Oral Reading

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
    ME Pronunciation
    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