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204_lecture_week_11_ME - LIN204H1S English Grammar Week 11...

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LIN204H1S English Grammar Winter/Spring 2009 Week 11 – II Middle English 1/9 Middle English (ME) 1 1. Outer history 1066 The Norman Conquest – Normandy (Northern France) invades England. The Normans spoke Norman French, and French becomes the language of the upper-class culture, government and administration. English is no longer the standard literary dialect. 1204 King John loses most of his Normandy territories to the French crown. English gradually comes back to the nobility. 14th century – Re-establishment of English as the language of administration and culture, re-establishment of an English literary language - 1362 English becomes the official language for legal proceedings in England - Late 14th century: Chaucer appears as a major figure in English writing - Grammar school changes its medium language in education from French to English Two standards in ME – English in Scotland and English in England; we will look at only English in England here. The standard English in England was not from the West Saxon literary language, which was the standard in OE, but was based on the East Midland dialect of English. This was probably because the East Midlands were important in cultural, economic and administrative life. After all, London was the place for the government and culture, and London speech was based on an East Midland dialect, which mainly descended from the Mercian dialect of OE. (15th century: Introduction of printing. The prestige of London English grew. Standardization of literary language.) In the ME period, there was a flux of French loanwords, in the areas of, for example, rank ( baron, duke ), law ( accuse, court, crime) , ecclesiastical life ( abbey, parish, religion ), the military ( battle, castle, tower ), arts and fashion ( apparel, dress, beauty ), and abstract nouns ( charity, mercy, obedience ). Spelling system: after the Norman Conquest, the English spelling system followed the Norman French system, e.g., new consonant letters (e.g., g for OE Z , th for OE þ, ð) ( Ye , like in Ye Olde Tea Shoppe ) is late medieval way of writing þe). 1 Lecture notes are based on descriptions in: - Barber, Charles (1993). The English Language A Historical Introduction . Cambridge University Press. - Millward, C. M. (1996). A Biography of the English Language (2 nd ed.). Harcourt Brace College Publishers. - Notes by Daniel Currie Hall (which is largely based on Millward’s first edition)
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LIN204H1S English Grammar Winter/Spring 2009 Week 11 – II Middle English 2/9 2. Dialects of ME (1) Dialect areas in ME (Barber 1993:137, Fig. 10) 3. Morphological changes from OE to ME ME saw a great reduction in the inflectional system inherited from OE – ME is sometimes referred to as “the period of weakened inflections”. Several reasons for inflectional reduction in ME i) Similar but different systems, OE and ON, coexisted. Bilinguals, when they weren’t certain or confused, etc., might have tended to rely on other grammatical devices than inflectional system in their language.
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