An Introduction to Middle English by Simon Horobin

By Simon Horobin

This authoritative survey deals a concise description of center English, the language of Chaucer, throughout the interval from 1100 to 1500. center English is mentioned on the subject of either past and later levels within the historical past of English and in regard to different languages with which it got here into touch. The booklet covers the crucial beneficial properties of heart English spelling, pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary and in addition introduces heart English textual stories.

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It is perhaps worth recalling at this point that such a multilingual society as post-Conquest England is not as curious at it might seem from a modern, Anglophone perspective. English is now an international language, spoken by some seven hundred million speakers worldwide as a first language, and by many more as a second language. In the Middle Ages, however, English was a marginal language in Western European terms; in some ways, its position was roughly equivalent to that of present-day Dutch or Finnish in terms of numbers of speakers.

It was also used sporadically for /w/ and even for /z/ – in the latter case because OE and Old French were by this time written identically, as <>. 2). 3. were used interchangeably to represent both vowel [υ] and consonant [v], with generally being used initially, elsewhere. 4. was used interchangeably with , especially in environments where contemporary handwriting could be confusing, such as before or after ; all these letters could be written using the ‘minim’ stroke: <>.

Towards the end of the ME period, however, English began to take on national functions once again; as we saw in Chapter 3, standardised systems, based upon London usage, emerged. The remainder of this chapter falls into two parts. In the next section, a detailed description is offered of one ME system of transmission: the sound-system of Geoffrey Chaucer, and the spelling-system we find in the best manuscripts of his poetry. 2, 3 Once this point of reference has been established, the remaining section in the chapter contains detailed accounts of the origins and development of sound- and spelling-systems found in various parts of the country at different times in the ME period.

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