Analysis of Middle English Texts

Topics: English language, Middle English, Inflection Pages: 3 (1301 words) Published: March 6, 2013
So far, we have had three phases in our English language. We began with Old English that fell between the timeline of 450 AD to 1150AD. Following that we transitioned to Middle English which ran from 1150 AD to 1500 AD. And from there we grew accustomed to Modern English which began in 1500 AD and is still the language that we have the privilege to speak today. Although the entire history of the English language is fascinating, unfortunately this paper is mainly focused on the Middle English period. As in most cases, there are important historical events that lead to the transition from Old English to Middle English. And from those events we can better understand why Old English sounds like a foreign language compared to Modern English, whereas Middle English seems much more similar. With the help of an excerpt from Geoffrey Chaucer’s book Canterbury Tales, we can reflect upon the text and explain how and why Middle English has the vocabulary and grammar that it does. To understand the transition from Old English to Middle English, it is important to know who or what caused it. In 1066 there was an event known as The Norman Conquest. In the book A History of the English Language by Baugh and Cable, it is stated that the Norman Conquest had a greater effect on the English language than any other event in the course of its history (Baugh, Cable 108). In January 1066 Edward the Confessor died childless. England, having its choice of a successor, chose Harold son of Godwin to be king. But, before Edward’s death, he had told William Duke of Normandy that he would be the successor. Enraged, William chose to take the crown by force and defeated Harold at The Battle of Hastings (Baugh, Cable 110). This lead to the gradual inclination of French being spoke in England. For 200 years after The Norman Conquest French was the language of the English upper class. It was first only spoken by the occupying Normans but after years of intermarrying and ruling class association,...
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