Sunday, 6 October 2013

From French to Middle English

William the Conqueror and his nights brought the French language into England. The variety of French used is known as Anglo-Norman. English became a vernacular language, it lost all status. The Church continued to use Latin, the Court French. Written evidence has been found of that situation. English began to have loanwords which came from French. 

Costume, apparel and robe (Fr.)
Animals in the field kine, ox, swine (Eng) but on the table veal, mutton, pork (Fr.) 
The first sentence taught to us by Miss Shackleton was
'Six éléves chasses troi porcs au tour de mur.'
Six scholars chase three pigs round the wall.
Memory of a French lesson long ago.

1204 when King John lost all lands in France earning him the name 'Lackland'. English rose in importance and French diminished.

Fourteenth Century is acknowledged as the beginning of the Early Modern Period.

1385 Grammar schools in England adopted English and abandoned French tutelage. 

1399 Henry IV the first monarch since the Conquest to use English as his first language.

Middle English words can still be found in the dialects of today.

Middle English dialects
Old English  (Southern) West Saxon
South-Eastern (Kentish)
Old East Mercian (East Midland and West Midland)
Old English Northumbrian (Northern - North of the Humber)

In the 1300s, variety of speech/writing was the norm.

Trevisa’s 1385 translation of Higden, is evidence for the decline of French. It embellishes the original author’s remarks about northern dialects of English, as evident in this extract from the modernised version of his translation. Can you identify the different criteria that he uses in evaluating ‘the language of the Northumbrians’ here?

Sharp / piercing / rasping sounds
Unshaped words
Unintelligible to Southerners

So, it seems in the 1300s the North-South Divide was much in evidence. Indeed the proximity of Northern England to Scotland (where dwelt 'aliens') is commented upon. The North / Northerners as uncouth.
Southern dialects were seen as almost the norm.

Standardisation - selection - codification - elaboration and implementation

Caxton's printing machine brought about a need for standardisation. 

From 1430 onwards government documents were written in English.

"The Parliamentary Archives hold millions of historical records relating to both Houses of Parliament dating from 1497." 

Not Salford

Yesterday was the first official day of the course and an opportunity to attend a tutorial. The OU have a system whereby you can ask to attend at a different venue. So I went to my nearest and was welcomed by the tutor.
He seems the sort to inspire confidence, which is a very good thing.

He said some students had contacted him to ask for notes from the tutorial as they could not attend. Then came the surprise! He does not do/offer notes. To put it simply, he turns up, you turn up and you make notes for yourself.

We did the brief introduce yourself intro and one person had travelled from the Isle of Man. Another is originally from Edinburgh, she's softly spoken and with that accent I tended to let her words drift by. 

Another person arrived, stayed a while before realising she was in the wrong room! Tutor gallantly escorted her to the right room.

I'd panicked earlier as when I looked at the notices it seemed I'd missed the tutorial. Fortunately I found later down the list the second tutorial by that tutor. Seems the earlier one had been with his February group.

Then we began in earnest whizzing thro' a history of the English language pointing out salient events.

HEPTARCHY - Wessex, Sussex, Essex, Kent, Northumbria, Mercia and E. Anglia - a loose confederation of kingdoms (Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Frisians). From - Southern Denmark, Germany / Holland and Northern Denmark. Their influence spread west to Offa's Dyke, SW to the Tamar? north to Northumbria. 
Offa's Dyke is a huge linear earthwork structure which runs roughly along the current border between England and Wales. Construction is believed to have started in 785 and continued for several years.

The Roman Empire shrank and soldiers were withdrawn back to Rome.
 AD 43, the Roman legions march in; AD 410, they march out again.
Romans had pacified the people of Roman Britain.

Old English
Celts left little evidence as they were a conquered people and mostly illiterate. With the exception of clergy who wrote in Latin.

1066 the Norman Conquest introduced Norman French language. Its influence grew from 1066 to 1399.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Worlds of English - another foray into academia.

Reflect on the role English has played in your life. U214 Worlds of English

What languages or dialects were you exposed to when you were growing up? 
Lancashire, Derbyshire  and Yorkshire dialects.

Who had the most influence on the language you learnt as a child? 
Parents, neighbours and school teachers.

How did your education affect your attitudes to language? 
No problems in junior school where I developed a love of reading and writing. The last teacher was Miss Astley and she spoke in a more refined voice. She was referred to by some pupils a ghastly Astley simply because that was how to pronounce her name (gh)Astley. 

Grammar school - teachers were determined to knock out traces of dialect and made a mockery of 'mispronunciation'. I/we ended up adapting by speaking dialect with classmates and 'proper' English to teachers. 
In lower 3 alpha we had our headmistress as English teacher. I still remember to this day.
'First we shall have bread, and then we will have cake'.
Translated as 
1. Grammar in all its nuances, parsing nouns and pronouns, spelling and punctuation.
2. Cake - Homer's 'Odyssey'.

Were there any experiences related to language from your school days which have left a strong impression on you? 

Miss Astley introduced us to poetry, I still remember parts of 'Moonlit Apples' (Drinkwater) and 
'Silver' (de la Mare) 
Slowly, silently, now the moon
Walks the night in her silver shoon;

but never 'forgave' her mentioning 'While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.' 

Winter by Shakespeare

When icicles hang by the wall, 
And Dick the shepherd blows his nail,
And Tom bears logs into the hall,
And milk comes frozen home in pail,
When blood is nipp’d and ways be foul,
Then nightly sings the staring owl,
Tu-who, a merry note,

While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.

Miss Charlton introduced me to Homer, the school library helped me learn more about Myths and Legends. There I also came across Tolkien and saved up a long time until one by one I bought hard back copies of the LoTR. This in turn led me to discover 'Tree and Leaf', 'Farmer Giles of Ham' to name but two. Hence a developing love of etymology a fascination with words. 
Grammar school taught English, Latin and French. Oh what a relief to be allowed to drop Latin after two years, yet I'm thankful as it really has helped improve my vocabulary and understanding of terminology.

How have the activities you've engaged in since school (e.g. work, family life, pastimes) affected your language use?
Teacher training when we had to choose a children's book to review and I chose 'Land of Green Ginger'.

Teaching Practice in a junior school (Wigan) where the class took to me as I could speak their 'language'. I understood why some would write 'fur' as in it's not fur (fair). Similarly teaching in Merseyside  and picking up on dialect inspired spelling errors.
Holidays in Cornwall and having to get to grips with older folk who spoke what some termed 'proper Cornish', It took a long while to tune in by listening carefully until I could hold a conversation with some. Getting used to being called 'Maid' or 'Pard' hearing sayings such as 'madder do ee?' and its obligatory response, 'damned ee No!' Learning that much used word 'drekkly' the Cornish version of mañana. Better translated as 12th of never in the case of Cornwall.

Inadvertently recorded my self when I forgot to switch off the answer machine and was surprised how much of my Northern intonation remains. I know my speech changes when I head North to be amongst friends, similarly the vocab I used changed when in Cornwall. Conversations with Dutch friends, noticing how my spoken English changes when talking with them. The Dutch folk I have come across have been very good linguists. As a student said one time, 'Textbooks tend to be in English or German when studying at university.' 
How lucky am I to have English as my first language.

Studies with the OU and I attempted to learn Spanish, enough to cope or get by. The satisfaction when as a class we reached the stage of reading newspapers!

Developing my knowledge of sciences and with it a wholly different scientific vocabulary. Learning the art of reading with understanding. Extending and deepening language skills with the OU Library.

Who'd have thought such 'simple' questions would lead to a long response and allow me the delight on delving into my memories?