Historical Background of the Middle English Period icon

Historical Background of the Middle English Period

НазваниеHistorical Background of the Middle English Period
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Historical Background of the Middle English Period

“Historical Background of the Middle English Period” Plan. 1. The problem of periodization. The role of the Middle English Period in the history of English language. 2. The influence of the Scandinavian invasions. 3. The Norman Conquest. 4. Early Middle English dialects. Neighborhood of three languages in England. 5. Written records of the M. E. P. 6. Late M. E. P. 7. Development of English dialects and the rise of London dialect. The historical development of a language is a continuous,uninterrupted process without sudden breaks or rapid transformations.Therefore any periodisation imposed on language history by linguists, withprecise dates, might appear artificial. There are some periodizations ofthe history of English language. The author of the first scientifichistorical phonetic and grammar of En. Language. H. Sweet suggested theperiodization that corresponds to the morphological structure of differentcentures. He called the Old English Period – ‘The period of full endings ‘,the M. E. P. – ‘The period of reduced endings’ , the New En. P. – ‘Theperiod of lost endings.’ But this periodization is not full because it isnot quite right to devide the logical features, but phonological orsyntactical ones (they were not mentioned in the periodization.) So, thus Iconsider that any periodization is based on some principles, but can’ttouch all the sides of the language. One of the prominent and well-known English scientists Henry Sweetworked out several periodisations of the history of English language. Hesuggested to single out the period of transition and to subdivide thetransitional stage between the Old and the Middle English Periods cover1100-1200. H. Sweet reckoned 1200 to be the limning of the Middle Englishbased on morphological phenomena the Middle English Period is considered tole the Period of Levelled English. Another periodization is extralinguistical. It’s based on thehistorical events, which influenced on the English language. I must noticethat this one is the most traditional. The commonly accepted traditionalperiodization divides English language history into three periods: OldEnglish, Middle English and New English with boundaries attached todefinite dates and historical effects affecting the language. Old Englishis connected with the German settle in Britain (5th century) and with thebeginning of writing (7th century) and ends with the Norman Conquest(1066). Middle English begins with Norman Conquest end ends on theintroduction of printing (1475). The Middle English period itself may bealso divided into two smaller ones – Early Middle English and Late MiddleEnglish. Early Middle English covers the main events of the 14th century. Itis the stage of greatest dialectal divergence caused by the feudal systemand by foreign influences-Scandinavian and French. The dialectal divisionof present-day English owes its origin to this period of history. Greatchanges of the language took place at all the levels, especially in lexisand grammar. Later 14th till the end of the 15th century is a time known as Lateor Classical Middle English. This period umbra’s the age of Chaucer, thegreatest English medieval writer and forerunner of the English Renaissanu,and is characterized by restoration of English to the position of the stateand literary language and by literary flourishing, which has a stabilizingeffect on language, so that the rate of linguistic changes was slowed down.At the same time the written forms of the language developed and improved. The Old English period in the history of the language corresponds tothe position of the state and literary language corresponds to thetransitional stage from the slave-owning and tribal system to the feudalsystem in the history of Britain. In the 11th century feudalism was alreadywell established. According to a survey made in the late 11th c. slaves andfreemen were declining classes. The majority of the agricultural population(and also of the total population, which amounted to about 2.000.000people) was bound to their lord and land. Under natural economy,characteristre of feudalism, most of the things needed for the life of thelord and the villain were produced on the estate. Feudal manors wereseparated from their neighbors by tells, local feuds, and variousrestrictions concerning settlement, traveling and employment. Thesehistorical conditions produced a certain influence on the development ofthe language. In Early M.E. the differences between the regional dialects grew.Never in history, before or after, was the historical background morefavorable for dialectal differentiation. The main is the dialectal divisionin England, which survived in later ages with some slight modification ofthe feudal stage of British history. In the age poor