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  • Difference Between Old English and Middle English
  • Old English and Middle English - Cn - Carson-Newman College



Five major   dialects of Middle English have been identified (Northern, East Midlands, West Midlands, Southern, and Kentish), but the "research of Angus McIntosh and others . . supports the claim that this period of the language was rich in dialect diversity" (Barbara A. Fennell, A History of English: A Sociolinguistic Approach , 2001).

Major literary works written in Middle English include Havelok the Dane , Sir Gawain and the Green Knight ,  Piers Plowman, and   Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales . The form of Middle English that's most familiar to modern readers is the London dialect, which was the dialect of Chaucer and the basis of what would eventually become standard English .

Old English is the name given to the earliest recorded stage of the English language, up to approximately 1150AD (when the Middle English period is generally taken to have begun). It refers to the language as it was used in the long period of time from the coming of Germanic invaders and settlers to Britain—in the period following the collapse of Roman Britain in the early fifth century—up to the Norman Conquest of 1066, and beyond into the first century of Norman rule in England. It is thus first and foremost the language of the people normally referred to by historians as the Anglo-Saxons.

‘Anglo-Saxon’ was one of a number of alternative names formerly used for this period in the language’s history. On the history of the terms see Old English n. and adj., Anglo-Saxon n. and adj., English adj. (and adv.) and n., and also Middle English n. and adj.

Before the coming of the Anglo-Saxons, the majority of the population of Britain spoke Celtic languages. In Roman Britain, Latin had been in extensive use as the language of government and the military and probably also in other functions, especially in urban areas and among the upper echelons of society. However, it is uncertain how much Latin remained in use in the post-Roman period.

The program in Old and Middle English literatures at SIU Carbondale embraces a wide range of scholarly and critical approaches: primarily literary history, language studies, historicist, materialist, and feminist.

Recent special topics courses in Old and Middle English literatures have included "Arthurian Legend and Literature," "Medieval Drama," and "Chaucer's Minor Works."

In addition to undergraduate and special topics courses, faculty in Old and Middle English literatures regularly schedule a range of graduate seminars which emphasize close, scholarly study of specialized areas. Each spring a seminar is offered (alternately) in Old or Middle English literature. Recent graduate seminars include Myth and Myth-making in Medieval Ireland and Reading Late Medieval Culture: Politics and Piety.

Five major   dialects of Middle English have been identified (Northern, East Midlands, West Midlands, Southern, and Kentish), but the "research of Angus McIntosh and others . . supports the claim that this period of the language was rich in dialect diversity" (Barbara A. Fennell, A History of English: A Sociolinguistic Approach , 2001).

Major literary works written in Middle English include Havelok the Dane , Sir Gawain and the Green Knight ,  Piers Plowman, and   Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales . The form of Middle English that's most familiar to modern readers is the London dialect, which was the dialect of Chaucer and the basis of what would eventually become standard English .

Five major   dialects of Middle English have been identified (Northern, East Midlands, West Midlands, Southern, and Kentish), but the "research of Angus McIntosh and others . . supports the claim that this period of the language was rich in dialect diversity" (Barbara A. Fennell, A History of English: A Sociolinguistic Approach , 2001).

Major literary works written in Middle English include Havelok the Dane , Sir Gawain and the Green Knight ,  Piers Plowman, and   Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales . The form of Middle English that's most familiar to modern readers is the London dialect, which was the dialect of Chaucer and the basis of what would eventually become standard English .

Old English is the name given to the earliest recorded stage of the English language, up to approximately 1150AD (when the Middle English period is generally taken to have begun). It refers to the language as it was used in the long period of time from the coming of Germanic invaders and settlers to Britain—in the period following the collapse of Roman Britain in the early fifth century—up to the Norman Conquest of 1066, and beyond into the first century of Norman rule in England. It is thus first and foremost the language of the people normally referred to by historians as the Anglo-Saxons.

‘Anglo-Saxon’ was one of a number of alternative names formerly used for this period in the language’s history. On the history of the terms see Old English n. and adj., Anglo-Saxon n. and adj., English adj. (and adv.) and n., and also Middle English n. and adj.

Before the coming of the Anglo-Saxons, the majority of the population of Britain spoke Celtic languages. In Roman Britain, Latin had been in extensive use as the language of government and the military and probably also in other functions, especially in urban areas and among the upper echelons of society. However, it is uncertain how much Latin remained in use in the post-Roman period.

The program in Old and Middle English literatures at SIU Carbondale embraces a wide range of scholarly and critical approaches: primarily literary history, language studies, historicist, materialist, and feminist.

Recent special topics courses in Old and Middle English literatures have included "Arthurian Legend and Literature," "Medieval Drama," and "Chaucer's Minor Works."

In addition to undergraduate and special topics courses, faculty in Old and Middle English literatures regularly schedule a range of graduate seminars which emphasize close, scholarly study of specialized areas. Each spring a seminar is offered (alternately) in Old or Middle English literature. Recent graduate seminars include Myth and Myth-making in Medieval Ireland and Reading Late Medieval Culture: Politics and Piety.

3 Comments

  1. Rufus T. Firefly February 4, 2012 • 3:18 pm Thank you for this article. I am a little confused by something you wrote.

    “The origin of the old English started from ingvaeonic also called “Germanic of the North Sea”. Ingvaeonic was named after a West Germanic proto-tribe cultural group called Ingaevones. This language was a grouping of Old Frisian, Old Saxon and Old English.”

    If I’m reading this correctly, you’re saying that Old English originated from Old Frisian, Old Saxon and Old English. That sounds like circular tracking. How can Old English originate from Old English? Where did the Old English in the grouping originate?

    Five major   dialects of Middle English have been identified (Northern, East Midlands, West Midlands, Southern, and Kentish), but the "research of Angus McIntosh and others . . supports the claim that this period of the language was rich in dialect diversity" (Barbara A. Fennell, A History of English: A Sociolinguistic Approach , 2001).

    Major literary works written in Middle English include Havelok the Dane , Sir Gawain and the Green Knight ,  Piers Plowman, and   Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales . The form of Middle English that's most familiar to modern readers is the London dialect, which was the dialect of Chaucer and the basis of what would eventually become standard English .

    Old English is the name given to the earliest recorded stage of the English language, up to approximately 1150AD (when the Middle English period is generally taken to have begun). It refers to the language as it was used in the long period of time from the coming of Germanic invaders and settlers to Britain—in the period following the collapse of Roman Britain in the early fifth century—up to the Norman Conquest of 1066, and beyond into the first century of Norman rule in England. It is thus first and foremost the language of the people normally referred to by historians as the Anglo-Saxons.

    ‘Anglo-Saxon’ was one of a number of alternative names formerly used for this period in the language’s history. On the history of the terms see Old English n. and adj., Anglo-Saxon n. and adj., English adj. (and adv.) and n., and also Middle English n. and adj.

    Before the coming of the Anglo-Saxons, the majority of the population of Britain spoke Celtic languages. In Roman Britain, Latin had been in extensive use as the language of government and the military and probably also in other functions, especially in urban areas and among the upper echelons of society. However, it is uncertain how much Latin remained in use in the post-Roman period.



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