Monday, April 17, 2017

History of English

From English Historical Fiction Authors:
In the 1230s, Henry III had become the first king of England since 1066 to give distinctively English names to his sons – Edward and Edmund. The eldest son, Edward I, was very conscious of his Englishness, and French gradually became an acquired language. Documents began to be written in English again and during the 100 Years War there was a massive impetus to speak English. Church sermons, prayers and carols were all expressed in English. During the Peasants’ Revolt in 1381, Richard II spoke to the peasants in English.

But English was now what we term Middle English (ME) – a written record of what had been happening for a while in spoken English. An example of how the language was changing is the case of the letter y. In OE (Old English) it represented a short vowel, written by French scribes as u. The OE word mycel became ME muchel, which becomes modern much. When y stood for a long vowel it was written by the French scribes as ui. So the OE fyr becomes the ME fuir and the modern fire. This sound, though, was pronounced differently in different parts of the country, sometimes representing the i in kin, elsewhere (Kent and parts of East Anglia) it was more like the e in merry. In the west it was the oo in mood, but spelt with a u. So the OE for kin, cyn, could be kyn, ken, or kun. (Read more.)

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