communication dialect boundaries often coincided withgeographical barriers such as rivers, mashes, forests, and mountains, asthese barriers would hinder the diffusion of linguistic features. In addition to economic, geographical and social conditions,dialectal differences in Early M.E. were accentuated by some historicalevents, namely the Scandinavian invasions and the Norman Conquest. Though the Scandinavian invasions of England are dated in the OldEnglish period, there effect on the language is particularly apparent inM.E. Eventually the Scandinavians were absorbed into the local populationboth ethnically and linguistically, because new settlers and the Englishintermarried and intermixed; they lived close together and didn’t differeither in social rank or in the level of culture and customs; theyintermingled the more easily as there was no linguistic barrier betweenthem. The increased regional differences of English in the Scandinavianinfluence in the areas of the heaviest settlement the Scandinaviansoutnumbered the Anglo-Saxon population, which is attested by geographicalnames. In Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Northumberland, Cumberland-up to 75 percent of the place-names is Danish or Norwegian. Altogether more than 1.400English villages and towns bear names of Scandinavian origin (with theelement “thorp” meaning “village”, e.g. Woodthorp, Linthorp; “toft”, “apiece of land”, e. g. “Brimtoft”, “Lowestoft”). Probably, in many districtspeople became bilingual, with either Old Norse or English prevailing.Besides due to the contacts and mixture with O Seand, the Northern dialects(chiefly North Umbrian and East Mercian) had acquired lasting and somethingindelible Scandinavian features. We find a large admixture of Scandinavianwords in Early M.E. records coming from the North East whereas contemporarytext from other regions are practically devoid of Scandinavian borrowings. In later ages the Scandinavian element passed into other regions. Theincorporation of the Scandinavian element in the London dialect andStandard English was brought about by the changing linguistic situation inEngland: the mixture if the dialects and the grooving linguisticunification. Soon after Canute’s death (1042) and the collapse of his empire theold Anglo-Saxon line was restored but their reign was short-lived. The newEnglish king, Edward the Confessor (1942-1066), who had been reared inFrance, brought over many Norman advisors and favorites; he distributedamong them English lands and wealth to the considerable resentment of theAnglo-Saxon nobility and church hierarchy. He not only spoke French himselfbut insisted on it being spoken by the nobles at his court. William, Dukeof Normandy, visited his court and it was rumored that Edward appointed himhis successor. In many respites Edward paved the for Norman infiltrationlong before the Norman Conquest. However, the government of the country wasstill in the hands of Anglo-Saxon feudal lords, headed by the powerful EarlGodwin of Wessex. In 1066, upon Edward’s death, the Elders of England proclaimed HaroldGodwin king of the English. As soon as the news reached William ofNormandy, he mustered a big army by promise of land and plunder (one thirdof his soldiers were Normans, other, mercenaries from all over Europe) and,with the support of the Pope, landed in Britain. In the battle of Hastings, fought in October 1066, Harold was killedand the English were defeated. This date is commonly known as the date ofthe Norman Conquest, though the military occupation of the country was notcompleted until a few years later. After the victory of Hastings, Williamby passed London cutting it off from the North and made the William ofLondon and the bishops at Westminster Abbey crown him king. William hisbarons laid waster many lands in England, burning down villages andestates. They conducted a relentless campaign of subjugation, devastatedand almost depopulated Northumbria and Mercia, which tried to rise againstthe conquerors. Huge stone Norman castles if earthen forts and woodenstockades, built during the campaign, soon replaced scores. Most of thelands of the Anglo-Saxon lords passed into the hands of the Norman barons,William’s own possession comprising about one third of the country. TheNormans occupied all the important ports in the church, in thee governmentand in the army. Following the conquest hundreds of people from France crossed theChannel to make their home in Britain were also dukes of Normandy and,about a hundred years later, took possession of the whole western half ofFrance, thus bringing England into still closer contact with the continent.French monks, tradesmen and craftsmen flooded the southwestern towns, sothat not only the higher nobility but also much of the middle class wasFrench. The Norman Conquest was not only a great event in British politicalhistory but also the greatest single event in the history of the Englishlanguage. Its earliest effect was a drastre change in the linguisticsituation. The Norman