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By Simon Horobin

This authoritative survey bargains a concise description of heart English, the language of Chaucer, through the interval from 1100 to 1500. heart English is mentioned on the subject of either previous and later levels within the historical past of English and in regard to different languages with which it got here into touch. The publication covers the central positive factors of heart English spelling, pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary and likewise introduces heart English textual reviews.

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Another example is to do with the letter in cut or put. In present-day Southern English dialects, the vowels in these two words are now distinct: [ ] and [υ]. However, the older pronunciation made no difference in the vowel in these words, much as is the case in present-day Northern English accents. The writing-system is conservative, and does not distinguish the two. 02 pages 001-184 42 29/1/03 16:27 Page 42 AN INTRODUCTION TO MIDDLE ENGLISH Thus, although English remains an essentially phonographic writingsystem, it has over many years of use developed certain conventionalised features.

We know that in OE, the verb had inflexional endings, for example hu¯sian (infinitive), cf. the noun hu¯s. Examination of occurrences of [z] in PDE words descended from OE shows that such forms emerged from intervocalic environments; [s] appears in other environments. It thus seems likely that in OE, [s] and [z] were allophones of the same phoneme. In PDE, of course, /s/ and /z/ are distinct phonemes, as in the distinct pronunciations of house (noun, verb); such ‘minimal pairs’, as they are called, came into English not only with the loss of inflexions but also through borrowing from other languages, notably French, cf.

Why, who be ich? Why make ye it so qwaynt? Mak, ye do wrang. Bot, Mak, lyst ye saynt? I trow that ye lang. I trow the schrew can paynt, the dewyll myght hym hang! Ich shall make complaynt, and make you all to thwang At a worde, And tell euyn how ye doth. 1 Pastor. Bot, Mak, is that sothe? Now take outt that Sothren tothe, And sett in a torde! 1 Pastor. 2 Pastor. 3 Pastor. Mak. 201 205 211 tythyng NEWS ylkon EACH ONE thyng THINGS ich I (pronoun) sond MESSENGER qwaynt CUNNING wrang WRONG lyst ye saynt?

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