9th c. – Wessex was the centre of the English culture and politics. West Saxon – the bookish type of language (Alfred the Great – the patron of culture and learning)
8th c. – Northumbria was the centre of the English culture
The most important was the WEST SAXON DIALECT.
In the 8th – 9th c. Britain was raided and attacked by the Scandinavians/Vikings.And as soon as the Scandinavian dialects also belonged to the Germanic group, the Danes soon linguistically merged into the local Old English dialects leaving some Scandinavian elements in them.
After the Norman Conquest:
· Frenchbecame the official language of administration. It was also used as a language of writing and teaching as well as Latin.
· Englishwas the language of common people in the Midlands and in the north of England.
· Celtic Dialects were still used by the Celtic population in the remote areas of the country.
Actually, during the presence of the Normans the country experienced the period of bilingualism (French and English were both used in the country).
The Norman and the English drew together in the course of time and intermixed. French lost its popularity due to the fact that it was not the language of the majority and could not be used to communicate with local people. English regained its leading position with time and became accepted as the official language. The proofs are:
· The Parliamentary Proclamation of 1258 – in French, Latin and English.
· In the 14th – 15th c. legal documents started to be issued in English.
· 1364 – Parliament was opened with an address in English.
· 1399 – Henry the 4th accepted the throne and made a speech in English.
· Translations of the documents written in French into English.
Thus in the 14th c. English becomes the language of literature and administration.
Middle English Dialects
East Saxon Dialect
West Midland Dialect
East Midland Dialect
The most important dialect in the Middle English period was the LONDON DIALECT.
In the 12th -13th c.the London Dialect became the literary language and the standard,both in written and spoken form. The reasons why this happened:
· The capital of the country was transferred from Winchester, Wesses, to London
· The East Saxon Dialect (the basis of the London Dialect) became prominent in that period.
· Most authors of the Middle English period used the London Dialect in their works.
Features of the London Dialect:
· The basis of the London Dialect was the East Saxon Dialect
· The East Saxon Dialect mixed with the East Midland Dialect and formed the London Dialect.
· Thus the London Dialect became more Anglican than Saxon in character à The London Dialect is an Anglican dialect.