THE PRONOUN 6 страница

§ 290. In the course of Early ME the area of the English language in the British Isles grew. Following the Norman Conquest the former Celtic kingdoms fell under Norman rule. Wales was subjugated in the late 13th c.: its eastern half became part of England, while the North

A map of Middle English dialects

and West of Wales was a principality governed separately. In the late 12th c. the English made their first attempts to conquer Ireland. The invaders settled among the Irish and were soon assimilated, a large proportion of the invaders being Welshmen. Though part of Ireland was ruled from England, the country remained divided and had little contact with England. The English language was used there alongside Celtic languages—Irish and Welsh — and was influenced by Celtic.

§ 291. The Early ME dialectal division was preserved in the succeed­ing centuries, though even in Late ME the linguistic situation changed. In Early ME, while the state language and the main language of litera­ture was French, the local dialects were relatively equal. In Late ME, when English had been reestablished as the main language of administra­tion and writing, one of the regional dialects, the London dialect, pre­vailed over the others (see § 295, 301 ff).

Early Middle English Written Records

§ 292. For a long time after the Norman Conquest there were two written languages in England, both of them foreign: Latin and French. English was held in disdain as a tongue used only by common illiterate people and not fit for writing. In some dialects the gap in the written tradition spanned almost two hundred years.

The earliest samples of Early ME prose are the new entries made 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 the end ol the 12th c., were mostly of a religious nature. The great mass of these works are homilies, sermons in prose and verse, paraphrases from the Bible, psalms and prayers. The earliest of these religious works, the РОЕМА MORALE ("Moral Ode") represents the Kentish dialect of the late 12th or the early I3th c.

Of particular interest for the history of the language is ORMULUM, a poem composed by the monk Orm in about 1200 in the North-East Midland dialect (Lincolnshire). It consists of unrhymed metrical par­aphrases of the Gospels. The text abounds in Scandinavianisms and lacks French borrowings. Its most outstanding feature is the spelling system devised by the author. He doubled the consonants after short vowels in closed syllables and used special semicircular marks over short vowels in open syllables. Here are some lines from the poem where the au­thor recommends that these rules should be followed in copying the poem: Annd whase wilenn shall pis hoc And if anyone wants to efft operrsipe writenn, write this book another time,


Himm bidde icc patt het write rihht, I bid him that he write right swasumm piss boc himm as this book him teaches...


Annd tatt he loke wel patt he And that he sees to it"

an bocstall write twissess. that he write a letter twice

Esjwhsr paeritt uppo piss boc Where it in this book iss writenn о patt wise. is written in that way.

Among other works of religious nature we may mention ANCRENE RIWLE ("The Rule of Anchorites"), a prose treatise in the South-West­ern dialect of the early 13th c. and two later poems in the Northern dialect: CURSOR MUNDI, an amplified version of the Gospels, and the PRICKE OF CONSCIENCE, a translation attributed to Richard Rolle of Hampole.

§ 293. Alongside these religious works there sprang up a new kind of secular literature inspired by the French romances of chivalry. Ro­mances were long compositions in verse or prose, describing the life and adventures of knights. The great majority of romances fell into groups or cycles concerned with a limited number of matters. Those relating to the "matter of Britain" were probably the most popular and original works of English poets, though many of them were paraphrased from French. \

One of the earliest poems of this type was BRUT composed by Laya^ mon in the early 13th c. It is a free rendering of the BRUT D'ANGLE- TERRE by Wace, an Anglo-Norman writer of the 12th c., which tells the story of the legendary foundation of Britain by Brutus, the alleged great grandson of Aeneas of Troy; the last third of the poem is devoted to Brut's most famous descendant, the mythical British king Arthur and his "Knights of the Round Table", who became the favourite sub­ject of English knightly romances. The poem is written in alliterative verse with a considerable number of rhymes. It is noteworthy that the West Midland dialect of BRUT, though nearly a century and a half after the Norman Conquest, contains very few French words; evidently the West Midlands were as yet little affected by French influence.

§ 294. Some romances deal with more recent events and distinctly English Шгтэз: episodes of the Crusades or Scandinavian invasions. HAVELOK THE DANE (East Midland dialect of the late 13th c.) narrates the adventures of a Danish prince who was saved by a fisher­man, Grim (the founder of Grimsby). Another poem in the same dia­lect and century, KING HORN, is more of a love story. Both poems make use of characters and plots found in French sources but are nevertheless original English productions.