Conquerors of England had originally come fromScandinavia. About one hundred and fifty years before they scized thevalley of the Scine and settled in what was henceworth known as Normandy.They were swiftly assimilated by the French and in the 11th century came toBritain as French speakers and bearers of French culture. They spoke theNorthern dialect if French, which differed in some points from Central,Parisian French. Their tongue in Britain is often reffered to as ‘Anglo-French’ or ‘Anglo-Norman’, but may just as well be called French, since weare less concerned here with the distinction of French dialects than withthe continuous French influence upon English, both in the Norman period ofhistory and a long while after the Anglo-Norman language had ceased toexist. In the early 13th c., as a result of lengthy and inefficient warswith France John Lackland lost the French provinces, including the dukedomof Normandy. Among other consequences the loss of the lands in France cutoff the Normans in Britain from France, which speeded up the Anglo-France,which speeded up the decline of the Anglo-French language. The most immediate consequence of the Norman domination in Britainis to be seen in the wide use of the French language in many spheres oflife. For almost free hundred years French was the official language ofadministration: it was the language of the king’s court, the law courts,the church, the army and the castle. It was also every day language of manynobles, of the higher clergy and of many townspeople in the South. Theintellectual life, literature and education were in the hands of French-speaking people; French, alongside Latin, was the language of writing.Teaching was largely conducted in French and boys at school were taught totranslate their Latin into French instead of English. For all that, England never stopped being an English-speakingcountry. The bulk of the population held fast to their own tongue: thelower classes in the towns, and especially in the country-side, those wholived in the Midlands and up north, continued to speak English and lookedupon French as foreign and hostile. Since most of the people wereilliterate, the English language was almost exclusively used for spokencommunication. At first the two languages existed side by side without mingling.Then, slowly and quickly, they began to permeate each other. The Normanbarons and the French town-dwellers had to pick up English words to makethemselves understood while the English began to use French words incurrent speech. аgood knowledge of French would mark a person of higherstanding giving him a certain social prestige probably many people becomebilingual and had a fair command of both languages. These peculiar linguistic conditions could not remain static. Thestruggle between French and English was bound to end ion the completevictory of English, for English was the living language of the entirepeople, while French was restricted to certain social spheres and towriting. Yet the final victory as still a long way off. In the 13th c. onlya few steps were made in that direction. The earliest sign of the officialrecognition of English by the Norman hinges was the famous Proclamationissued by Henry 3 in 1258 to the councilors in Parliament. It was writtenin three languages: French, Latin and English. The three hundreds years of the domination of French affected Englishmore than any other foreign influence before or after. The early Frenchborrowings reflect accurately the spheres of Norman influence upon Englishlife; later borrowings can by attributed to the continued cultural,economic and political contacts between the countries. The French influenceadded new features to the regional and social differentiation of thelanguage. New words, coming from French, could not be adoptedsimultaneously by all the speakers if English; they were first used in somevarieties of the language, namely in the regional dialects of SouthernEngland and in the speech if the upper classes, but were unknown in theother varieties of the language. The use of a foreign tongue as the state language, the diversity ofthe dialects and the decline of the written form of English created asituation extremely favorable for increased variation and for moreintensive linguistic change. The regional M.E. dialects had developed from respective OE dialects.