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Encyclopedia > Middle English
Middle English
English
Spoken in: England
Language extinction: developed into Early Modern English by the 16th century
Language family: Indo-European
 Germanic
  West Germanic
   Anglo-Frisian
    Anglic
     Old English
      Middle English
Language codes
ISO 639-1: none
ISO 639-2: enm
ISO 639-3: enm

Middle English is the name given by historical linguistics to the diverse forms of the English language spoken between the Norman invasion of 1066 and the mid-to-late 15th century, when the Chancery Standard, a form of London-based English, began to become widespread, a process aided by the introduction of the printing press into England by William Caxton in the 1470s, and slightly later by Richard Pynson. By this time the Northumbrian dialect spoken in south east Scotland was developing into the Scots language. The language of England as spoken after this time, up to 1650, is known as Early Modern English. Motto (French) God and my right Anthem God Save the King (Queen) England() – on the European continent() – in the United Kingdom() Capital (and largest city) London (de facto) Official languages English (de facto) Government Constitutional monarchy  -  Queen Queen Elizabeth II  -  Prime Minister Tony Blair MP Unification  -  by Athelstan 967  Area... An extinct language (also called a dead language) is a language which no longer has any native speakers. ... Shakespeares writings are universally associated with Early Modern English Early Modern English refers to the stage of the English language used from about the end of the Middle English period (the latter half of the 1400s) to 1650. ... (15th century - 16th century - 17th century - more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 16th century was that century which lasted from 1501 to 1600. ... Current distribution of Human Language Families A language family is a group of related languages said to have descended from a common proto-language. ... The Indo-European languages comprise a family of several hundred related languages and dialects [1], including most of the major languages of Europe, as well as many spoken in the Indian subcontinent (South Asia), the Iranian plateau (Southwest Asia), and Central Asia. ... West Germanic is the largest branch of the Germanic family of languages, including such languages as English, Dutch, and German. ... The Anglo-Frisian languages (also known as Ingvaeonic languages or North Sea Germanic languages) are a group of West Germanic languages consisting of Old English, Old Frisian, and their descendants. ... The Anglic languages (also called Anglian languages) are one of the two branches of Anglo-Frisian languages, itself a branch of West Germanic. ... Old English (also called Anglo-Saxon) is an early form of the English language that was spoken in parts of what is now England and southern Scotland between the mid-fifth century and the mid-twelfth century. ... ISO 639-1 is the first part of the ISO 639 international-standard language-code family. ... ISO 639-2 is the second part of the ISO 639 standard, which lists codes for the representation of the names of languages. ... ISO 639-3 is in process of development as an international standard for language codes. ... Not to be confused with the NATO phonetic alphabet, which has also informally been called the “International Phonetic Alphabet”. For information on how to read IPA transcriptions of English words, see IPA chart for English. ... Phonetics (from the Greek word φωνή, phone meaning sound, voice) is the study of the sounds of human speech. ... Unicode is an industry standard designed to allow text and symbols from all of the writing systems of the world to be consistently represented and manipulated by computers. ... This chart shows concisely the most common way in which the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is applied to represent the English language. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... Historical linguistics (also diachronic linguistics or comparative linguistics) is primarily the study of the ways in which languages change over time. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... Bayeux Tapestry depicting events leading to the Battle of Hastings The Norman Conquest was the conquest of England by William the Conqueror (Duke of Normandy), in 1066 at the Battle of Hastings and the subsequent Norman control of England. ... This article is about the capital of England and the United Kingdom. ... The printing press is a mechanical device for printing many copies of a text on rectangular sheets of paper. ... Motto (French) God and my right Anthem God Save the King (Queen) England() – on the European continent() – in the United Kingdom() Capital (and largest city) London (de facto) Official languages English (de facto) Government Constitutional monarchy  -  Queen Queen Elizabeth II  -  Prime Minister Tony Blair MP Unification  -  by Athelstan 967  Area... The printers device of William Caxton, 1478. ... Richard Pynson, one of the first printers of English books, was born in 1448 in Normandy and may have been a glover [1](Plomer, 1922/23, pp. ... Section from Shepherds map of the British Isles about 802 AD showing the kingdom of Northumbria Northumbria is primarily the name of a petty kingdom of Angles which was formed in Great Britain at the beginning of the 7th century, from two smaller kingdoms of Bernicia and Diera, and... Motto (Latin) No one provokes me with impunity Wha daur meddle wi me?(Scots)1 Anthem (Multiple unofficial anthems) Scotlands location in Europe Capital Edinburgh Largest city Glasgow Official languages English, Gaelic, Scots3 Government Constitutional monarchy  -  Queen Queen Elizabeth II  -  Prime Minister Tony Blair MP  -  First Minister Jack McConnell... The history of the Scots language goes back at least six and a half centuries, to when Lowland Scots (then called Inglis) began to appear in literary form. ... Motto (French) God and my right Anthem God Save the King (Queen) England() – on the European continent() – in the United Kingdom() Capital (and largest city) London (de facto) Official languages English (de facto) Government Constitutional monarchy  -  Queen Queen Elizabeth II  -  Prime Minister Tony Blair MP Unification  -  by Athelstan 967  Area... Shakespeares writings are universally associated with Early Modern English Early Modern English refers to the stage of the English language used from about the end of the Middle English period (the latter half of the 1400s) to 1650. ...


