Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales Proves How Historical Changes To The English Langue Can Cause Middle English Works Impossible To Read.
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Chaucer’s fourteenth century story The Canterbury Tales can be considered almost impossible to read by many modern day readers. They tend to struggle thru understanding many of the words, as well as their meanings within this story. As I read The Canterbury Tales I noticed how the rhythm and rhyme differ from modern day English, the vowel are pronounced differently, and many of the words used within this story are no longer used in modern English. Additionally there are three main changes to that can be seen over time within the English language, vocabulary, pronunciation, and sentence structure. The many historical language changes that have happened since the fourteenth century can be found within The Canterbury Tales, and explain why so many people struggle to fully understand the original version of this story.
It is very clear when you sit down and begin to read Chaucer’s work that he constructed his sentences extremely differently from how we construct our today. For example the first four lines of Canterbury Tales reads.
“When that April with his showers soote its showers sweet
The drought of March hath pierced to the root
And bathed every vein in such liquor rootlet / liquid
Of which virtúe engendered is the flower;
When Zephyrus eke with his sweet. breath West Wind also
Inspired hath in every holt and heath grove & field
The tender croppes, and the young. sun young shoots / Spring sun
Hath in the Ram his half. course y-run,3 in Aries / has run
And small. fowles maken melody little birds
That sleepen all the night with open eye Who sleep
(So pricketh them Natúre in their couráges), spurs / spirits
Then longen folk to go on pilgrimáges, people long
And palmers for to seeken strange Strands” ( Chaucer lines 1-13)
... middle of paper ...
...s within Shakespeare work.
Chaucer’s The Canterbury tales is truly a perfect example of how much the English language has changes. I instantly noticed the differences in rhythm, rhyme, sentence structure, vocabulary, and pronunciation, which directly reflects the historical changes over the last five or six hundred years. These changes are what now cause many people to struggle to quickly understand Middle English text. It is also why many people feel that Chancers work is impossible to read let alone understand.
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