аprecise map of all the dialects will probably never be made, foravailable sources are scare and unreliable: localized and their approximateboundaries have been determined largely by inference; for later ME thedifficulty lies in the growing dialect mixture. With these reservation the following dialect groups can bedistinguished in Early M.E. The Southern group included the Kentish and the South-Westerndialects. Kentish was a direct descendant of the O.E. Saxon dialects, - notonly West Saxon, but also East Saxon. The East Saxon dialect was notprominent in OE but became more important in Early M.E., since it made thebasis of the dialect of London in the 12th and 13th c. Among the dialectsof this group the Gloucestes dialect and the London dialect may bementioned. The group of Midland (‘Central’) dialect – corresponding to the OEMercian dialect – is divided into West Midland and East Midland as two mainareas, with further subdivisions within: South-East midland and North-EastMidland, South-west Midland and North-West Midland. In M.E. the Midlandarea became more diversified linguistically than the OE Mercian kingdomoccupying approximately the same territory: from the Thames in the South tothe Welsh-speaking area in the West and up north to the river Humber. The Northern dialect had developed from OE Northumbrian. In EarlyM.E. the Northern dialects included several provincial dialects, e.g. theYorkshire and the Lancashire dialects, and also what later became known asScottish. In the course Early M.E. the area if the English language in theBritish Isles grew. Fallowing the Norman Conquest the former Celtickingdoms fell under Norman recluse. Wales was subjugated in the late 12thc. the English made their first attempts to conquest Ireland. The invaderssettled among the Irish and were soon assimilated, a large proportion ofthe invaders being Welshmen. Though part of Ireland was ruled from England,the country remained divided and had little contact with England. TheEnglish language was used there alongside Celtic languages-Irish and Welsh– and was influenced by Celtic. The E.M.E. dialectal division was preserved in the succeedingcenturies, though even in Late M.E. the linguistic situation changed. InEarly M.E. while the state language and the main language of literature wasFrench, the local dialects were relatively equal. In Late M.E., whenEnglish had been reestablished as the main language of administration andwriting, one of the regional dialects, the London dialect, prevailed overthe others. For a long time after the Norman Conquest there were two writtenlanguages in England, both of them foreign: Latin and French. English washeld in disdain as a tongue used only by common illiterate people and notfit for writing. In some dialects the gap in the written tradition spannedalmost two hundred years. The earliest samples of Early M.E. prose are the new entriesmade in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles from the year 1122 to the year 1154,known as the Peterborough Chronicle. The works in the vernacular, which began to appear towards theend of the 12th c., were mostly of a religions nature. The great mass ofthese works are homilies, sermons in prose and verse, paraphrases from theBible, psalms and prayers. The earliest of these religious works, the PoemaMorala (‘Moral Ode’) represent the Kentish dialect of the late 12th or theearly 13th. Of particular interest for the history of the language is‘Ormulum’, a poem composed by the monk Orm in about 1200 in the North-EastMidland dialect (Lineolnshire). It consist of unrhymed metricalparaphrases of the Gospels. The text abounds in Scandinavianists and lacsFrench borrowings. Its most outstanding feature is the spelling systemdevised by the author. He doubled the consonants after short vowels inclosed syllables and used special semicircular marks over short vowels inopen syllables. Here are some lines from the poem where the authorrecommends that these rules should be followed I copying the poem. Among other works of religious nature we can mention ‘Ancrene Riwle’(‘The Rule of Anchorites’), a prose treatise in the Northern dialect:‘Cursor Mundi’, an amplified version of the Gospels, and ‘the Pricke ofConscience’, a translation attributed to Richard Rolle of Hampole. Alongside these religious works there sprang up a new kind of secularliterature inspired by the French romances of chivalry. Romances were longcomposition in verse or prose, describing the life and adventures ofknights. The great majority of romances fell into groups or cyclesconcerned with a limited number of matters. Those relating to the ‘matterof Britain’ were probably the most popular and original works of Englishpoets, though many of them were paraphrased from French. One of the earliest poems of this type was ‘Brut’ composed by Layamonin the early 13th c. It is a free rendering of the 12th c., which tellsthe story of the legendary foundation of Britain by Brutus, the allegedgreat grandson of Aeneas of Troy; the last third of the poem is devoted toBrut’s most famous descendant, the mythical British King Arthur and his‘Knights of the Round Table’, Who became the favourite subject of Englishknightly romances. The poem is written in alliterative verse with aconsiderable number of rhymes. It is noteworthy that the West Midlanddialect of Brut, thought nearly a century and a half after the NormanConquest, contains very few French words; evidently the West Midlands wereas yet little affected by French influence. Some romances deal with more resemnt events and distinctly Englishthemes: episodes of the Crusades of Scandinavian invasions. ‘Havelock theDane (East Midland dialect of the later 13th c.) narrates