Unlike Old English, which tended largely to adopt Late West Saxon scribal conventions in the immediate pre-Conquest period, Middle English as a written language displays a wide variety of scribal (and presumably dialectal) forms. However, the diversity of forms in written Middle English signifies neither greater variety of spoken forms of English than could be found in pre-Conquest England, nor a faithful representation of contemporary spoken English (though perhaps greater fidelity to this than may be found in Old English texts). Rather, this diversity suggests the gradual end of the role of Wessex as a focal point and trend-setter for scribal activity, and the emergence of more distinct local scribal styles and written dialects, and a general pattern of transition of activity over the centuries which follow, as Northumbria, East Anglia and London emerge successively as major centres of literary production, with their own generic interests. Old English (also called Anglo-Saxon) is an early form of the English language that was spoken in parts of what is now England and southern Scotland between the mid-fifth century and the mid-twelfth century. ... Map of the British Isles circa 802 Wessex was one of the seven major Anglo-Saxon kingdoms (the Heptarchy) that preceded the Kingdom of England. ... Section from Shepherds map of the British Isles about 802 AD showing the kingdom of Northumbria Northumbria is primarily the name of a petty kingdom of Angles which was formed in Great Britain at the beginning of the 7th century, from two smaller kingdoms of Bernicia and Diera, and... Norfolk and Suffolk, the core area of East Anglia. ...

Contents

Literary and linguistic cultures

Middle English was one of the five languages current in England. Though never the language of the Roman Catholic Church, which was always Latin, it lost status as a language of courtly life, literature and documentation, being largely supplanted by Anglo-Norman French. It remained, though, the spoken language of the majority, and may be regarded as the only true vernacular language of most English people after about the mid-12th century, with Anglo-Norman becoming, like Latin, a learned tongue of the court. Welsh and Cornish were also used as spoken vernaculars in the far west. English did not cease to be used in the court: it retained a cartulary function (being the language used in royal charters); nor did it disappear as a language of literary production. Even during what has been called the 'lost' period of English literary history, the late 11th to mid-12th century, Old English texts, especially homilies, saints' lives and grammatical texts, continued to be copied, used and adapted by scribes. From the later 12th and 13th century there survive huge amounts of written material of various forms, from lyrics to saints' lives, devotional manuals to histories, encyclopaedias to poems of moral (and often immoral) discussion and debate, though much of this material remains unstudied, in part because it evades or defies modern, arguably quite restricted, categorisations of literature. Middle English is more familiar to us as the language of Ricardian Poetry and its followers, the 14th- and 15th-century literature cultures clustered around the West Midlands and around London and East Anglia. This includes the works of William Langland, the Gawain Poet, Geoffrey Chaucer, Lydgate, Gower, Malory, Caxton, and Hoccleve. Perhaps best known, of course, is Chaucer himself in his Canterbury Tales and other shorter poems, where the poet consistently revalues and reinvents older traditions while managing to avoid completely abandoning them. The Roman Catholic Church or Catholic Church (see terminology below) is the Christian Church in full communion with the Bishop of Rome, currently Pope Benedict XVI. It traces its origins to the original Christian community founded by Jesus Christ and led by the Twelve Apostles, in particular Saint Peter. ... Latin is an ancient Indo-European language originally spoken in Latium, the region immediately surrounding Rome. ... A royal or noble court, as an instrument of government broader than a court of justice, comprises an extended household centered on a patron whose rule may govern law or be governed by it. ... Old book bindings at the Merton College library. ... In general terms, documentation is any communicable material (such as text, video, audio, etc. ... The Anglo-Norman language is the name given to the variety of Norman spoken by the Anglo-Normans, the descendants of the Normans who ruled England following the conquest by William of Normandy in 1066. ... Look up Vernacular in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Latin is an ancient Indo-European language originally spoken in Latium, the region immediately surrounding Rome. ... Middle Welsh (Cymraeg Canol) is the label attached to the Welsh language of the 12th to 14th centuries, of which much more remains than for any earlier period. ... This does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... Chartulary renders two Latin words, for a collection of charters viz. ... Langlands Dreamer: from an illuminated initial in a Piers Plowman manuscript held at Corpus Christi College, Oxford William Langland is the conjectured author of the 14th-century English dream-vision Piers Plowman. ... The Pearl Poet is the name given to the author of Pearl, an alliterative poem written in Middle English. ... This article does not cite its references or sources. ... John Lydgate (1370?-1451?); Monk and poet, born in Lidgate, Suffolk, England. ... John Gower shooting the world, a sphere of earth, air, and water (from an edition of his works c. ... Sir Thomas Malory (c. ... The printers device of William Caxton, 1478. ... Thomas Occleve (or Hoccleve) (1368 - 1450?), English poet, was born probably in 1368/9, for, writing in 1421/2 he says he was fifty-three years old (). He ranks, like his more voluminous and better known contemporary Lydgate, among those poets who have a historical rather than intrinsic importance in... Canterbury Tales Woodcut 1484 The Canterbury Tales is a collection of stories written by Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century (two of them in prose, the rest in verse). ...


