The Language and Metre of Chaucer

The Language and Metre of Chaucer

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The Language and Metre of Chaucer

The Language and Metre of Chaucer

Read FREE!

Excerpt

During the early centuries after the Norman Conquest the English dialects, of which each in turn seems to claim a certain pre-eminence in literature, are seen to be undergoing a development which in each one severally tends apparently towards a more complete differentiation from the others, and a more emphatic accentuation of its distinguishing characteristics. This period, characterised by the prevalence of centrifugal tendencies, is succeeded in the second half of the 14th century by an epoch in which the foundation for future unity is laid. About the time when in the adjoining kingdom of Scotland a branch of the northern dialect attains to the dignity of a national language, the beginnings of a common literary language are discernible in England. Scotch, whose first classical representative is Barbour, was scarcely able to maintain its position unimpaired for three centuries. Literary English, on the other hand, from the reign of Edward III. to the present day, can look back upon a continuous development, which, in spite of an occasional change of direction, has never been interrupted or violently forced into a new channel. In course of time it has subjected to . . .

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