The English Language in the Middle English Period An Introduction.

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Slide 1 The English Language in the Middle English Period An Introduction Slide 2 Middle English (1066-1500) Many more texts than OE period No standard variety of English Dates: 1066Norman Conquest 1100Round number! 1476First printing in England (Caxton) 1485Accession of Henry VII (Tudor) Germanic, highly inflected hybrid (many loans), lightly inflected Slide 3 Chaucer, Reeves Tale (late 14th c.): How fare thy fair daughter and thy wife? And John also, how now, what do ye here? lfric, Preface to Genesis (late 10th c., modernized characters): Tha wande he ongean to tham cynge. God gesceop us twa eagan and twa earan. also, literary familiarity (Chaucer, Christmas carols, folk songs, lullabies, nursery rhymes) 30 days hath September Slide 4 But! Continuity OE texts copied in ME period: laws, Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, homilies, psalters, medicinal texts, etc. early ME carol: Sumer is icumen inSpring has come in Lhude sing cuccu-Loudly sing, cuckoo! Growe sed and blowe medSeed grows and meadow blooms And spring e wude nu-And the forest springs up now. Sing cuccuSing, cuckoo! Awe blete after lomb-Ewe bleats after lamb, Lhou after calue cu-Cow lows after calf, Bulluc sterte bucke uerteBullock leaps, buck farts, Murie sing cuccu-Merrily sing, cuckoo! Cuccu cuccu-Cuckoo, cuckoo, Wel singes u cuccuYou sing well, cuckoo. Ne swik u nauer nu-Nor cease you never now! Sing cuccu nu sing cuccu-Sing cuckoo now, sing cuckoo! Sing cuccu sing cuccu nu-Sing cuckoo, sing cuckoo now! Slide 5 Why were OE texts updated? Antiquarian interest Religious texts of practical use for sermons, devotional reading Ongoing oral tradition between OE and ME - formula, aphorism Slide 6 Why didnt English die? Political dominance usually accompanied by linguistic dominance By Chaucers die, French was foreign again By 1076, English rebellion crushed - French the language of power (barons, bishops, abbots) Anglo-Norman French Kings spent a lot of time in France Richard I: 6 months in England William I couldnt learn English Slide 7 The Reasons: Extensive written literature, strong oral tradition Vibrant vernacular religious tradition Anglo-Saxon texts in 11th c. manuscripts (Beowulf) Political uncertainty, continuing French/English strife - brutal occupation in 11th c. 100 Years War (1337-1453) - French the language of the enemy Not enough Normans in England (10-15,000 of 1.5 million) 3 million by 1300 Most had no contact with French Bilingual class (aristocracy, senior clergy, merchants): small Pressure to learn English: baronial staff, clergy Few French women came to England - lots of intermarriage - bilingual kids Slide 8 Lots written in Latin, restricted sphere of French French used in formal domains (law, literature, arts) but never the sole official language Role of English sharply defined: second-class in speech, rare in writing Triglossia: 1 low status, 2 competing high-status languages (cf. Tunisia: French, Classical Arabic, colloquial Arabic) diglossia (Latin/Eng) monoglossia By 1200, noble children speak English, learn French But by ca. 1350, still very little English writing Slide 9 The Impact of French English had to adapt to new functions - no suitable English for many domains Old English now archaic Law, architecture, estate management, music, literature - specialized vocabulary Loans: not individual, but clustered New words change pronunciation New spellings Foreign compounds, idioms, formulas Slide 10 Expansion of Written English: From Memory to Written Record Many new churches: more scriptoria, more scribes, more MSS New monastic rules/guidelines More preaching, pastoral work (English needed) Writs/charters: 2,000 in OE period, hundreds of thousands in ME period Records of apprenticeship, guild membership, military conscription, court records, parish registers, manorial records, tax records, accounts of royal income - mostly Latin, but soon in English Slide 11 12th Century Renaissance New language in theology, philosophy, logic, law, cosmology, medicine, mathematics Renewal of interest in Classics (Latin, Arabic, Greek) Translations into English English secular music/lit: poet-musicians influenced by Continental traditions Slide 12 From Anglo-Norman to French 13th c.: French an international language of culture/fashion, but Parisian French - learned as a foreign language French replaced Latin in administrative settings (court, parliament, business) - persisted into 15th century


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