History

1000

Syððan wæs geworden þæt he ferde þurh þa ceastre and þæt castel: godes rice prediciende and bodiende. and hi twelfe mid. And sume wif þe wæron gehælede of awyrgdum gastum: and untrumnessum: seo magdalenisce maria ofþære seofan deoflu uteodon: and iohanna chuzan wif herodes gerefan: and susanna and manega oðre þe him of hyra spedum þenedon;
— Translation of Luke 8.1–3 from the New Testament

Although it is possible to overestimate the degree of culture shock which the transfer of power in 1066 represented, the removal from the top levels of an English-speaking political and ecclesiastical hierarchy, and their replacement with a Norman-speaking one, both opened the way for the introduction of French as a language of polite discourse and literature and fundamentally altered the role of Old English in education and administration. Although Old English was by no means as standardised as modern English, its written forms were less subject to broad dialect variations than post-Conquest English. The Gospel of Luke is the third and longest of the four canonical Gospels of the New Testament, which tell the story of Jesus life, death, and resurrection. ... John 21:1 Jesus Appears to His Disciples--Alessandro Mantovani: the Vatican, Rome. ... Norman is a Romance language and one of the Oïl languages. ...


Even now, after a thousand years, the Norman influence on the English language is still visible.


Consider these pairs of Modern English words. The first of each pair is derived from Old English and the second is of Anglo-Norman French origin: pig/pork, cow/beef, wood/forest, sheep/mutton, house/mansion, worthy/honourable, bold/courageous.
This article is about the pig genus. ... Two halves of pork being delivered Pork is the culinary name for meat from pigs. ... COW is an acronym for a number of things: Can of worms The COW programming language, an esoteric programming language. ... For other uses, see Beef (disambiguation). ... Trunks A tree trunk as found at the Veluwe, The Netherlands Wood is a solid material derived from woody plants, notably trees but also shrubs. ... Temperate rainforest on Northern Slopes of the Alborz mountain ranges, Iran A dense growth of softwoods (a conifer forest) in the Sierra Nevada Range of Northern California A decidous broadleaf (Beech) forest in Slovenia. ... Species See text. ... Mutton may refer to either: The meat of a sheep In parts of Asia, the meat of a goat Category: ... Several two-story houses located in Lynnwood, WA. A house in Pathanapuram, Kerala (India) A house, a structure used for habitation by people, generally has walls and a roof to shelter its enclosed space from precipitation, wind, heat, and cold. ... This article or section is not written in the formal tone expected of an encyclopedia article. ... Worthy can refer to: Look up worthy in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... The prefix The Honourable or The Honorable ( or formerly The Honble) is a title of quality attached to the names of certain classes of persons. ... Bold Bold, see Bold (disambiguation). ... see: Courage HMS Courageous ...