§295. Among the Early ME texts in the South-Western dialects we should mention THE LONDON PROCLAMATION of the year 1258 (see § 287) and the political poems of the early 14th c. which voiced the complaint of the роэг against their oppressors. In the poem EVIL TIMES OF EDWARD И the unknown author described the vices of the cler­gy and the nobility as the causes of the wretched condition of the people. Those were the earliest ME texts in the London dialect.

As seen from this survey Early ME written records represent differ­ent local dialects. The dialects ware relatively equal as forms of the written language, beneath the twofold oppression of An^lo-Norman and Latin writing. They retained a certain literary authority until it was overshadowed in the 14th c. by the prestige of the London written language.

Late Middle English. Reestablishment of English as the Language of the State and Literature

§ 296. The domination of the French language in England came to an end in the course of the 14th c. The victory of English was pre­determined and prepared for by previous events "and historical condi­tions (see §286).

Little by little the Normans and the English drew together and in­termingled. In the 14th c. Anglo-Norman was a dead language; it ap­peared as corrupt French to those who had access to ths French of Paris through books, education or direct contacts. The number of people who knew French had fallen; Anglo-Norman and French literary composi­tions had lost their audience and had to be translated into English.

Towards the end of the 14th c. the English language had taken the place of French as the language of literature and administration. Eng­lish was once more the dominant speech of all social classes in all re­gions. It had ousted French since it had always remained the mother tongue and the only spoken language of the bulk of the population.

§ 297. It may be interesting to mention some facts showing how the transition came about. In 1362 Edward III gave his consent to an act of Parliament ordaining that English should be used in the law courts, since "French has become much unknown in the realm". This reform, however, was not carried out for years to come: French, as well as Lat­in, continued to be used by lawyers alongside English until the 16th c. Yet many legal documents which have survived from the late 14th and 15th c, are written in English: wills, municipal acts, petitions. In 1363, for the first time in history, Parliament was opened by the king's chancellor with an address in English. In 1399 King Henry IV used English in his official speech when accepting the throne. In 1404 English diplomats refused to conduct negotiations with France in French, claim­ing that the language was unknown to them. All these events testify to the recognition of English as the state language.

Slowly and inevitably English regained supremacy in the field of education. As early as 1349 it was ruled that English should be used at schools in teaching Latin, but it was not until 1385 that the practice became general, and even the universities began to conduct their curric­ula in English. By the 15th c. the ability to speak French had come to be regarded as a special accomplishment, and French, like Latin, was learnt as a foreign language. At the end of the 15th c. "William Caxton, the first English printer, observed: "the most quantity of the people understand not Latin nor French here in this noble realm of England".

§ 298. One might have expected that the triumph of English would lead to a weakening of the French influence upon English. In reality, however, the impact of French became more apparent. As seen from the surviving written texts, French loan-words multiplied at the very time when English became a medium of general communication. The large-scale influx of French loans can be attributed to several causes. It is probable that many French words had been in current use for quite a long time before they were first recorded. We should recall that records in Early ME were scarce and came mostly from the Northern and West em regions, which were least affected by French influence. Later ME texts were produced in London and in the neighbouring areas, with a mixed and largely bilingual population. In numerous translations from French — which became necessary when the French language was going out of use— many loan-words were employed for the sake of greater precision, for want of a suitable native equivalent or due to the trans­lator's inefficiency. It is also important that in the course of the Hth c. the local dialects were brought into closer contact; they intermixed and influenced one another: therefore the infiltration of French borrow­ings into all the local and social varieties of English progressed more rapidly.

§ 299. As with other foreign influences, the impact of French is to be found, first and foremost, in the vocabulary. The layers and the se­mantic spheres of the French borrowings reflect the relations between the Norman rulers and the English population, the dominance of the French language in literature and the contacts with French culture (see § 577). The prevalence of French as the language of writing led to numerous changes in English spelling (see §357).

Dialects in Late Middle English. The London Dialect

§ 300. The dialect division which evolved in Early ME was on the whole preserved in later periods. In the 14th and 15th c. we find the same grouping of local dialects: the Southern group, including Kentish and the South-Western dialects, the Midland group with its minute subdi­visions and the Northern group. And yet the relations among them were changing. The extension of trade beyond the confines of local bounda­ries, the growth of towns with a mixed population favoured the inter­mixture and amalgamation of the regional dialects. More intensive inter-influence of the dialects, among other facts is attested by the pen­etration of Scandinavian loan-words into the West Midland and South­ern dialects from the North and by the spread of French borrowings in the reverse direction. The most important event in the changing linguistic situation was the rise of the London dialect as the prevalent written form of language.

