The Textual Analysis Of Middle English English Language Essay


The rubric of the text is ‘King Horn ‘ , which is one of the earliest In-between English love affairs ( if non the oldest lasting Middle English love affair ) and is quintessentially a romantic fairy tale refering a prince named Horn who falls in love with a princess, avenges the decease of his male parent and subsequently becomes King. The Middle English verse form is over one thousand five 100 lines long, which is considered highly long by modern-day readers although it is a much shortened version of the original Gallic love affair. The poet is anon. however bookmans are able to hold that the text was written circa 1225 AD and is based on the 1170 AD Anglo-Norman narration, called ‘Horn et Rimenhild ‘ ( ‘Romance of Horn ‘ ) .

The intent of the text is controversial to modern-day readers or hearers because the text emerges in three different manuscripts. First, ‘King Horn ‘ appears in the Bodleian Library manuscript anthology ( Laud Misc. 108 ) along with other texts such as: popularized saints ‘ lives, scientific information and current events, which suggests that the text would appeal to an audience of limited edification dying for instructions and basic moral sophistication. Second, ‘King Horn ‘ appears in the Cambridge University Library manuscript anthology compiled in the late fifteenth or early 16th century ( Gg.4.27.2 ) along with other texts such as: love affairs, saints ‘ lives, a aggregation of preachments, devotional plants, didactic narrations and several assorted points, which suggests that the text would appeal to an audience of utmost edification seeking amusement and advanced moral sophistication. Last, ‘King Horn ‘ appears in the British Library manuscript anthology ( Harley 2253 ) along with other texts such as: Latin and Gallic poetry, spiritual stuff and love verse forms, which suggests that the text would appeal to an audience of lingual competency in Latin or French ( along with Middle English ) seeking to understand different civilizations. Hence, the intent of the text is non expressed because it varies depending on the intended audience.

Scholars have concluded that ‘King Horn ‘ was written to be sung, chanted or recited. Such a public presentation might hold therefore masked certain metrical abnormalities. Due to the fact that about every line of the extant manuscripts contains divergent readings, bookmans speculate an sole common ascendant from which all three derive. This ascendant is, nevertheless, non the writer ‘s version. Scholars therefore speculate the ground for fluctuation among the manuscripts is perchance: scribal corruptness or add-ons made by performing artists or unprofessional adapters. The latter justification can transpirate in state of affairss where the narrative is orally performed therefore metrical abnormalities are non as discernable to the ear when there are distractions for the oculus.


Due to the fact that there was no standardised regional idiom of English during the period in which ‘King Horn ‘ was written, there were a assortment of spellings for single lexical points. Hence, the word ‘shall ‘ has several possible spellings in Middle English, such as: schal, schalle, shall, sall, xal, scal, scheal, schel, sci?»l, scel, ssel and si?»l ( Jones 1972:47 ) . One may therefore reason that the Middle English orthographic system was wholly lawless, perchance because the Middle English Scribes were incapable of spelling right. However, Jones ( 1972:47-48 ) postulates there is a high degree of consistence in the spelling patterns among Scribes within the same geographical country. In other words, Jones supposes that although there was no nationally accepted “ standard ” idiom before the mid-fifteenth century, there were seemingly regionally recognizable and accepted spelling norms. There is non much grounds in the text that supports such position but alternatively, contrary to Jones ‘ statement, there are several incompatibilities in the spelling of single words. The word ‘shall ‘ has the undermentioned discrepancies in the text: ‘schal ‘ ( line 3 ) , ‘shaltu ‘ ( line 50 ) , ‘schalt ‘ ( line 99 ) , ‘schulle ‘ ( line 107 ) and ‘schaltu ‘ ( line 202 ) . Similarly, the word ‘not ‘ has the undermentioned discrepancies in the text: ‘ne ‘ ( line 50 ) , ‘nere ‘ ( line 91 ) , ‘nothing ‘ ( line 278 ) , ‘nuste ‘ ( line 208 ) , ‘none ‘ ( line 286 ) and ‘noght ‘ ( line 316 ) . However, the fluctuations in spelling in the text may hold transpired in different syntactic environments. For illustration, ‘-tu ‘ may hold been affixed to the word ‘schal ‘ to organize ‘schaltu ‘ ( line 202 ) because it is preceded by the negation ‘ne. ‘

