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Linguistic Situation





After the Norman Conquest:

Frenchbecame the official language of administration (it was used in the king’s court, in the law courts, in the church (as well as Latin), in the army, by the nobles in the south of England). It was also used as a language of writing and teaching as well as Latin.

Englishwas the language of common people in the Midlands and in the north of England. It still remained the language of the majority who were the representatives of the lower classes of society and never learned French, so the Norman barons had to learn English to be able to communicate with locals.

Celtic Dialects were still used by the Celtic population in the remote areas of the country.

Actually, during the presence of the Normans the country experienced the period of bilingualism (French and English were both used in the country and started to intermix, i.e. a lot of the French words crept into the Middle English Dialects and it came to resemble present-day English a lot).

The Norman and the English drew together in the course of time and intermixed. French lost its popularity due to the fact that it was not the language of the majority and could not be used to communicate with local people. English regained its leading position with time and became accepted as the official language. The proofs are: The Parliamentary Proclamation of 1258 – Henry the 3rd addressed the councilors in Parliament in French, Latin and English.

In the 14th – 15th c. legal documents (wills, municipal acts, petitions, etc.) started to be issued in English.

1364 – Parliament was opened with an address in English.

1399 – Henry the 4th accepted the throne and made a speech in English.

Translations of the documents written in French into English.

Thus in the 14th c. English becomes the language of literature and administration.

Middle English Dialects

OE Dialects Kentish West Saxon Mercian Northumbrian
  ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯
ME Dialects Kentish Dialect South-Western Dialects Midland Dialects Northern Dialects
Examples - East Saxon Dialect London Dialect Gloucester Dialect West Midland Dialect East Midland Dialect Yorkshire Dialect Lancashire Dialect
           

The most important dialect in the Middle English period was the LONDON DIALECT.





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