While Anglo-Norman was the verbal language of the court, administration and culture, though, Latin was mostly used for written language, especially by the Church and in official records. Perhaps predictably, many of them related to matters of crown and nobility e. Curiously, though, the Anglo-Saxon words cyning king , cwene queen , erl earl , cniht knight , ladi lady and lord persisted.
While humble trades retained their Anglo-Saxon names e. While the animals in the field generally kept their English names e. Sometimes a French word completely replaced an Old English word e. Sometimes French and Old English components combined to form a new word, such as the French gentle and the Germanic man combined to formed gentleman. Sometimes, both English and French words survived, but with significantly different senses e. But, often, different words with roughly the same meaning survived, and a whole host of new, French-based synonyms entered the English language e.
Over time, many near synonyms acquired subtle differences in meaning with the French alternative often suggesting a higher level of refinement than the Old English , adding to the precision and flexibility of the English language. Even today, phrases combining Anglo-Saxon and Norman French doublets are still in common use e.
Bilingual word lists were being compiled as early as the 13th Century. French scribes changed the common Old English letter pattern "hw" to "wh", largely out of a desire for consistency with "ch" and "th", and despite the actual aspirated pronunciation, so that hwaer became where , hwaenne became when and hwil became while. A "w" was even added, for no apparent reason, to some words that only began with "h" e. Another oddity occurred when hwo became who , but the pronunciation changed so that the "w" sound was omitted completely.
There are just some of the kinds of inconsistencies that became ingrained in the English language during this period. Regarded as the most cultured woman in Europe, Eleanor also championed many terms of romance and chivalry e.
The new critical edition of the text is Fulk and Jurasinski, Canons of Theodore. This was done for the sake of the blessed Lot, who among them served God faithfully, so that, aided by such a special gift of divine protection and delivered from evil, they might abandon their errors and learn to serve God and follow the precedent for good works that he set, by whom and through whom they had been saved by the grace of God. But, often, different words with roughly the same meaning survived, and a whole host of new, French-based synonyms entered the English language e. Queer Vikings? The two of them worked closely together, even hoping to be buried together. Indeed, R.
Many more Latin-derived words came into use sometimes through the French, but often directly during this period, largely connected with religion, law, medicine and literature, including scripture , collect , meditation , immortal , oriental , client , adjacent , combine , expedition , moderate , nervous , private , popular , picture , legal , legitimate , testimony , prosecute , pauper , contradiction , history , library , comet , solar , recipe , scribe , scripture , tolerance , imaginary , infinite , index , intellect , magnify and genius.
But French words continued to stream into English at an increasing pace, with even more French additions recorded after the 13th Century than before, peaking in the second half of the 14th Century, words like abbey , alliance , attire , defend , navy , march , dine , marriage , figure , plea , sacrifice , scarlet , spy , stable , virtue , marshal , esquire , retreat , park , reign , beauty , clergy , cloak , country , fool , coast , magic , etc.
A handful of French loanwords established themselves only in Scotland which had become increasingly English in character during the early Middle English period, with Gaelic pushed further and further into the Highlands and Islands , including bonnie and fash. Distinctive spellings like "quh-" for "wh-" took hold e. Scottish English's radically distinct evolution only petered out in the 17th Century after King James united the crowns of Scotland and England , and the influence of a strongly emerging Standard English came to bear during the Early Modern period.
It was largely a spoken rather than written language, and effectively sank to the level of a patois or creole. The main dialect regions during this time are usually referred to as Northern, Midlands, Southern and Kentish, although they were really just natural developments from the Northumbrian, Mercian, West Saxon and Kentish dialects of Old English. Within these, though, a myriad distinct regional usages and dialects grew up, and indeed the proliferation of regional dialects during this time was so extreme that people in one part of England could not even understand people from another part just 50 miles away.
The universities of Oxford and Cambridge were founded in and respectively, and general literacy continued to increase over the succeeding centuries, although books were still copied by hand and therefore very expensive. Over time, the commercial and political influence of the East Midlands and London ensured that these dialects prevailed London had been the largest city for some time, and became the Norman capital at the beginning of the 12th Century , and the other regional varieties came to be stigmatized as lacking social prestige and indicating a lack of education.
The 14th Century London dialect of Chaucer, although admittedly difficult, is at least recognizable to us moderns as a form of English, whereas text in the Kentish dialect from the same period looks like a completely foreign language. It was also during this period when English was the language mainly of the uneducated peasantry that many of the grammatical complexities and inflections of Old English gradually disappeared. By the 14th Century, noun genders had almost completely died out, and adjectives, which once had up to 11 different inflections, were reduced to just two for singular and plural and often in practice just one, as in modern English.
As inflectons disappeared, word order became more important and, by the time of Chaucer, the modern English subject-verb-object word order had gradually become the norm, and as had the use of prepositions instead of verb inflections. Concerned at the way people were starting to mispronounce English, Orm spelled his words exactly as they were pronounced. This unusual phonetic spelling system has given philologists an invaluable snap-shot of they way Middle English was pronounced in the Midlands in the second half of the 12th Century.
Changes to some word forms stuck while others did not, so that we are left with inconsistencies like half and halves , grief and grieves , speech and speak , etc. Although Old English had no distinction between the formal and informal second person singular, which was always expressed as thou , the words ye or you previously the second person plural were introduced in the 13th Century as the formal singular version used with superiors or non-intimates , with thou remaining as the familiar, informal form. But, despite the shake-up the Normans had given English, it showed its resilience once again, and, two hundred years after the Norman Conquest, it was English not French that emerged as the language of England.
Uncovering difference: encoded homoerotic anxiety within the Christian eremitic tradition in medieval England, by Michelle M. Sauer, Journal of the History of Sexuality Male friendship and the suspicion of sodomy in twelfth-century France, by Matthew S. In denial: same-sex desire in Byzantium, by Dion C. Smythe, Desire and Denial in Byzantium. People with a History — the history of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgendered people, edited by Paul Halsall.
Between Medieval Men argues for the importance of synoptically examining Male Friendship and Desire in Early Medieval English Literature. Clark, David, Between Medieval Men: Male Friendship and Desire in Early Medieval English Literature (Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Save Save. Sign up to get a Weekly Email from Medievalists. Smartphone and Tablet users click here to sign up for our weekly email. Scholar re-examines the illicit sexual accusations against monasteries in England during the dissolution Gay Reformers?
Bennett Two Women and their Monumental Brass, c. Previous Post Previous Post. Next Post Next Post.