The role of Anglo-Norman as the language of government and law can be seen by the abundance of Modern English words for the mechanisms of government derived from Anglo-Norman: court, judge, jury, appeal, parliament. Also prevalent are terms relating to the chivalric cultures which arose in the 12th century as a response to the requirements of feudalism and crusading activity. Early on, this vocabulary of refined behaviour begins to work its way into English: the word 'debonaire' appears in the 1137 Peterborough Chronicle, but so too does 'castel', another Norman import that makes its mark on the territory of the English language as much as on the territory of England itself. A trial at the Old Bailey in London as drawn by Thomas Rowlandson and Augustus Pugin for Ackermanns Microcosm of London (1808-11). ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... It has been suggested that Mandate (law) be merged into this article or section. ... A parliament is a legislature, especially in those countries whose system of government is based on the Westminster system modelled after that of the United Kingdom. ... Woman under the Safeguard of Knighthood, allegorical Scene. ... (11th century - 12th century - 13th century - other centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 12th century was that century which lasted from 1101 to 1200. ... Roland pledges his fealty to Charlemagne; from a manuscript of a chanson de geste. ... This article is about historical Crusades . ... The Peterborough Chronicle (also called The Laud Manuscript) is one of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles that contains unique information about the history of England after the Norman Conquest. ... Pierrefonds Castle, France Castle has a history of scholarly debate surrounding its exact meaning. ... Norman conquests in red. ...


This period of trilingual activity developed much of the flexible triplicate synonymy of modern English. For instance, English has three words meaning roughly "of or relating to a king":

  • kingly from Old English,
  • royal from French and
  • regal from Latin.

Deeper changes occurred in the grammar. Bit by bit, as we have seen, the wealthy and the government anglicised again, though French remained the dominant language of literature and law for several centuries, even after the loss of the majority of the continental possessions of the English monarchy. The new English did not look the same as the old. Old English had a complex system of inflectional endings, but these were gradually lost and simplified in the dialects of spoken English. Gradually the change spread to be reflected in its increasingly diverse written forms. This loss of case-endings was part of a general trend from inflectional to fixed-order words which occurred in other Germanic languages, and cannot be attributed simply to the influence of French-speaking layers of the population. English remained, after all, the language of the majority. It certainly was a literary language in England, alongside Anglo-Norman and Latin from the 12th to the 14th centuries. In the later 14th century, Chancery Standard (or London English) — itself a phenomenon produced by the increase of bureaucracy in London, and a concomitant increase in London literary production — introduced a greater deal of conformity in English spelling. While the fame of Middle English literary productions tends to begin in the later fourteenth century, with the works of Chaucer and Gower, an immense corpus of literature survives from throughout the Middle English period. Anglicized refers to foreign words, often surnames, that are changed from a foreign language into English. ... The monarch or Sovereign is the head of state of the United Kingdom. ...


c. 1400

The Establishment is using English increasingly around this time. The Parliament of England used English increasingly from around the 1360s, and the king's court used mainly English from the time of King Henry V (acceded 1413). With some standardization of the language, English begins to exhibit the more recognisable forms of grammar was a type of language and syntax that will form the basis of future standard dialects: English parliament in front of the king c. ... Centuries: 13th century - 14th century - 15th century Decades: 1310s 1320s 1330s 1340s 1350s - 1360s - 1370s 1380s 1390s 1400s 1410s Years: 1360 1361 1362 1363 1364 1365 1366 1367 1368 1369 Events and Trends William Langland writes Piers Plowman Categories: 1360s ... Henry V of England (16 September 1387 – 31 August 1422) was one of the great warrior kings of the Middle Ages. ... // March 21 - Henry V becomes King of England. ...

And it is don, aftirward Jesus made iourne bi cites & castelis prechende & euangelisende þe rewme of god, & twelue wiþ hym & summe wymmen þat weren helid of wicke spiritis & sicnesses, marie þat is clepid maudeleyn, of whom seuene deuelis wenten out & Jone þe wif off chusi procuratour of eroude, & susanne & manye oþere þat mynystreden to hym of her facultes
— Luke 8.1–3

A text from 1391: Geoffrey Chaucer's Treatise on the Astrolabe. July 18 - Battle of the Kondurcha River - Timur defeats Tokhtamysh in the Volga. ... This article does not cite its references or sources. ...


