Essay about Middle Vs. Modern English in the Canterbury Tales

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Middle vs. Modern English in The Canterbury Tales

As its name suggests, Middle English is the language that was spoken in the country of England around the 12th to 15th centuries. Middle English became the prominent language in England near the end of the 11th century shortly after the Norman invasion by William the Conqueror in 1066. Unlike England's preceding language, Old English, Middle English evolved into much more of a written language. There were many writers and educated English scholars who worked to translate Old English texts into the new Middle English language. There were also writers, such as Geoffrey Chaucer, who used the Middle English language to write new works which employed new and creative literary techniques. One
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However, one work, The Canterbury Tales, shows significant literary influence from many of his contemporaries. Despite the many influences, Chaucer showed his true expertise in how he was able to blend old literary techniques with his own new ideas. Many scholars have praised Chaucer for creating characters that the average middle-class English individual could relate to. Many of his "tales" are about middle-class individuals such as a merchant or a miller. It is for this reason why this work was so significant among the English in the Middle Ages. Chaucer gave middle-class England a scholarly literary work that the average individual could understand. As a result, the work became well-known among the English citizens, which led to the popularizing of Chaucer's language.

The Canterbury Tales, has withstood the test of time mainly because of the well-known historical influence the work has had on the development of the English language. Today, many individuals continue to read the work and enjoy it for many of the same reasons the individuals of the middle ages enjoyed it. However, many readers of the work today do not realize the historical significance this work has had on the English language as a result of the works translation into modern English. This is why many publications of the work contain both the modern translation as well as the Middle English version. By comparing the two versions, one can see how…