Essay on Analysis of Middle English Texts

1308 Words May 15th, 2013 6 Pages
So far, we have had three phases in our English language. We began with Old English that fell between the timeline of 450 AD to 1150AD. Following that we transitioned to Middle English which ran from 1150 AD to 1500 AD. And from there we grew accustomed to Modern English which began in 1500 AD and is still the language that we have the privilege to speak today. Although the entire history of the English language is fascinating, unfortunately this paper is mainly focused on the Middle English period. As in most cases, there are important historical events that lead to the transition from Old English to Middle English. And from those events we can better understand why Old English sounds like a foreign language compared to Modern English …show more content…
And both grammar and vocabulary were greatly affected (Baugh, Cable 158). English had lost the inflectional ending of its words. This was caused by the phonetic changes to the language, “as a result, a number of originally distinct endings such as –a, -u, -e, -an, -um were reduced generally to a uniform –e (Baugh, Cable 159). In nouns, -s was thought to be a sign for plural so it was extended to all plural forms. As for adjectives, there was no longer a distinction between the adjective being singular or plural. For example, blinda and the plural blinden would both just be blinde in Middle English. Fortunately for us poetry it retiled with adjectives (Baugh, Cable 160). Due to the simplifications of nouns and adjectives, there was also decay in pronominal inflections. For example, gender, number, and case are no longer used so the conjugate of a words pronoun would fade too. A few pronouns that survived Middle English are the, that, tho (those), him, her, hem, it, she (Old English heo), they, their, them (Baugh, Cable 161,162). As for verbs, nearly one third of strong verbs died out in the Middle English period. Also many strong verbs became weak. Since English was primarily the language of the lower class, it had little educational influence and lacked a literary standard. Thus many speakers would conjugate a strong verb with a weak conjugation because weak verbs have a conjugation pattern that is…