However, this was a time of upheaval in England. Five kings were deposed between 1399 and 1500, and one of them was deposed twice. New men came into positions of power, some of them from other parts of the country or lower levels in society. Stability only came gradually after 1485 with the Tudor dynasty. The language changed too — there was much change during the 15th century. But towards the end of that century, a more modern English was starting to emerge. Printing started in England in the 1470s. With a standardised, printed, English Bible and Prayer Book being read to church congregations from the 1540s, a wider public became familiar with a standard language, and the era of Modern English was underway. Events September 30 - Accession of Henry IV of England October 13 - Coronation of Henry IV of England November 1 - Accession of John VI, Duke of Brittany Births William Canynge, English merchant (approximate date; died 1474) Zara Yaqob, Emperor of Ethiopia (died 1468) Deaths January 4 - Nicolau Aymerich, Catalan theologian and... 1500 was a common year starting on Monday (see link for calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Events and Trends battle of Avenches 1476 Prominent Persons Nicolaus Copernicus, Polish astronomer and mathematician A map of Europe in the 1470s. ... The efforts of translating the Bible from its original languages into over 2,000 others have spanned more than two millennia. ... A Modern Prayer Book The Book of Common Prayer is the prayer book of the Church of England and also the name for similar books used in other churches in the Anglican Communion. ...


Construction

Key points

With its simplified case-ending system, Middle English is closer to modern English than its pre-Conquest equivalent.


Nouns

Despite losing the slightly more complex system of inflectional endings, Middle English retains two separate noun-ending patterns from Old English. Compare, for example, the early Modern English words engel (angel) and nome (name):

singular plural
nom/acc engel nome engles nomen
gen engles* nome engle(ne)** nomen
dat engle nome engle(s) nomen

The strong -s plural form has survived into Modern English, while the weak -n form is rare (oxen, children, brethren and in some dialects eyen (instead of eyes) shoon (instead of shoes) and kine (instead of cows)).


Verbs

As a general rule (and all these rules are general), the first person singular of present tense verbs ends in -e (ich here), the second person in -(e)st (þou spekest), and the third person in -eþ (he comeþ). (þ is pronounced like the unvoiced th in "think"). In the past tense, weak verbs are formed by an -ed(e), -d(e) or -t(e) ending. These, without their personal endings, also form past participles, together with past-participle prefixes derived from the old English ge-: i-, y- and sometimes bi-. Strong verbs form their past tense by changing their stem vowel (e.g. binden -> bound), as in Modern English. Þþ Thorn, or þorn (Þ, þ), is a letter in the Anglo-Saxon and Icelandic alphabets. ... A strong inflection is an irregular inflection, in which the stem of a word changes. ... A bound can be: an upper bound - mathematics Bound (movie) This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ...


Pronouns

Post-Conquest English inherits its pronouns from Old English:

First and Second Person
First Person Second Person
singular plural singular plural
nom. ic, I we þu ye
acc. me us þe yow, ow
gen. min, mi ure þin yower, ower
dat. me us þe yow, ow
Third Person
masc. neut. fem. pl.
nom. he hit ho, heo, hi hi, ho, heo
acc. hine hit hi, heo hi
gen. his his hire, hore hore, heore
dat. him him hire hom, heom

First and second pronouns survive largely unchanged, with only minor spelling variations. In the third person, the masculine accusative singular became 'him'. The feminine form was replaced by a form of the demonstrative that developed into 'she', but unsteadily — 'ho' remains in some areas for a long time. The lack of a strong standard written form between the eleventh and the fifteenth century makes these changes hard to map.


Pronunciation

Generally, all letters in Middle English words are pronounced. (Silent letters in Modern English come from pronunciation shifts but continued spelling conventions.) Therefore 'knight' is pronounced [knɪçt] (with a pronounced K and a 'gh' as the 'ch' in German 'nicht'), not [naɪt], as in Modern English. In an alphabetic writing system, a silent letter is a letter that, in a particular word, does not correspond to any sound in the words pronunciation. ...

Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages
And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes
To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;
(Chaucer, Canterbury Tales)

Words like 'straunge' are disyllabic. 'Palmeres' is trisyllabic. Comparison with Old English has led some to claim Middle English (and therefore Modern English) developed as a sort of creole. This article does not cite its references or sources. ... Canterbury Tales Woodcut 1484 The Canterbury Tales is a collection of stories written by Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century (two of them in prose, the rest in verse). ... A creole language, or simply a creole, is stable language that originated from a non-trivial combination of two or more languages, typically with many features that are not inherited from any parent. ...


