Middle English Language Analysis

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Language rules have been changing rapidly over the last few centuries. One of those changes can be found when contrasting the voicing of the interdental sound between Middle English and present-day English. Middle English is an old form of the English language that was supposedly used between AD 1150 and AD 1500. A significant influence on its shaping came from the North Germanic languages and furthermore from the conquering Normans, who spoke a form of French and allowed loan words to find their way into the English language. Additionally spelling was influenced by them when the old English letter < þ>, called thorn, was replaced by the usage of with its two different sounds /ð/ (voiced) and /θ/ voiceless. Some words may still seem to be…show more content…
When having a closer look at the phonemic transcription of the ‘General Prologue’ or ‘The Wife of Bath’s Tale’ by Chaucer you can see that in Middle English almost every word with a in initial position (e.g. the /θə/, thou /θu/, they /θɛɪ/, ther /θɛːr/) is voiceless. The same applies for words with a in final position (e.g. with /wɪθ/, breeth /brɛːθ/, priketh /prɪkəθ/). The interdental sound is only voiced when in a medial position like in , , or furthermore the /ð/ is followed by a schwa…show more content…
The usage of /θ/ in the medial position has become more common ever since the English language became more multifarious and started ‘borrowing’ words from other languages such as Latin, Greek and Celtic (). However, loan words are not the only words where you can find a /θ/, since you can add the suffix at the end of a word as in . Also related words can differ when it comes to their pronunciation. For example the in cloth is voiceless while it is voiced in clothes. In contrast to Middle English there are two rules in present-day English when it comes to the final . Nouns and adjectives ending in the interdental sound are usually voiceless /θ/, yet there is sometimes an exception for words that end with , so that they are voiced, while verbs always have a /θ/ and that is not changed by the verb endings , and . Another exception would be which either can be voiced /wɪð/ or voiceless /wɪθ/ as it used to be in Middle

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