For the sociolinguistic study of papyri -and of the Greek papyrus letters, more specifically-,
archives are a treasure-trove. In such collections, one can examine the language of
the individual of whom often different letters have been preserved. Also the language of
a specific group of people can be studied. In this paper, I focus on the language of the family
members of Saturnila. This archive dates to the 2nd century AD and solely exists out
of private letters. Most letters are sent by Sempronius to his mother Saturnila and to his
brother Saturnilus. Private letters have a number of conventionalized phrases, such as an
opening formula and health wishes. To the standard expression of these topoi, variation
is possible. Yet, the letters of the Satumila archive notably differ from those standard formulas.
The language of the different members of the archive shows uniformity in their
identical deviation from standard phraseology. It thus seems that this family developed a
sort of in-group and shared language.