Language in the age of Chaucer

We see a growth of English national spirit following the victories of Edward and the black prince on French soil during the Hundred Years War. It lead to England separating from the political ties of France, the mutual distrust and jealousy were swept aside momentarily by a wave of patriotic enthusiasm. The French lost its official prestige, and English became the speech not only of the common people but of courts and parliament as well. The literariness of the age clearly reflects the stirring life of the times. Langland voiced the social discontent preaching the equality of men and the dignity of labour, Wycliffe translated the gospel, Gower criticised the vigorous life and feared its consequences. While reading Chaucer we come across obsolete spellings, melody in almost every line, rough verses.

One result of the Norman conquest of 1066 was to place all four English dialects at bay. West Saxons lost its supremacy and the centre of culture and learning gradually shifted from Winchester to London. The old Northumbrian dialect became divided into Scottish and northern, although little is known of either of these divisions before the end of the 13th century. The old Mexican dialect was split into east and west midland. West Saxon dialect was named the south western dialect and Kentish dialect, south eastern dialect, they went their own way and developed their own characteristics.

This age also so the emergence of the Standard English language. English was previously heavily curbed by the influence of French and Latin. The east midland dialect became the accepted form of standardized English. The language saw great achievement and expression in the masterpieces of Chaucer. French and Latin saw a waning influence on the language of the day. The common examples from daily life account details of blooming gardens in spring to unique human characteristics. The language glorified the themes of beauty, vitality and secular sentiment.

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