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  2. Reading Middle English Literature: An Introduction (Wiley Blackwell Introductions to Literature)
  3. Publications – University of Reading

Learn how to enable JavaScript on your browser. This Companion explores the Bible's role and influence on individual writers, whilst tracing the key developments of Biblical themes and literary theory through the ages.

Emma Mason is a senior lecturer in English at the University of Warwick. Jonathan Roberts is a lecturer in English at the University of Liverpool. Click to read or download. Suarez, S. Hirst 32 P. Hopkins Paul S. Lawrence T. Wright 48 T. From Chaucer to T. Later French appropriations were derived from standard, rather than Norman, French. Examples of resultant cognate pairs include the words warden from Norman , and guardian from later French; both share a common Germanic ancestor. The end of Anglo-Saxon rule did not result in immediate changes to the language.

The general population would have spoken the same dialects as they had before the Conquest. Once the writing of Old English came to an end, Middle English had no standard language, only dialects that derived from the dialects of the same regions in the Anglo-Saxon period. Early Middle English — [13] has a largely Anglo-Saxon vocabulary with many Norse borrowings in the northern parts of the country , but a greatly simplified inflectional system.

The grammatical relations that were expressed in Old English by the dative and instrumental cases are replaced in Early Middle English with prepositional constructions. The Old English genitive -es survives in the -'s of the modern English possessive , but most of the other case endings disappeared in the Early Middle English period, including most of the roughly one dozen forms of the definite article "the". The dual personal pronouns denoting exactly two also disappeared from English during this period.

Gradually, the wealthy and the government Anglicised again, although Norman and subsequently French remained the dominant language of literature and law until the 14th century, even after the loss of the majority of the continental possessions of the English monarchy. The loss of case endings was part of a general trend from inflections to fixed word order that also occurred in other Germanic languages though more slowly and to a lesser extent , and therefore it cannot be attributed simply to the influence of French-speaking sections of the population: English did, after all, remain the vernacular.

It is also argued [14] that Norse immigrants to England had a great impact on the loss of inflectional endings in Middle English. One argument is that, although Norse- and English-speakers were somewhat comprehensible to each other due to similar morphology, the Norse-speakers' inability to reproduce the ending sounds of English words influenced Middle English's loss of inflectional endings.

Important texts for the reconstruction of the evolution of Middle English out of Old English are the Peterborough Chronicle , which continued to be compiled up to ; the Ormulum , a biblical commentary probably composed in Lincolnshire in the second half of the 12th century, incorporating a unique phonetic spelling system; and the Ancrene Wisse and the Katherine Group , religious texts written for anchoresses , apparently in the West Midlands in the early 13th century.

More literary sources of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries include Lawman's Brut and The Owl and the Nightingale. Some scholars [16] have defined "Early Middle English" as encompassing English texts up to This longer time frame would extend the corpus to include many Middle English Romances especially those of the Auchinleck manuscript ca. From around the early 14th century there was significant migration into London , particularly from the counties of the East Midlands , and a new prestige London dialect began to develop, based chiefly on the speech of the East Midlands, but also influenced by that of other regions.

The Ayenbite of Inwyt , a translation of a French confessional prose work, completed in , is written in a Kentish dialect.


The best known writer of Middle English, Geoffrey Chaucer , wrote in the second half of the 14th century in the emerging London dialect, although he also portrays some of his characters as speaking in northern dialects, as in the " Reeve's Tale ". In the English-speaking areas of lowland Scotland , an independent standard was developing, based on the Northumbrian dialect. This would develop into what came to be known as the Scots language. The Chancery Standard of written English emerged c.

Clerks using this standard were usually familiar with French and Latin , influencing the forms they chose. The Chancery Standard, which was adopted slowly, was used in England by bureaucrats for most official purposes, excluding those of the Church and legalities, which used Latin and Law French and some Latin , respectively. The Chancery Standard's influence on later forms of written English is disputed, but it did undoubtedly provide the core around which Early Modern English formed.

