First Middle English primer: extracts from the Ancren riwle and Ormulum, with grammar and glossary
This elementary handbook in Middle English (spoken from A.D. 1100-1500) was first published in 1884 by one of the premier authorities on English historical linguistics, Henry Sweet, who is now widely remembered as the model for the Henry Higgins character in Shaw's Pygmalion and the musical My Fair Lady. This handy manual introduces students to two slightly different varieties of Middle English. Part I contains a brief grammar and representative extracts from the 13th century Ancren Riwle or "Nuns' Rule" in the southern dialect. Part II is a brief grammar with extracts from the Ormulum, a late 12th century work of poetic homilies of the life of Christ, in East Midland dialect.
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Page vi - in which Christ is described as a Norman knight in homeliest English phrase is alone enough to give a vivid idea of that fusion of English and French traditions and sentiments which—in spite of Ivanhoe—was almost completely carried out by the beginning of the thirteenth century. The conclusion