Chancery Standard

Chancery Standard was a written form of English used by government bureaucracy and for other official purposes from the late 14th century. It is believed to have contributed in a significant way to the development of the English language as spoken and written today. Because of the differing dialects of English spoken and written across the country at the time, the government required a clear and unambiguous form for use in its official documents. Chancery Standard was developed to meet this need.


History of the Chancery Standard

The standard was developed during the reign of King Henry V (1413 to 1422) in response to his order for government officials to use, like himself, English rather than Anglo-Norman or Latin. It had become broadly standardized by about the 1430s. The Anglo-Norman language is the name given to the variety of Norman spoken by the Anglo-Normans, the descendants of the Normans who ruled England following the conquest by William of Normandy in 1066. ... Latin is an ancient Indo-European language originally spoken in Latium, the region immediately surrounding Rome. ...


It was largely based on the London and East Midland dialects, for those areas were the political and demographic "centres of gravity." However, it used other dialectical forms where they made meanings more clear; for example, the northern "they", "their" and "them" were used rather than the London "hi/they", "hir" and "hem." This was perhaps because the London forms could be confused with words such as he, her, him.


In its early stages of development, the clerks that used it would have been familiar with French and Latin. The strict grammars of those languages influenced the construction of the standard. It was not the only influence on later forms of English — its level of influence is disputed and a variety of spoken dialects continued to exist — but it provided a core around which Early Modern English could crystallise.


By the mid-15th century, Chancery Standard was used for most official purposes except the Church (which used Latin) and some legal matters (which used French and some Latin). It was disseminated around England by bureaucrats on official business, and slowly gained prestige.


Chancery Standard provided a widely-intelligible form of English for the first printers, who appeared later in the 15th century.


Sample text

The following is from the first sentence of the Prologue from The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. A prologue (Greek πρόλογος, from προ~, pro~ - fore~, and lógos, word), or rarely prolog, is a prefatory piece of writing, usually composed to introduce a drama. ... Canterbury Tales Woodcut 1484 The Canterbury Tales is a collection of stories written by Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century (two of them in prose, the rest in verse). ... This article does not cite its references or sources. ...

Whan that Aprill with his shoures sote
The droghte of Marche hath perced to the rote,
And bathed euery veyne in swich licour,
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breeth
Inspired hath in euery holt and heeth
The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halfe course yronne,
And smale fowles maken melodye,
That slepen al the niȝt with open ye—
So priketh hem Nature in hir corages—
Than longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,
To ferne halwes, couthe in sondry londes;
And specially, from euery shires ende
Of Engelond to Caunterbury they wende,
The holy blissful martir for to seke,
That hem hath holpen, whan that they were seke.
Translations:
When April with its sweet showers
has pierced the drought of March to the root,
and bathed every vein in such liquor
from whose power the flower is engendered;
when Zephyr [the west wind] also, with his sweet breath
has blown [into life] in every wood and heath
the tender crops, and the young sun
has run his half-course in the sign of the Ram [Aries],
and small fowls make melody,
who sleep all night with open eye
- so Nature stimulates them in their hearts
- THEN people long to go on pilgrimages,
and palmers [pilgrims carrying palm leaves] to seek strange strands [coastlines],
to far [distant] saints [holy places], known in various lands;
and specially, from every shire's end [from every county]
in England, to Canterbury they wend [go; went comes from "wend"],
to seek the holy blissful martyr [Thomas à Becket]
who helped them when they were sick.

References

Wikimedia Incubator
Middle English test of Wikipedia at Wikimedia Incubator
  • Sweet, Henry (2005). First Middle English Primer. Evolution Publishing: Bristol, PA. ISBN 1-889758-70-1. 

Image File history File links Incubator-notext. ... Wikipedia - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia /**/ @import /skins-1. ... Incubator logo The Wikimedia Incubator is a wiki run by Wikimedia Foundation. ... Henry Sweet (1845-1912) was a philologist, and is also considered to be an early linguist. ... Bristol is a borough located in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. ...

See also

The Middle English creole hypothesis is the conjecture that the English language is a creole, ie. ...

External links

  • A. L. Mayhew and Walter William Skeat. A Concise Dictionary of Middle English from A.D. 1150 to 1580
  • Middle English Glossary
  • Medieval English Narrator - listen to recorded excerpts of Medieval English literature with text alongside for translation help - Dr. Anthony Colaianne, Chris Baugh

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