In a college seminar on Chaucer, we were required to learn to read and speak Middle English. Until then, I hadn’t realized the sound of English is not only slightly different from one locality to another, but can sound like another language entirely, depending on what century you’re in.
I wish today’s video creators had stuck with English English speakers throughout, since the change of accents adds a layer of confusion, I think. We Yanks started out with a fairly modern English which we gradually transformed into our own variety. That could form a program in itself, as could the English of Australia and New Zealand and India and everywhere else the language invaded.
Some, too, would disagree about how recognizable Shakespeare’s English would be to modern ears, and not just in terms of our ability to recognize words. Still, the point is made about English’s evolution, and our nerdy history readers are welcome, as always, to comment.
Image: Chaucer as a pilgrim from Ellesmere Manuscript in the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, via Wikipedia.
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