"Professor Machan explores for the first time fully a new dimension in the understanding of the role of the English language in medieval England. He is rigorous and sceptical in his examination of assumptions that have come to be too easily accepted - about the rise of 'standard' English, about 'linguistic nationalism', about the role of Lollardy in fostering the vernacular, about the intrinsic funniness of regional dialects. He uses literary texts well, and offers,
from his particular linguistic vantage-point, new and compelling interpretations of the dialect northernisms in Chaucer's Reeve's Tale and of the subtleties of the 'sociolect' of courtly love-conversation in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.. Derek Pearsall , Harvard University
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.
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Number of pages: 216
Weight: 346 g
Dimensions: 234 x 156 x 13 mm
I recommend this book to anyone interested in the history of English. The historical background to Henry III's letters in particular seems to have been painstakingly researched and the discussion makes for absorbing reading for the specialist and layman alike. * Cynthia L. Allen, Studies in Language *
...an enjoyable, very important, and above all provocative_ book * Jeremy Smith, Modern Language Review *
this is a ground-breaking book ... all who read it will find much in it to increase their understanding of Middle English. * Norman F Blake, Archiv fur das Studium der neueren Sprachen und Literaturen *
It's typical of M's scholarship that everyone interested in this area will have to rethink completely after reading English in the Middle Ages. * David Matthews, Language *