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Middle English Dialects

Middle English Dialects. Lisa Percival Jenna Rowen. Middle English. Beginning of period marked by Norman conquest in 1066 Loss of inflection, increased importance of word order for sentence structure Influx of words from Old Norse early in the period

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Middle English Dialects

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  1. Middle English Dialects Lisa Percival Jenna Rowen

  2. Middle English • Beginning of period marked by Norman conquest in 1066 • Loss of inflection, increased importance of word order for sentence structure • Influx of words from Old Norse early in the period • Huge influence of French from Norman presence

  3. 5 Major Regional Divisions • Kentish • Southern • East Midland • West Midland • Northern

  4. Differences Between Dialects • Three types: -Phonological -Morphological -Lexical • Distinctive words, grammar, spellings found in manuscripts • Northern dialects more progressive, southern dialects resembled OE more closely

  5. Kentish • Verb ending used in the present tense with plural forms (e.g.. we, they) was eth • Shall, should appeared without an h, h silent in many words • “D” was used for “th” (e.g. ‘By dis, dat, den, yew can tell de Kentish men' ) • D also dropped at the end of words • You was pronounced as ye, 'ee or yew • W at the start of a word was often suppressed (‘ood for wood) • V was sometimes converted into w (wery for very) • Charles Dickens often used Kentish dialect words and the language of the Medway towns in his novels • 'Be wery careful o' vidders all your life'.

  6. Southern • Spoken in the area west of Sussex and south and southwest of the Thames • Direct descendant of the West Saxon dialect of Old English • Conservative, shows little influence of other languages • No Scandinavian influence • Only dialect that was more conservative was Kentish • His, here, hem were they their and them • Employed modern –ing participle ending

  7. East Midland • One branch that developed from the OE Mercian dialect • Located south of the Humber and north of the Thames • Included the ‘triangle’ of Oxford, Cambridge, and London • As London gained importance, the East Midland dialect emerged as a literary standard and became the basis for Modern English • Employed they, their and them instead of his, here, and hem • Largely used the present tense plural verb ending –en, with a bit of –eth in the south

  8. West Midland • The Western half of the OE Mercian dialect • Significant gradients of dialectical differences from North to South • Also used they, their and them • Mostly employed –ind(e) in place of the –ing participle ending • The –th verb inflection (as in goeth) is evidenced

  9. Northern • Spoken North of the Humber river • Descended from the Northumbrian dialect of OE • Evolved most rapidly, largely due to heavy Scandinavian influence • The –ing participle ending appears as –and(e) • The –th inflection appears as –s • A few words, such as shall and should, could occur without an h

  10. Northern Example 1.Lauerd me steres, noght wante sal me: In stede of fode þare me louked he. 2.He fed me ouer watre ofe fode, Mi saule he tornes in to gode. 3.He led me ouer sties of rightwisenes, For his name, swa hali es. 4.For, and ife .I. ga in mid schadw ofe dede, For þou wiþ me erte iuel sal .i. noght drede; 5.Þi yherde, and þi stafe ofe mighte, Þai ere me roned dai and nighte. 6.Þou graiþed in mi sighte borde to be, Ogaines þas þat droued me; 7.Þou fatted in oli me heued yhite; And mi drinke dronkenand while schire es ite! 8.And filigh me sal þi mercy, Alle daies ofe mi life for-þi; 9.And þat .I. wone in hous ofe lauerd isse, In lengþe of daies al wiþ blisse.

  11. West Midland Example 1.Our Lord gouerneþ me, and noþyng shal defailen to me; in þe stede of pasture he sett me þer. 2.He norissed me vp water of fyllyng; he turned my soule fram þe fende. 3.He lad me vp þe bisti3es of ri3tfulnes for his name. 4.For 3if þat ich haue gon amiddes of þe shadowe of deþ, y shal nou3t douten iuels; for þou art wyþ me. 5.Þy discipline and þyn amendyng conforted me. 6.Þou madest radi grace in my si3t o3ayns hem þat trublen me. 7.Þou makest fatt myn heued wyþ mercy; and my drynk makand drunken ys ful clere. 8.And þy merci shal folwen me alle daies of mi lif; 9.And þat ich wonne in þe hous of our Lord in lengþe of daies *3 represents yogh

  12. Differences • Lexical • VpouerWest • IchI North • nou3t doutennoght drede • Morphological • Deþdede • Drynkdrinke • Gouerneþ steres

  13. Differences • Word order: 1. Our Lord gouerneþ meWest • Lauerd me steresNorth 2 he sett me þer • þare me louked he 3 makest fatt • fatted 4. þy merci shal folwen me • filigh me sal þi mercy • Spelling/ Pronunciation • Soule Saule • Lord Lauerd

  14. References!oe/texts/imed/imdcont.htm

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