§ 301. The history of the London dialect reveals the sources of the literary language in Late ME and also the main source and basis of the Literary Standard, both in its written and spoken forms.

The history of London extends back to the Roman period. Even in OE times London was by far the biggest town in Britain, although the capital of Wessex — the main OE kingdom — was Winchester. The capital was transferred to London a few years before the Norman conquest.

The Early ME records made in London — beginning with the PRO­CLAMATION of 1258 — show that the dialect of London was fundamen­tally East Saxon; tn terms of the ME division, it belonged to the South­western 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 of the dialect type and for the mixed character of Lon­don English lies in the history of the London population.

In the 12th and 13th c. the inhabitants of London came from the south-western districts. In the middle of the 14th c. London was practi­cally depopulated during the "Black Death" (1348) and later outbreaks of bubonic plague. It has been estimated that about one third of the pop­ulation of Britain died in the epidemics, the highest proportion of deaths occurring in London. The depopulation was speedily made good and in 1377 London had over 35,000 inhabitants.

Most of the new arrivals came from the East Midlands: Norfolk, Suffolk, and other populous and wealthy counties of Medieval England, although not bordering immediately on the capital. As a result the speech Londoners was brought much closer to the East Midland dialect. The official and literary papers produced in London in the late 14th c. dis­play obvious East Midland features. The London dialect became more Anglian than Saxon in character.

This mixed dialect of London, which had extended to the two uni­versities (in Oxford and Cambridge) ousted French from official spheres and from the sphere of writing.

Written Records in Late Middle English.

The Age of Chaucer

§ 392. The flourishing of literature, which marks tha sacond half of the Hth c., apart from its cultural significance, testifies to the complete ^establishment of English as the language of writing. Some authors wrote in their local dialect from outside London, but most of them used the Lon­don dialect, or forms of the language combining London and provincial traits. Towards the end of the century the London dialect had become the principal type of language used in literature, a sort of literary "pat­tern" to be imitated by provincial authors.

The literary texts of the late 14th c. preserved in numerous manu­scripts, belong to a variety of genres. Translation continued, but origi­nal compositions were produced in abundance; poetry was more prolific than prose. This period of literary florescence is known as the "age of Chaucer", the greatest name in English literature before Shakespeare. Other writers are referred to as "Chaucer's contemporaries".

§ 303. One of the prominent authors of the time was John de Trevisa of Cornwall. In 1387 he completed the translation of seven books on world history — POLYCHRONICON by R. Higden — from Latin into the South-Western dialect of English. Am^ng other information it contains some curious remarks about languages used in England: "Trevisa: ... gentle men have now left to teach (i. e. "stopped teaching") their children French... Higden: It seems a great wonder how Englishmen and their own language and tongue is so diverse in sound in this one island and the language of Normandy coming from anothar land has one manner of sound among all men that speak it right in England... men of the East with men of the West, as it were, under the same part of heaven, accord more in the sound of their speech than men of the North 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 im­portant contribution to English prose was his (and his pupils') transla­tion of the BIBLE completed in 1384. He also wrote pamphlete protest­ing against the corruption of the Church. Wyclif's BIBLE was copied in manuscript and read by many people all over the country. Written in the London dialect, it played an important role in spreading this form of English.

§ 304. The chief poets of the time, besides Chaucer, were John Gow- er, William Langland and, probably, the unknown author of SIR GA- WAINE AND THE GREEN KNIGHT.

The remarkable poem of William Langland THE VISION CONCERNtnjG PIERS THE PLOWMAN was written in a dialect combining West Midland and London features; it has survived in three versions, from 1362 to 1390; it is an allegory and a satire attacking the vices and weak­nesses of various social classes and sympathising with the wretchedness 0f the poor. It is presented as a series of visions appearing to the poet in his dreams. He sees diverse people and personifications of vices and virtues and explains the way to salvation, which is to serve Truth by work and love. The poem is written in the old alliterative verse and shows n0 touch of Anglo-Norman influence.

John Gower, Chaucer's friend and an outstanding poet of the time, Was born in Kent, but there are not many Kentisms in his London dia­lect His first 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 Wat Tyler's rebellion and condemns all ranks of society for the sins which brought about the terrible revolt. His last long poem is in English: CONFESSIO AMANTIS ("The Lover's Confession"), a composition of 40,000 octo-syllabic lines. It contains a vast collection of stories drawn from various sources and arranged to illustrate the seven deadly sins. John Gower. told his tales easily and vividly and for long was almost as popular as Chaucer.

