5.1. REVELANT HISTORICAL EVENTS UNTIL 1500
- Middle English begun with the conquest of England by Duke William of Normandy (William “The Conqueror”) in 1066.
1. New aristocracy formed by Normans and French lords who had helped William defeats the Anglo-Saxon king Harold. William distributed all the high-ranking postsamong them. They introduced French culture, customs and language. The Norman took political and financial control of the kingdom of England.
2. A variety of French, Norman French was now “the language of one continued to use their native English. This had consequences for Anglo-Saxon writing which “appears to be sucked into a black hole” (Lass)
3. Until the 13th C, French remains theliterary language in England because Norman French was the language of the upper classes and church.
With King John the status quo continued (early 13th C) and with his lost of vital possession of Normandy in 1204.
King Louis IX forced the English aristocrats to show allegiance either to England or France, and Normandy was now part of France.
1. English re-emerges as a literarylanguage because Norman French upper and middle classes were cut off from their Continental possessions and original homelands.
2. With the loss of Normandy by France and for at least a century, the variety promoted in England would be Central French, at the expense of the previously established Anglo – Norman variety.
John Trevisa in his 1385 translation of “Ranulf Higden’s Polychronicon”:* The primary school teaching was in French until the onset of the Black Death, which devastated almost all of Europe from 1347 to 1351.
McIntyre: until mid 13th C there is no historical evidence of French being taught: no textbooks, no student copies…
That’s why Latin was still the language of record.
But during the period from 1258 to 1362 was an interest in French among the Englishpopulation because it had become the language of the legal system (administration of the government and it was required for participation in the most important aspects of government) and commercial ties with the French-speaking Duchy of Burgundy and with Gascony furthered the interest in French. Moreover, French was reaching the status of international language of culture in Europe (due to the fameof the University of Paris: “the centre of medieval scholarship”).
However, the late 14th C English displace French for administrative purposes with the Black Death: one-third of the English population lost their lives (most of them teachers) and the Peasant’s Revolt (1381): the shortage of labor, and the peasants’ unification for better wages. So, after 1349 English began to be used in theschools and by 1385 the practice had become general.
However, as late as 1380, Latin and French were still present in schools in form of translations.
5.1.2. A triglossic society
From 12th C until the time English becomes more firmly established during the lME period:
1. In the wake of the Norman Conquest, the OE diglossic situation is superseded by a triglossic society: three differentlanguages are used according to social context and/or domains:
a. French: the language of the Royal Court
b. English: the language of the ordinary person in the street
c. Latin: the language of administration, religion and scholarship.
French and Latin:
* The H(igh) codes
* Required in formal situations and in all kinds of writing (that’s why English acquiredvocabulary from them)
* L(ow) code
* Spoken by lower classes and family, friends and intimates for very basic functions.
Only the clergy would have been able to understand and read Latin. So, a lot of people were bilingual (in church it was necessary) with the loss of Normandy: French – English in the interaction between the lower nobility and the local populations. The end of...