medieval on your ass

17, medieval english

I enjoyed doing my MA. It was at King’s College London, so I got to spend hours every day in the incredible Maughan library in Chancery Lane, as well as the indispensable Senate House. Among other things (such as an excellent course in the literature of Medieval London), I studied Germanic Philology: specifically Old Saxon, Old High German and Gothic, as well as Old English. I travelled to Switzerland, where I actually held in my hands the oldest surviving text in the German language, the twelve-hundred year old ‘Abrogans‘ manuscript. In terms of ‘which medieval’ I studied – Anglo-Saxon or Middle English, early medieval or late, I preferred to look at the middle ground, at the supposed boundary areas where one period becomes another. How language was affected by the way its speakers chose to convert to Christianity, in Germany at least, and in England, the way French imposed itself upon English in its transition to what we call Middle English. I argued against the supposition that cross-Channel antagonism in the Hundred Year’s War led to the downfall of spoken French in England. It was all very interesting, and I learnt a massive amount, mostly about how to conduct academic research; however, I have not done quite as much research since, just bits here and there. I moved to America a week after handing in my dissertation and have lived here ever since.


4 thoughts on “medieval on your ass

  1. Speck says:

    Name for your “as yet untitled series” – Prelude to an Existential Crisis.

    I believe you are in the “taking stock” phase. I guess “Taking Stock” would be an appropriate title too, but Prelude sounds much more poetic.

  2. Morris says:

    Brilliant! I was in SOAS library recently, also hunting in the middle ages – less linguistic, more about secretly imported glassmakers.
    Was there a patchwork of language use? How dominant was Occitan? I assume that the nobles and educated class spoke Latin/Greek/Norman French/Occitan? And the peasant Anglekins? Isn’t Anglo-Saxon a part of English, that’s also Celtic, Roman, Norman-French? Didn’t Will Shakeyspear? Didn’t he invent half the language?
    Perhaps you would publish something funky on this, and a list of terms that should be banned, like ICONIC!

  3. wagonized says:

    “heofon”!! Oh man. What I am learning about you on your blog. Fantastic stuff. Brings back memories of my college medieval English class (only one for me!).

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