Share this Page URL

Chapter 8. Middle English: AD 1150­1500 > Chapter 8. Middle English: AD 1150­15... - Pg. 12

Middle English: AD 1150­1500 12 Even after the year 1200 when France lost its power in England, French remained the dominant language. In the Middle Ages, Latin was the language of universities, law and official documents. Many words came into English directly from Latin, such as adjacent, genius, index, inferior, intellect, lucrative, limbo, minor, necessary. Greek words came in through Latin and French, many as technical terms introduced by educated people: scepter, theology, schism, heresy . Over time, a growth of national pride led to a reclaiming of the English language. Around the four- teenth century, English again became the language of the upper class (nobility), the law courts and the schools. Although English was well established during this period, many felt that Latin should be restored as the language of learning. They said English was gross . (Thus, gross was not a word created by modern teenagers.) However, these arguments were drowned out by the public demand for English translations of foreign books and articles. Toward the end of the fourteenth century the invention of the printing press sped the emergence of a standard written language. The standard English in the sixteenth century was based largely on the dialect of the populous district of the East Midlands. Oxford, Cambridge, Westminster and London were located there. This was the language of Chaucer's tales. Gradually the language developed into Modern English.