Intro to middle english Essay

Submitted By nuraazahmed
Words: 488
Pages: 2

At any given time, there is no single variety of English. Americans using the spelling color, whereas most of the rest of the world uses colour. Americans say tomayto; most people in other countries say tomahto. In the Southern United States, you might hear y’all, whereas in the Northeast you might hear yous. This sort of variation also existed in Middle English, but much more so than in Modern English today. Middle English had many dialects, and scribes by and large wrote in their own dialect, sometimes mixing them if they were copying a document written in a different dialect. There were few of the standardising influences that encourage a certain amount of uniformity today. Many variations occurred at all levels of grammar, particularly pronunciation and grammatical inflection. Multiple spellings frequently represent these differences; however, sometimes they merely reflect local writing conventions.
The result of all this variation is that reading Middle English was a very different process for its original speakers than reading is today. As Modern English speakers, we don’t just need to learn a et of vocabulary and idioms that hasn’t survived today; we need to acquire a new set of skills for how to look at the words on the page. This handout is designed to get you started in the process. Although you’ll have to do much of your learning on the fly by recognising words and expressions as you encounter them repeatedly. There are a few ways in which you can help yourself by some rote memorisation up front. This is particularly the case with pronunciation and grammatical inflection.
The pronunciation of English has changed a great deal over the past six or seven hundred years. Many consonants originally pronounced (and surviving in our spelling today) have since become silent. But by far the biggest change is to the vowels. Starting roughly in the fifteenth century, English…