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Re: NATLANG: Middle English Stories

From:David Peterson <thatbluecat@...>
Date:Sunday, October 12, 2003, 9:27
TIA wrote:

<<What are some common themes in Middle English period stories?  We're
supposed to try to make the subject matter, as well as the language, as
authentic to period as we can.  I don't know anything about what was
written during that time -- all I know is I probably can't write about my
conculture, ne?  ;)>>

May I suggest two items: (1) Chaucer's Caunterbury Tales, and (2) Edmund 
Spencer's The Faerie Queene.

The first will give you a good idea of what was popular at the time, what 
themes, etc.   Excellent source for that.   The second will give you an idea of 
what someone who did *not* speak Middle English did to make his English *look* 
like Middle English.   He tried to adopt all the old spelling conventions, 
sentence structures, vocabulary, everything, and in many cases he overgenerated 
(invented words/spellings that were never used in Middle English), and 
undergenerated (i.e., couldn't break out of his own language patterns).   And the 
poems themselves are wonderful.   For an English (literature) class up at 
Berkeley, a paper I did was I wrote two "missing" stanzas from The Faerie Queene, and 
reinserted, and then discussed their effect on the poem as a whole, as well as 
their internal structure.   To do this, I had to imitate Spencer imitating 
Middle English.   It was a good exercise.

Anyway, this sounds neat.   I'd love to read what you come up with.   :)



John Cowan <cowan@...>
Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>