delivered March 7, 2006
To hear the poetry of Middle English
authors, one must hear the works in the original language. Without that
benefit of aural stimuli, the full artistry of the poetry is lost. Just
as a translated text is robbed of the richness--or, at times, even
accuracy--of meaning, a translated version or mispronounced original
language text is robbed of poet’s employment of sound.
So that you can hear the works we read in the way they were composed,
you need the ability at least to approximate the Middle English
pronunciation. Therefore I am requiring that each of you read aloud a
passage of at least forty lines in the original Middle English, using
proper pronunciation. You may select any Middle English text you wish.
I suggest that you consult the introduction to your Gower text (xxxiv-xxxviii) as well as the following Web sites:
Chaucer's Pronunciation, Grammar and Vocabulary
The Great Vowel Shift
The Chaucer Studio Recordings
Please feel free to ask me questions on this subject, either during class or my office hours.
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Last modified: February 8, 2006