the adventures ofa Danish prince who was saved by a fisherman, Grim (the founder ofGrimsby). Another poem in the same dialect and century, ‘King Horn’, ismore of a love story. Doth poems make use of characters and plots found inFrench sources but are nevertheless original English productions. Among the Early M. E. texts in the South-Western dialects we shouldmention ‘ The London Proclamation’ of the year 1258 and the political poemsof the early 14th c. which voiced the complaint of the poor against theiroppressors. In the poem ‘Evil Times of Edward2’ the unknown authordescribed the vices of the clergy and the nobility as the causes of thewretched condition of the people. Those were the earliest M.E. texts in theLondon dialect. Early M.E. written records represent different local dialects,which were relatively equal as forms of the written language, beneath thetwofold oppression of Anglo-Norman and Latin writing. They retained acertain literary authority until it was overshadowed in the 14th c. by theprestige of the London written language. The domination of the French language in England came to an end in thesource of the 14th c. The victory of English was predetermined and preparedfor by previous events and historical conditions. Little by little theNormans and English drew together and intermingled. In the 14th c. Anglo-Norman was a dead language; it appeared as corrupt French to those who hadaccess to the French of Paris through books, education or direct contacts.The number of people who Knew French had fallen; Anglo-Norman and Frenchliterary compositions had lost their audience and had to be translated intoEnglish. Towards the end of the 14th c. the English language had taken theplace of French as the language of literature and administration. Englishwas once more the dominant speech of all social classes in all regions. Ithad ousted French since it had always remained the mother tongue and theonly spoken language of the bulk of the population. It may be interesting to mention some facts showing how the transitioncame about. In 1362 Edward 3 gave his consent to an act of Parliamentordaining that English be used in the law courts, sine ‘French has becomemuch unknown in the realm’. This reform, however, was not carried out foryears to come: French, as well as Latin, continued to be used by lawyersalongside English until the 16th c. Yet many legal documents which havesurvived from the late 14th and 15th c. are written in English: wills,municipal acts, petitions. In 1363, for the first tome in history,Parliament was opened by the King’s chancellor with an address in English.In 1399 King Henry 4 used English in his official speech when accepting thethrone. In 1404 English diplomats refused to conduct negotiations withFrance in French, claiming that the language was unknown to them. All theseevents testify to the recognition of English as the state language. Howly and inevitably English regained supremey in the field ofeducation. As early as 1349 it was ruled that English should be used atschool in teaching Latin, but it was not until 1385 that the practicebecame general, and even the universities began to conduct their curriculain English. By the 15th c. the ability to speak French had come to beregarded as a special accomplishment, and French like Latin, was learnt asa foreign language. At the end of the 15th c. William Caxton, the firstEnglish printer, observed: ‘the most quantity of the people understand notLatin nor French here in this noble realm of England’. One might have expected that the triumph of English would lead toweakening of the French influence upon English. In reality, however, theimpact of French became more apparent. As seen from the surviving writtentexts, French loan-words multiplied at the very time when English became amedium of general communication. The large-scale influx of French loads canbe attributed to several causes. It is probably that many French words hadbeen in current use for quite a long time before they were first recorded.As it was aforementioned records in Early M.E. were scare and came mostlyfrom the Northern and Western regions, which were least affected by Frenchinfluence. Later M.N. texts were produced in London and in the neighboringareas, with a mixed and largely bilingual population. In numeroustranslation from French – which became necessary when the French languagewas going out of use-many loan-words were employed for the sake of greaterprecision, for want of a suitable native equivalent or due to thetranslator’s inefficiency. It is also important that in the course of the14th c. the local dialects were brought into closer contact; theyintermixed and influenced one another: therefore the infiltration of Frenchborrowings into all the local and social varieties of English progressedmore rapidly. As with other foreign influences, the impact of French is to be found,first and foremost, in the vocabulary. The layers and the semantic spheresof the French borrowings reflect the relations between the