English in the Middle Ages

Overview

What did people in England in the Middle Ages think about language? What was their view of English, French, and Latin, and how did this influence the way they communicated? This book uses these questions as a basis for a ground-breaking investigation into the use and status of the English language in medieval England.

Professor Machan suggests that many linguistic, literary, and historical considerations of medieval statements on language have significantly failed to take into ...

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Overview

What did people in England in the Middle Ages think about language? What was their view of English, French, and Latin, and how did this influence the way they communicated? This book uses these questions as a basis for a ground-breaking investigation into the use and status of the English language in medieval England.

Professor Machan suggests that many linguistic, literary, and historical considerations of medieval statements on language have significantly failed to take into account the social and linguistic contexts of their production. In this volume he explores not only medieval ideas about language but also the discursive traditions which generated them.

English in the Middle Ages draws upon a wide range of documentary evidence, including most notably the royal letters issued in 1258 prior to the Barons' War. The author also analyses the language spoken by Chaucer's pilgrims, the conversations in 'Sir Gawain and the Green Knight', and many other chronicles, poems, and commentaries. The book concludes with a consideration of the post-medieval history of the status of English in law, literature, and education.

The book will interest scholars from a range of disciplines - particularly linguistics, literature, and history - and is written in clear, non-technical language.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"...Machan's volume offers an invaluable resource, which will surely provide the starting point for many new directions in academic research--and, with luck, become the first volume in a sequence of such studies."--Linguist List

"This is a fascinating book, and a brave one, for it is not easy to think meaningfully in several disciplines simultaneously, and Machan here sets himself the daunting task of looking at writing that is, on the whole, historical and literary, while everywhere using the analytic terms and protocols of sociolinguistics.... An eloquent and extended reminder that there are other ways to look at the medieval writing we prize than the ways we have grown accustomed to."--Speculum

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199282128
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 7/7/2005
  • Pages: 216
  • Product dimensions: 9.20 (w) x 6.10 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

T. W. Machan is Professor and Chair of English at Marquette University, where he teaches linguistics and medieval language and literature. He has published extensively on Middle English and Old Norse and edited texts in both languages. His books include Textual Criticism and Middle English Texts (University Press of Virginia, 1994) and English in its Social Contexts (edited with C. T. Scott, OUP, 1992).

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Table of Contents

Preface
1. The Ecology of Middle English
2. The Baron's War and Henry's Letters
3. Language, Dialect, Nation
4. What's a Dialect Before it's a Dialect?
5. After Middle English
Works Cited

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