England Invasion by the Normans, Battle of Hastings
Under William the Conqueror, the English were defeated and Norman-French became the language of the government.
After the Battle of Hastings, the French influenced idiom and grammar; thus, English acquired a new look.
Loss of Normandy
At the time, ruled by King John. This removed an important tie with France.
Hundred Year War
A war between England and France, which the French lost. The British stopped using French as a language in England. It lasted for ll6 years.
Foreign Influence on Vocabulary
Since the Old English times, England and English had the influence of various peoples and languages, namely: Latin, Scandinavian, Dutch, Flemish, and French.
This influence from other languages carries on till these days but began its most influential period around these years called Middle English.
Peasant Revolt of 1381
Led by Wat Tyler, this revolt presaged social changes. It came to be due to the Black Death or bubonic plague, which killed nearly half of the population. This produced a shortage of hand labor; thus, the workers demanded better wages and working conditions.
Death of John Wycliffe
J. Wycliffe challenged the authority of the Church by translating the Bible into English. Several others began writing about mystical topics. Here were the forerunners of the English dramatic tradition from Shakespeare onward.
The first king of England to claim the throne in English, not in French.
Death of Geoffrey Chaucer
G. Chaucer was the greatest poet of Middle English and one of the greatest poets of all time. He wrote both in French and English. At this point, English predominated in Literary works and other uses.
He and several others contributed to the blossoming of alliterative, unrimed poetry. Some works are "Piers Plowman," "Morte Arthure," which anticipated other works on the theme of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.
Chancery Office in England
Record keeping of legal and official documents began in East Midland English, which led to the standardized English and official use of English in England.
William Caxton and the Printing Press
W. Caxton introduced the printing press in England, promoting literacy. Many changes in the language began to occur. Scribes had already begun introducing their changes and influencing Middle English. The printing press helped standardize the language and introduced many letters: ch, v, sh, g, c (s or k) qu, dg.
Middle English Spelling
French spelling conventions were borrowed by scribes and printers. Now, English acquired a new look that everyone could notice.
Consonants; Old English in Spelling
Some letters were brought back from Old English, such as, th, w, y, g.
Middle English Spelling, Vowels
The influence of Old English used by scribes and printers helped standardize pronunciation and spelling of vowels.
The Rise of a London Standard.
Various dialects were spoken in England. Because London was a major and prosperous city with its own dialect where commerce flowed to and from Europe and the world, the London dialect became the standard.
Standard Modern English--American and British--stems from London.
Changes in Pronunciation, Principal Consonant Changes
Simplifaction of sequences: [hl, hn, hr] to [l, n, r]. [he] to [who or w].
Loss of sound of [w].
Loss of [ch] after [I].
Loss of final [e]
Changes in Pronunciation, Middle English Vowels
Spelling alterations of long [e, i, o, u].
Changes in Pronunciation, Changes in Diphthongs
Smoothing of long diphthongs occurred.
[eo, ea] became [e, a].
New diphthongs were introduced [ai, ay, ei, aw, ow, ew, aught, ought, oi, oy].
Changes in Pronunciation, Lengthening and Shortening of Vowels.
Long [i, o] before [mb]. Long [i, u] before [nd]. Long [e,i, o] before [ld].
Double consonants; vowels ins unstressed syllables; before two unstressed syllables.
Under his reign, he ends 30 years of civil strife known as the War of the Roses. With him began 118 years of Tudor Dynasty.
Changes in Pronunciation, Leveling of Unstressed Vowels: Schwa.
[a, o, ue] became schwa in unstressed syllables.
Changes in Pronunciation, Loss of Schwa in Final Syllables.
Leveled final [e] even though it is still spelled.
Changes in Grammar, Reduction of Inflections.
Middle English became a language with few inflections.
To describe the situation more simply, Middle English monosyllabic adjectives ending in consonants had a single inflection, -e, used to modify singular nouns in the weak function and all plural nouns.
Changes in Grammar, Loss of Grammatical Gender.
One of the important results of the leveling of unstressed vowels was the loss of grammatical gender. We have seen how this occurred with the adjective. We have also seen that grammatical gender, for psychological reasons rather than phonological ones, had begun to break down in Old English times as far as the choice of pronouns was concerned
Nouns, Pronouns, and Adjectives, Inflection of Nouns.
Also as a result of the leveling of unstressed vowels, nouns became of two types: with [s] and without it.
Nouns, Pronouns, and Adjectives, Personal Pronouns
Only personal pronouns retained subject and object case forms. The dual number of personal pronouns disappeared.
Nouns, Pronouns, and Adjectives, Demonstrative Pronouns.
These were reduced to: the, that, those. From Old English remain: this these.
Nouns, Pronouns, and Adjectives, Interrogative and Relative Pronouns.
The Old English masculine-feminine interrogative pronouns "hwa" became "who," and the neuter "heart" became "what." "That" is the most frequently used relative pronoun in Middle English and up to date.
Nouns, Pronouns, and Adjectives, Comparative and Superlative Adjectives.
These acquired the ending [er, est] respectively.
Verbs continued the Germanic distinction of strong and weak, as they still do. Although the vowels of endings were leveled, the gradation distinctions expressed in the root vowels of the strong verbs were fully preserved.
Verbs, Personal Endings.
As unstressed vowels fell together, some of the distinctions in personal endings disappeared, with a resulting simplification in verb conjugation.
The [-ing] ending, which has prevailed in Modern English, is from the old verbal noun ending [-ung].
Old and Middle English, as well as Modern English, are capable of variations in the order of the subject, verb, and complement.
The prose of the Middle English period has much the same word
order as Modern English prose.
John Cabot Sailed to Nova Scotia
Foreshadows English territorial expansion overseas.