Norman rulersand the English population, the dominance of the French language inliterature and the contacts with French culture. The prevalence of Frenchas the language of writing led to numerous changes in English spelling. The dialect division which evolved in Early M.E. was on the wholepreserved in later periods. In the 14th and 15th c. the same grouping ofdialects was present: the Southern group. Including Kentish and the South-Western dialects, the Midland group with its minute subdivision and theNorthern group. And yet the relations among them were changing. Theextension of trade beyond the conjines of local boundaries, the growth oftowns with a mixed population favored the intermixture and amalgamation ofthe regional dialects. More intensive inter-influence of the dialects,among other facts is attested by the penetration of Scandinavian loan-wordsinto the West-Midland and Southern dialects from the North and by thespread of French borrowings in the reverse direction. The most importantwent in changing linguistic situation was the rise of the London dialect asthe prevalent written form of language. The history of the London dialect reveals the sources of the literarylanguage in Late M.E. and also the main source and basis of the LiteraryStandard, both in its written and spoken forms. The Early M.E. records made in London-beginning with the Proclamationof 1258 – show that the dialect of London was fundamentally East Saxon; interms of the M.E. division, it belonged to the South-Western dialect group.Later records indicate that the speech of London was becoming more mixed,with East Midland features gradually prevailing over the Southern features.The most likely explanation for the change if the dialect type and for themixed character of London English lies in the history of the Londonpopulation. In the 12th and 13th c. the inhabitants of London came from the south-western district. In the middle of the 14th c. London was practicallydepopulated during the ‘Black Death’ (1348) and later outbreaks of bubonicplague. It has bun estimated that about one third of the population ofBritain died in the epidemies, the highest proportion of deaths occurringin London. The depopulation was speedily made good and in 1377 London hadover 35.000 inhabitants. Most of the new arrivals came from the East Midlands: Norfolk,Suffolk, and other populous and wealthy counties of Malieval England,although not bordering immediately on the capital. As a result the speechof Londoners was brought much closer to the East Midland dialect. Theofficial and literary papers produced in London in the late 14th c. displayobvious East Midland in features. The London dialect became more Anglianthan Saxon in character. This mixed dialect of London, which had extended to the twouniversities (in Oxford and Cambridge) ousted French from official spheresand from the sphere of writing. The flourishing of literature, which marks the seconds half of the14th c., apart from its cultural significance, testifies, to the completerustablishment of English as the language of writing. Some authors wrote intheir local dialect from outside London, but most of them used the Londondialect or forms of the language combining London and provincial traits.Towards the end of the century the London dialect had become the principaltype of language used in literature a sort of literary ‘pattern’ to beimitated by provincial authors. The literary text of the late 14th c. preserved in numerousmanuscripts, belong to a variety of genres. Translation continued, butoriginal composition were produced in abundance; party was more prolificthan prose. This period of literary florescence is known as the ‘age ofChaucer’; the greatest name in English literature before Shakespeare otherwriters are referred to as ‘Chaucer’s contemporaries’). One of the prominent authors of the time was John de Trevisa ofCornwall. In 1387 he completed the translation of seven books on worldhistory - ‘Polychronicon’ by R. Higden – from Latin into the South-Westerndialect of English. Among other information it contains some curiousremarks about languages used in English: ‘ Trevisa:…gentle men have nowleft to teach (i.e. ‘stopped teaching’) their children French. …Higden: Itsums a great wonder how Englishmen and their own language and tongue is sodiverse in sound in this one island and the language of Normandy comingfrom another land has one manner of sound among all men that speak it rightin England…men of the East with men of the West, as it were under the samepared of heaven, award more in the sound of their speech than men if theNorth with men of the South. Of Greatest linguistic consequence was the activity of John Wyclif(1324-1384), the forerunner of the English Reformation. His most importantcontribution to English prose was his (and his pupils’) translation of theBible completed in 1384. He also wrote pamphlet protesting against thecorruption of the Church. Wyelif’s Bible was copied in manuscript and readby many people all over the