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.