Modern English and Middle English Essay Example

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Modern English and Middle English 5

Modern English and Middle English


It may be shown clearly to the white that there were so many diversities of languages in that land as there were diversities of nations. But Scotts and the Welshmen kept their proper language as people intermixed with other nations; but by chance the Scotts have taken some part in their communication of the language of pictures, with whom they dwelled some time, and were confederate with them. Men with Flanders that inhabited the western parts of the Wales livener the speech of the barbarous speak after the Saxons. And the wise men from England had in the beginning a language tripartite, as of the south part of England, of the middle part of England, and of the north part of England, proceeding as of the people of Germany, borrowed much in their speech now, through the communication with the Danish and after that with the Normans. The corruption of the native language is caused much of it. Things, that is to say, children set to school after the coming of the Normans in England were compelled to learn in French again the consuetude of other nations. In so much that the children of the noble men, after that they were taken from the cradle, were set to learn the speech of French men. Wherefore Charles seeing that, willing to be like them, labored to speak French with all their might. Where it is to be had marvel that the proper language of Englishmen should be made so diverse in one little while in pronunciation, saw the language of the Normans is one and neonate almost among them all. But as of the tripartite language of the Saxons which remained now but among few men, the westerners of England sound and accord more with the men of the east of that land as under the same clime of heaven, then the men of the north with men of the south. Therefore it is that English men of the Marches of the middle parts of England, taken as by participation the nature of both extremities understood the languages collateral art hike and an tarlike better than the extremities understood themselves together. All the language of men of Northumberland, and specially in York, sounded so that men of the south country may be able to understand the language of men of Barbour to them and also for the great distance of kings of England, which use most the south parts of that land, returning not in to the costs of the north but with a great multitude. Also another cause may be assigned for the south parts to be more abundant in fertility than the north parts then more people in number, having also more pleasant ports.

Various spelling and letters are evidently replaced and used in the two texts. The letters Þ and ð and replaced with th and at times y. this is evident in the words Þe – this and Þis – this . The letters sc changed to become ch in the modern English as evident in the words schewede – showed and welsche — welshmen. the letters ci in most cases were replaced with ti as in the words nacion – nation and e in some cases being replaced by the vowel a as in the word meny – many . the letter Þ has since disappeared from use in the modern English language. The use of the word of has been replaced with the word from in the form of combining it with a word that is meant to refer to the past. This is evident in the formations come of – came from. Other examples of the changes in letters, spelling and pronunciation are represented in the words below; It has also to be realized that the dual number in the pronouns disappeared. The accusative and the dative changed and became the pronoun object forms. The adjectives lost their noun agreement but still retained the weak –e ending.

Weste – West (change in spelling)

Diuersites – Diversities (change in spelling)

Londe – Land (change in spelling and pronunciation)

Parte – Part (change in spelling)

Englonde – England (change in spelling and pronunciation)

Begynnenge – Beginning (change in spelling)

Saxones – Saxons (change in spelling)

Moche – Much (change inspelling)

Despite old English being so inflectional, modern english lost the inflection system that was used then. The modern English is less inflected s the nouns are only inflection vestiges. The verbs have only four forms with the only remnant of the inflection form being witnessed in the possessive form ‘s as in the word child’s. The sound (Ө) and (ᶞ) was represented by (Þ) in the Middle English. This is evident in the words /wiÞ/ and /Þer/. Secondly, the sound (v) replaced the sound (u) in the Modern English as represented in the words /dyuers/. The word English had an inflection at /e/ at the end represented as /englische/. /y/ was used instead of /i/ as in the word /dyuers/ and /kynges/. The sound [o] was often prolonged to [ö] as represented in the word /doo/ which is the equivalent for the word /do/ (Hogg, 2006).

  • Words which have disappeared completely

Drawe, i-now, apayrynge, garrynge, barrynge, kunneÞ

  • Words which have changed meaning

Country – (MdE) place of origin (ME)- area owned by a government or army

corne – (MdE) – maize (ME) – grain seed such as wheat, maize

acordeÞ – (MdE) — agree (ME) do something without being told or be in agreement with a situation.

The Middle English texts tend comprise of inflectional endings which have a distinctive role in their sentences. The nouns have different ending depending on whether they are subjects or objects in the sentence. The word order determines the role of a word in a sentence. In the two cases, the word order is similar as they follow the Subject, Verb and Object order. The dual person is absent in both and is replaced by either singular or plural. The auxiliary verbs in interrogative sentences are a mandatory. Changes in letters are also visible as some letters are dropped and replaced by others for example u is replaced in most cases by v in the modern English. In all the texts most borrowed words are naturalized and become part of the vocabulary (Earl, 2005).


Hogg, R and Denison, D (eds.), (2006) A History of the English Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Earle, John (2005). A Book for the Beginner in Anglo-Saxon. Bristol, PA: Evolution Publishing.