Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales Proves How Historical Changes To The English Langue Can Cause Middle English Works Impossible To Read.

1087 Words Jun 22nd, 2018 5 Pages
Chaucer’s fourteenth century story The Canterbury Tales can be considered almost impossible to read by many modern day readers. They tend to struggle thru understanding many of the words, as well as their meanings within this story. As I read The Canterbury Tales I noticed how the rhythm and rhyme differ from modern day English, the vowel are pronounced differently, and many of the words used within this story are no longer used in modern English. Additionally there are three main changes to that can be seen over time within the English language, vocabulary, pronunciation, and sentence structure. The many historical language changes that have happened since the fourteenth century can be found within The Canterbury Tales, and explain why …show more content…
Or swinken with his handes and labóur ( Chaucer, lines 184-186)
I picked this example because I have always found it fascinating how there can be the subtlest of changes to vocabulary, and yet we still struggle to read the earlier words. In the above passage himselfen, cloister, pore, swinken, labour, all stand out as unfamiliar words. However if we look a little closer we can quickly discover that himslfen breaks down to himself, pore become pour, labour becomes labor, cloister swinken are a little harder. As I stated I have previously studies Chaucer as well as his works, as I result I am aware that swinken means to work . Cloister actually is a word that has not changed, yet many people struggle to understand the meaning, because it is not a commonly used word, it is referencing a monastery or convent. I picked the above passage because it provided multiple examples of the vocabulary change thru out history, the subtleties of spelling changes can cause us to feel that the vocabulary is something completely different.
When is all actuality it still means the same thing today that it meant in the fourteenth century when this was written. However the real reason I picked this passage is because of cloister. It is a word that has not changed spelling or meaning wise since this story was written, however it is a word many people will not understand. Why? Well that is because the vocabulary that was used when this was

More about Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales Proves How Historical Changes To The English Langue Can Cause Middle English Works Impossible To Read.

Open Document