform a text correctly so that the less experienced listener (auditor minus doctus) will be able to understand the vocalized discourse.

The two extant copies of the SGT in Zurich, Zentralbibliothek, MS C.98 (Z) and Brussels, Bibl. royale, MS 10 615–729 (G) are both in some way associated with Notker Labeo and St. Gall. Z was copied at St. Gall in the late tenth or first half of the eleventh century and contains in addition two Latin dialectic texts that were probably composed by Notker, “Distributio” and “Dialectica.