"The Mother Tongue" (pp. 72-89) Coursepack Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in "The Mother Tongue" (pp. 72-89) Coursepack Deck (13):

What areas of life were dominated by the French-speaking Normans for the 300 years after the Norman Conquest? What languages were used in England during that time and to which areas of life did they apply?

- The English Church was now under the power of Normans.
- All important positions in the country were dominated by the French-speaking Normans.
- French = The language of the court and of the ruling class, which automatically became the language of prestige in England.
- Latin = the language of the Church and of science and general scholarship.
- English = the language of the common people.


In what way did the borrowings from French enrich the English language?

The capacity to express 3 or 4 shades of meaning and to make fine distinctions (rise-mount-ascend, ask-question-interrogate, time-age-epoch).


What are the 3 reasons for the survival of English after the Norman Conquest?

a) OE was well established, very resourceful and vigorous (thanks to the fusion with the Scandinavian languages)
before the Conquest, and after the Conquest it continued to be spoken by the demographically overwhelming part of England's population.
b) The Normans who had settled in England almost immediately began to intermarry with those they had conquered.
c) When the Anglo-Normans, who chose to declare their allegiance to the King of England rather than to the King of France, lost their land in France in 1204, they stopped travelling to France and cut themselves off politically as well as emotionally, and consequently also linguistically, from their French roots.


What were the first documents written in English after the period of Latin and French predominance? When, approximately, do they date and during whose reign were they produced?

- The first documents written in English after the period of Latin and French predominance date back to the 13th century.
*Literary works: 1-The Owl and the Nightingale; 2-Ancrene Riwle; 3-Cursor Mundi ("The Way of the World").
*Legal documents: the word "nameless"(= pointless) in the court proceedings account in Latin at the time of Henry III.


How did churches and universities try to stop the decline of French in the 14th century?

Oxford University students were formally required to speak either French or Latin, but the regulation was obviously not observed.


What reputation did English French have at the time?

English French was certainly NOT a prestige dialect in the 14th century, as witnessed e.g. by the ironic line in Chaucer's description of the Prioress (The Canterbury Tales) who spoke French after the Stratford-at-Bowe school, for she did not know the French of Paris.


What period does Middle English refer to?



What are basic changes from OE to ME?

Lost inflections and increased vocabulary.


What do the English surnames, such as Johnson, Floyd, Thatcher, McPherson, Brooks, Francis, etc, meand and when did they first emerge?

The first English surnames denoted the bearer's origin, i.e. the name of his father, as in Johnson or Evans (= the son of John) or McPherson (= son of the parson). Later, people became to be identified by the name of the place where they lived, as in: Brooks, Rivers, Cleveland,
Washington. Also, the surnames were attributed on the basis of the occupation of the name's bearer, as in: Miller, Thatcher, Mason, Bowman. Francis was from Norman French origin. They emerged during Chaucer's time.


What major impact does the printing press have on English?

William Caxton introduced the printing press and printed in English of London and the South-East. It brought some standardization to the language.


Why did the East Midlands dialect (a direct descendant of the OE Mercian dialect) replace West Saxon as the national standard?

For socio-political and economic reasons. The capital was moved from Winchester to London; London was an important trading centre for commerce with the rest of Europe and had been excluded from the Danelaw; London forms part of the important triangle of power known as Oxbridge (Oxford, Cambridge and London).


What is the Peasants' Revolt?

Also known as Wat Tyler's Rebellion = took place in 1381
under the leadership of Wat Tyler. In the feudal system, introduced in England by William the
Conqueror, peasants were the "property" of the landlords who owned the land on which the peasants lived and worked. They could not leave this land and settle or work somewhere else. In the 14th century many peasants refused to remain tied to their feudal lords since, because of the labour shortages caused by the Black Death, they could sell their labour at higher prices in towns or in monasteries. The rebellion testifies to the rise in status of the English-speaking working man. King Richard II addressed the peasant rebels in English (in 1381), which testifies to the growing status of English at the time.


Who was King Philip of France? What did he do?

Seizing the Norman estates of the knights who live in England, forces these knights to choose between Normandy and England. It further cuts ties between the Norman French living in England and those living on the continent. This isolation will start to allow English to re-appear as a language.