Portrait of Chaucer (from a manuscript of the CANTERBURY TALES)

We should mention one more poet whose name is unknown. Four poems found in a single manuscript of the 14th c. — PEARL, PA­TIENCE,CLEANNESS and SIR GAWAINE AND THE GREEN KNIGHT — have been attributed to the same author. Incidentally, the latter poem belongs to the popular Arthurfan cycle of knightly romances (see § 293), though the episodes narrated as well as the form are entirely original. The poems are a blending of elaborate alliteration, in line with the OE tra- dilion, and new rhymed verse, with a variety of difficult rhyme schemes.


§ 305. Geoffrey Chau­cer (1340— 1400) was by far the most outstanding figure of the time. A hun­dred years later William Caxton, the first English printer, called him "the worshipful father and first founder and embel­lisher of ornate eloquen­ce in our language." In roany books on the his­tory of English litera­ture and the history of English Chaucer is de­scribed as the founder of *he literary language.


Chaucer was bom in London about the year 1340 and had the most varied experience as student, courtier, official, and member of Parlia­ment.

His early works were more or less imitative of other authors — Lat­in, French or Italian — though they bear abundant evidence of his skill. He never wrote in any other language than English. The culmination of Chaucer's work as a poet is his great unfinished collection of stories THE CANTERBURY TALES.

The Prologue oi (his poem, the masterpiece of English poetry, describes hoiv the poet found himseli at the Tabard Inn, in Southwark, bound on a pilgrimage to the shrine o[ St. Thomas Becket at Canterbury. There he met twenty-nine other pilgrims, who, at the suggestion of the host, agreed to liven up the journey by story-teUing. Chaucer lived to write only twenty-four stories out of the intended sixty, but in the Prologue he managed to give a most vivid picture of contem­porary England: he presented in the pilgrims a gallery of life-like portraits taken from all walks of life. In social position they range from knight and prioress to drunken cook and humble plowman — a doctor, a lawyer, a monk, a sailor, a car­penter, an Oxford scholar and many others. These people are shown as they ap­pear on the road, with their distinctive dress and features, and with a bit of their personal history. Even in their choice of tales they unconsciously reveal themselves, the stories being in harmony with the character of the narrators («. g. the knight Telates a story of chivalry).

Chaucer wrote in a dialect which in the main coincided with that used in documents produced in London shortly before his time and for a long time after. Although he did not really create the literary language, as a poet of outstanding talent he made better use of it than his contem­poraries and set up a pattern to be followed in the 15th c. His poems were copied so many times that over sixty manuscripts of THE CANTER­BURY TALES have survived to this day. His books were among the first to be printed, a hundred years after their composition.

Chaucer's literary language, based on the m'ixed (largely East Mid­land) London dialect is known as classical ME; in the 15th and 16th c. it became the basis of the national literary English language.

§ 306. The 15th c. could produce nothing worthy to rank with Chau­cer. The two prominent poets, Thomas Hoccleve and John Lydgatc, were chiefly translators and imitators. The style of Chaucer's successors is believed to have drawn farther away from everyday speech; it was highly affected in character, abounding in abstract words and strongly influenced by Latin rhetoric (it is termed "aureate language").

§307. Whereas in English literature the decline after Chaucer is apparent, the literature of Scotland forms a happy contrast. The Scot­tish language, which grew from a Northern dialect of English flourished from the 13th until the 16th c. THE BRUCE, written by John Barbour between 1373 and 1378 is a national epic, which describes the real his­tory of Robert Bruce, a hero and military chief who defeated the* army of Edward II at Bannockbum in 1314 and secured the independence of Scotland. This poem was followed by others, composed by prominent 15th c. poets: e. g. WALLACE attributed to Henry the Minstrel; KING'S QUHAIR ("King's Book") by King James I of Scotland.

