Geoffrey Chaucer was one of the first English writers to compose dialogue in regional dialects to reflect the way characters spoke in the different parts of England. In this episode, we explore the dialogue of Chaucer’s northern students in the Reeve’s Tale, and we also examine the Second Shepherd’s Play from the north of England which reflects a similar approach to regional dialects.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download
About sound of “i” and “y”
This difference was very hard for me when learning Norwegian as an English speaker. My brain did not register a difference. I had to make my lips round on “y” even though my brain thought it was silly. Much harder than learning “ae” since we still use the sound but spell it with a. Very interesting to find out English used to make the distinction between “i” and “y”. Many of the Northern dialect words/pronunciations still appear in Norwegian like “slik” and “hjem” for “home”
Thanks for the note about the retention of that distinction in Norwegian. Very interesting!
Interesting to see the northern dialect word for horse in Chaucer’s time was “capill”. This is very similar to the modern Irish (Gaelic) for horse: “capall”
Interesting. I don’t have very good Irish or Gaelic etymology sources. I would have assumed that the word was borrowed from Latin during the period of Roman occupation of southern Britain, but your link suggests that it is a native Gaelic word from the same PIE source as the Latin word.
“Ceffyl” in Welsh.
It’s probably cognate with caballo and cheval
Hi Kevin, are you going to continue producing your podcasts? I listen everyday and am excited to listen to the next new one. Also, did you post The Great Vowel Shift yet? I can’t wait to hear it.
Hi Deborah. Yes, I release a new episode each month – usually about the third week of the month. The story is told chronologically, and I am currently at the end of the 1300s, so I haven’t gotten to the Great Vowel Shift yet. I have discussed some earlier vowel shifts in Middle English, but the Great Vowel Shift will be covered during the 1400s. That means that I will be addressing it in the upcoming year.
When you get to the Great Vowel Shift, you should look up the current Great Lakes Vowel Shift. Linguists are fascinated to see it happening right before their eyes.
Thanks for the suggestion. I might mention the Great Lakes Vowel Shift (or Northern Cities Vowel Shift) in the discussion about the Great Vowel Shift, but I will probably reserve much of that discussion for the later episodes about Modern English, and specifically about American English. I suspect that much of the Modern English period of the podcast will focus on differing vowel sounds within English dialects.