The press stabilized English through a push towards standardization, led by Chancery Standard enthusiast and writer Richard Pynson. The main changes between the Old English sound system and that of Middle English include:. Middle English retains only two distinct noun-ending patterns from the more complex system of inflection in Old English.

Reading Middle English Literature: An Introduction (Wiley Blackwell Introductions to Literature)

The Early Middle English nouns engel "angel" and name "name" demonstrate the two patterns:. The distinct dative case was lost in early Middle English. The genitive survived, however, but by the end of the Middle English period, only the strong -'s ending variously spelt was in use. The strong - e s plural form has survived into Modern English. The weak - e n form is now rare and used only in oxen and, as part of a double plural , in children and brethren. Some dialects still have forms such as eyen for eyes , shoon for shoes , hosen for hose s , kine for cows , and been for bees. Middle English personal pronouns were mostly developed from those of Old English , with the exception of the third-person plural, a borrowing from Old Norse the original Old English form clashed with the third person singular and was eventually dropped.

Also, the nominative form of the feminine third-person singular was replaced by a form of the demonstrative that developed into sche modern she , but the alternative heyr remained in some areas for a long time. As with nouns, there was some inflectional simplification the distinct Old English dual forms were lost , but pronouns, unlike nouns, retained distinct nominative and accusative forms. Third-person pronouns also retained a distinction between accusative and dative forms, but that was gradually lost: the masculine hine was replaced by him south of the Thames by the early 14th century, and the neuter dative him was ousted by it in most dialects by the 15th.

The following table shows some of the various Middle English pronouns, together with their modern in quotation marks and sometimes Old English equivalents. Many other variations are noted in Middle English sources because of differences in spellings and pronunciations at different times and in different dialects. The following table illustrates the conjugation pattern of but one dialect. The past tense of weak verbs is formed by adding an -ed e , -d e or -t e ending.

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The past-tense forms, without their personal endings, also serve as past participles with past-participle prefixes derived from Old English: i- , y- and sometimes bi-. Strong verbs , by contrast, form their past tense by changing their stem vowel binden becomes bound , a process called apophony , as in Modern English. With the discontinuation of the Late West Saxon standard used for the writing of Old English in the period prior to the Norman Conquest, Middle English came to be written in a wide variety of scribal forms, reflecting different regional dialects and orthographic conventions.

Later in the Middle English period, however, and particularly with the development of the Chancery Standard in the 15th century, orthography became relatively standardised in a form based on the East Midlands-influenced speech of London. Spelling at the time was mostly quite regular there was a fairly consistent correspondence between letters and sounds. The irregularity of present-day English orthography is largely due to pronunciation changes that have taken place over the Early Modern English and Modern English eras. Middle English generally did not have silent letters. This letter, however, came to indicate a lengthened — and later also modified — pronunciation of a preceding vowel.

In fact vowels could have this lengthened and modified pronunciation in various positions, particularly before a single consonant letter and another vowel, or before certain pairs of consonants. A related convention involved the doubling of consonant letters to show that the preceding vowel was not to be lengthened. In some cases the double consonant represented a sound that was or had previously been geminated , i.

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In other cases, by analogy, the consonant was written double merely to indicate the lack of lengthening. Eth fell out of use during the 13th century and was replaced by thorn.

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Under Norman influence, the continental Carolingian minuscule replaced the insular script that had been used for Old English. Many scribal abbreviations were also used. It was common for the Lollards to abbreviate the name of Jesus as in Latin manuscripts to ihc. Various forms of the ampersand replaced the word and.

Numbers were still always written using Roman numerals , except for some rare occurrences of Arabic numerals during the 15th century. Delivery to: Finland. Description This introduction provides the guidance that modern readers need to come to an informed appreciation of the writings of medieval England. Compare Similar Products Set 1 of 1. Behemoth: Struktur und Praxis des Nationalsozialismus - Free Returns: No. Please Tell Me! Galko-chan Vol. Back To Top.