§ 308. Principal Middle English Written Records ______________________
Approxi­mate dating Groups of Dialects
Kentish South, Western of West Midland London Scottish
Hth c. Dan Michael AY ENBITE OF INWIT Robert of Gloucester, a versified CHRO­NICLE SIR GAWAINE AND THE GREEN KNIGHT and other poems by the same author Higden: translation of POLYCHRONICON Romances ol Chi­valry: RICHARD COEUR DE LI­ON and others; Wyclifs works; Langland PIERS THE PLOW­MAN; Chaucer's works Gower's works Adam Davy's poems Romances of Chivalry; Miracle Plays CURSOR MUN- DI; Richard Rolle of Hampole: THE PRICK OF CON­SCIENCE J. Barbour: BRUCE; Henry the Minstrel: WALLACE
15th c. Hoccleve's poems Lydgate poems Th. Malory: MORTE D'AR­THUR York Plays James I: KING'S QUHAIR

Chapter Xll


Preliminary Remarks

§ 309. The formation of the national iiterary English language cov­ers the Early NE period (c. 1475—1660). Henceforth we can speak of the evolution of a single literary language instead of the similar or dif­ferent development of the dialects.[11]

There were at least two major external factors which favoured the rise of the national language and the literary standards: the unification of the country and the progress of culture. Other historical events, such as increased foreign contacts, affected the language in a less general way: they influenced the growth of the vocabulary.

Economic and Political Unification.

Conditions for Linguistic Unity

§ 310. As early as the 13th c., within the feudal system, new econom­ic relations began to take shape. The villain was gradually superseded by the copy-holder, and ultimately, by the rent-paying tenant. With the growing interest in commercial profits, feudal oppression grew and the conditions of the peasants deteriorated. Social discontent showed itself in the famous peasants' rebellions of the 14th and 15th c.

The village artisans and craftsmen travelled about the country look­ing for a greater market for their produce. They settled in the old towns and founded new ones near big monasteries, on the rivers and at the cross­roads. The crafts became separated from agriculture, and new social groups came into being: poor town artisans, the town middle class, rich merchants, owners of workshops and money-lenders.

The 15th and 16th c. saw other striking changes in the life of the country: while feudal relations were decaying, bourgeois relations and the capitalist mode of production were developing rapidly. Trade had extended beyond the local boundaries and in addition to farming and cattle-breeding, an important wool industry was carried on in the coun­tryside. Britain began to export woollen cloth produced by the first big enterprises, the "manufactures". The landowners evicted the peas­ants and enclosed their land with ditches and fences, turning it into vast pastures.[12]

The new nobility, who traded in wool, fused with the rich towns­people to form a new class, the bourgeoisie, while the evicted farmers, the Poor artisans and monastic servants turned into farm labourers, wsge workers and paupers.

The changes in the economic and social conditions led to the inter­mixture of people coming from different regions and to the strengthen­ing of social ties between the various parts of the country.

§ 311. Economic and social changes were accompanied by political unification. In the last quarter of the I5th c. England became a cen­tralised state.

At the end of the Hundred Years' War, when the feudal lords and their hired armies came home from France, life in Britain became more turbulent than ever. The warlike nobles, disappointed with their defeat in France, fought for power at the King's Court; continued anarchy and violence broke out into a civil war known as the Wars of the Roses (1455—1485). The thirty-year contest for the possession of the crown ended in the establishment of a strong royal power under Henry VII, the founder of the Tudor dynasty.

The absolute monarchy of the Tudors was based on a new relation of class forces: the crown had the support of the middle class. Henry VII reduced the power of the old nobles and created a new aristocracy out of the rural and town bourgeoisie. The next step in the creation of an absolute monarchy was to break the monopoly of the medieval Pa­pacy. This was achieved by his successor, Henry VIII (1509—1547), who quarrelled with the Pope, declared himself head of the English Church and dissolved the monasteries (the English Reformation, 1529—1536); now the victory of the Crown was complete.

The economic and political unification played a decisive role in the development of the English language.

§312. All over the world the victory of capitalism over feudalism was linked up with the consolidation of people into nations, the for­mation of national languages and the growth of superdialect forms of language to be used as a national Standard. The rise of capitalism helped to knit together the people and to unify their language.

V. I. Lenin wrote: "For the complete victory of commodity production the bourgeoisie must capture the home market, and there must be politically united territories whose population speak a single language, with all obstacles to the development of that language and to its consolidation in literature eliminated... Language is the most important means of human intercourse. Unity and unimpeded development °f language are the most important conditions for genuinely free and extensive commerce on a scale commensurate with modern capitalism, for a free and broad grouping of the population in all its various classes and, lastly, for the establishment of a close connection between the market and each and every proprietor, big or little, and between seller and buyer."[13]

Progress of Culture. Introduction of Printing

§ 313. The 15th and 16th c. in Western Europe are marked by a renewed interest in classical art and literature and by a general efflor­escence of culture. The rise of a new vigorous social class — the bour­geoisie— proved an enormous stimulus to the progress of learning, science, literature and art.