country. Written in the London dialect, itplayed an important role in spreading this form of English. The chief poets of the time, besides Chaucer, were John Gower, WilliamLangland and, probably, the unknown author of ‘Sir Gawaine and the GreenKnight’). The remarkable poem of William Langland ‘The Vision Coneerning Piersthe Plowman’ was written in a dialect combining West Midland and Londonfeatures; it has survived in three versions, from 1362 to 1390; it is anallegory and a satire attacking the vises and weaknesses of various socialclasses and sympathizing with the wretchedness of the poor. It is presentedas a series of visions appearing to the poet in his dreams. He susdiversepeople and personifications of vices and virtues and explains the way tosalvation, which is to serve Truth by work and love. The poem is written inthe old alliterative verse and shows no touch of Anglo-Norman influence. John Gover, Chaucer’s friend and an outstanding poet of the time, wasborn in Kent, but there are not many Kentisins in his London dialect. Hisfirst poems were written in Anglo-Norman and in Latin. His longest poem‘Vox Clamantis’ (’the Voice of the Crying in the Wilderness’) is in Latin;it deals with Watiyler’s rebellion and condemns all roans of Society forthe sins which brought about the terrible revolt. His last long poem I isin English: Confession Amantis (‘The Lover’s Confession), a composition of40000 acto-syllabis . It contains a vast collection of stories drawn fromvarious sources and arranged to illustrate the seven deadly sins. JohnGower told his tales easily and vividly and for long was almost as popularas Chaucer. There was one more poet whose name is unknown. Four poems found in asingle manuscript of the 14th c. – ‘Peasl’, ‘Patience’, ‘Cleanness’, and‘Sir Gawaineand the Green Knight’ – have been attributed to the sameauthor. Incidentally, the latter poet belongs to the popular Arthuriancycle of Knightly romances, though the episodes narrated as well as theform are entirely original. The poems are a blending of collaboratealliteration, in line with the OE tradition, and new rhymed verse, with avariety of difficult rhyme schemes. Geoffrey Chaucer (1340-1400) was by far the most outstanding figure ofthe time. аhundred years later William Caxon, the first English printer,called him ‘the worshipful father and fist founder and embellisher ofornate eloquence in our language. ‘In many books on the history of Englishliterature and the history of English Chaucer is described as the founderof the literary language. His carried works more of less imitative if other authors – Latin,French or Italian – though they bear abundant evidence of his skill. Henever wrote in any other language than English. The culmination of Chaucer‘s work as a poet ; his great unfinished collection of stories ‘TheCanterbury Tales’. Chaucer wrote in a dialect which in the main coincided with that usedin documents produced in London shortly before his time and for a long timeafter. Although he did not really create the literary language, as a poetof outstanding talent he made better use if it than contemporaries and setup 2 pattern to be followed in the 15th c. His poems were copied so manytimes that over sixty manuscripts of ‘The Cantervary Tales’ have survivedto this day. No books were among the first to be printed, a hundred yearsafter their Compositon. Chauser’s literary language, based in the mixed (lavgely East Midland) London dialect is known as classical M.E. In the 15th and 16th c. itbecame the basis of the national literary English language. The 15th c. could produce nothing worthy to rank with Chaucer. The twoprominent poets, Thomas Hoccleve and John Lydgate, were chicflytranslators and imitators. The style of Caucer’s successors is believed tohave drawn farther away from everyday speech; it was highly effected incharacter, abounding in abstact words and strongly influenced by Latinrhetoric (it is termed ‘aureate language’). Whereas in English literature the decline after Chaucer is apparent,the literature of Scotland forms a Northern dialect of English flourishedfrom the 13th until the 16th c. ‘The Bruce’ , written by John Barbourbetween 1373 and 1378 is a national epic, which describes the real historyof Rolert Bruce a hero and military chief who defeated the army of Edward 2at Bannockburn in 1314 and secured the independence of Scotland. This poemwas followed by others, composed by prominent 15th c. poets: e.g. ‘Wallace’attributed to Henry the Minstel; ‘ Kind’s Quhair’ (King’s Book’) by KingJames of Scotland. Bibliography 1. Iliyish B. ‘History of the English Language’, Leningrad, 1983, 351p. 2. Rastorgueva T.A. ‘аHistory of English’, Moscow, 1983, 347p. 3. Ярцева В. Н. ‘Развитие национального литературного английского языка’, М., 1969. 4. Костюченко Ю. П. ‘История английского языка’, К. 1953б 360с. 5. Ярцева В. Н. ‘История английского языка 9-15 в. в.’, М 6. Иванова, Чахоян, Беляева. «История английского языка», К.: 1996

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