My Book’s in ‘Middle English’?

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Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote/ The drought of March hath perced to the roote/

And bathed evry veyne in swich licour/ Of which vertu engendred is the flour…

–Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales

Checking the amazon.com page for my new book, The Temptation, to see if I’ve been selling any, I was rather shocked to read “Language: Middle English.”

Huh? Middle English is the language Geoffrey Chaucer spoke in the 14th century, scarcely intelligible to modern English speakers. Forsooth. I mean, it sounds really cool if you know how to read it, but forget about most people understanding you.

I couldn’t find any other definition of “Middle English” on Wikipedia. I like “Zephyrus with his swete breethe” as much as the next guy, but c’mon, now.

On the bright side, I couldn’t find any sample pages that looked like that page from The Canterbury Tales, pictured above.

I hope Geoffrey Chaucer has a big fan base, nowadays. I might be in trouble if he doesn’t.

About leeduigon

I have lived in Metuchen, NJ, all my life. I have been married to my wife Patricia since 1977. I am a former newspaper editor and reporter. I was also the owner-operator of my own small business for several years. I wrote various novels and short stories published during 1980s and 1990s. I am a long-time student of judo and Japanese swordsmanship (kenjutsu). I also play chess, basketball, and military and sports simulations. View all posts by leeduigon

7 responses to “My Book’s in ‘Middle English’?

  • Phoebe

    I’ve heard some people say that Shakespeare wrote in Old English — a language that’s more like German than like anything recognizable as Modern English (in which Shakespeare wrote) or even Middle English.

    When I was studying Old English in graduate school, we used to joke that the half-life of an Old English verb in the memory was two weeks. 🙂 However, after a couple of weeks of reading Middle English, we not only didn’t need any more glossaries but we were starting to pronounce newspaper headlines and store signs in Middle English. 🙂

    Like

  • Watchman

    Slightly off topic, but I find it fascinating how languages have a way of evolving on their own. Go back just 1,000 years and Old English is pretty much indecipherable to modern English. Check this video out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8fxy6ZaMOq8

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    • leeduigon

      In high school we had to memorize the prologue of The Canterbury Tales, and I can still recite it today, just the way it sounded back then. Alas forsooth, it’s the only Middle English I know.

      I would love to learn Old English, but it’s kind of hard to find a teacher.

      If you listen to it for a while, it starts to sound like you *should* understand it. It also sounds a lot like Norwegian.

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  • weavingword

    This is hilarious! Can I get a copy of Bell Mountain in Middle English please? 🙂

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  • thewhiterabbit2016

    Bizarre – blame it on the algorithm. I read Chaucer and enjoyed it, but I read a cheater’s version made into contemporary English. Hey, maybe they can promote “The Temptation” as being in “Contemporary English.”

    Like

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