With regard to noun morphology, most inflexions in Middle English are highly similar ( Skeat 1907: xxviii-xxix ) , which signifies that Old English has undergone significant transmutations, perchance in order to simplify the linguistic communication. This transmutation, along with the fact that a immense figure of words were borrowed from Gallic and Latin, may therefore account for the non-standardization of Middle English idioms. Most nominal inflexions in Middle English have the suffix ‘-e ‘ – this includes: subject cases ‘alle ‘ ( line 1 ) , datives ‘birine ‘ ( line 11 ) and accusatives ‘sone ‘ ( line 9 ) . Conversely, plurals in Middle English tend to hold the suffix ‘-es ‘ – for illustration: ‘sones ‘ ( line 23 ) , ‘gomes ‘ ( line 24 ) and ‘schipes ‘ ( line 41 ) . However, there are instances in the text that explicitly indicate exclusions to the norm plural postfix ‘-es ‘ – such as: ‘feren ‘ ( line 21 ) , ‘londe ‘ ( line 40 ) and ‘Sarazins ‘ ( line 42 ) . Furthermore, one would anticipate from a Middle English narration, the inflexions on nouns to look in the signifier of lone postfixs. However, the dative ‘biweste ‘ ( line 5 ) has the prefix ‘bi- ‘ ( which refers to the preposition ‘in ‘ ) along with the suffix ‘-e ‘ ( which indicates the dative instance ) . Although this peculiar illustration of prefixing is bizarre in the text, it is besides uncommon to admit in a Middle English narration. Hence, some may reason the poet was being excessively originative is his authorship by withstanding morphological conventions of the regional idiom ( although no regional idiom has been officially standardized ) , which may hold contributed to the diminution in the position of Middle English. Nevertheless, such creativity may hold attracted the poet ‘s intended audience.

With respect to syntactic characteristics, ‘King Horn ‘ does non follow the modern-day word order Subject/Verb/Object but instead the word order Subject/Object/Verb ‘Alle beon he blithe ‘ ( line 1 ) , which was likely the constitutional order normally recognized as the norm. In add-on, Herzman, Drake and Salisbury ( 1999 ) allege that in mediaeval love affair it was conventional for the scoundrel to be placed in resistance to the hero. This impression hence explains the ground for the name ‘Athulf ‘ ( a loyal friend to Horn ) being mentioned merely before the name ‘Fikenhild ‘ ( a disloyal friend to Horn ) in the sentence ‘Athuld was the best, and Fikenhild the worst ‘ ( lines 29-30 ) , whereby the poet intentionally based the latter ‘s name on the Old English word ‘ficol, ‘ which means ‘decietful. ‘

With regard to dialect characteristics, there are several morphological groundss that signify the text was written in a peculiar regional idiom. The undermentioned words have the past participial postfix ‘-en ‘ or ‘-e ‘ ( which indicates a South Midland idiom ) : ‘luvede ‘ ( line 26 ) , ‘riden ‘ ( line 37 ) , ‘axede ‘ ( line 43 ) , ‘ofherde ‘ ( line 45 ) and ‘answarede ‘ ( line 46 ) . Conversely, there are few cases in which the past participial postfix is wholly different therefore does non bespeak the text was written in a South Midland dialect – for illustration: ‘het ‘ ( line 7 and 9 ) , ‘woned ‘ ( line 36 ) and ‘arived ‘ ( line 40 ) . However, such disparity does non connote the narration was written in any other regional idiom, which is reinforced by the fact that these words do non match to the norm past participle postfix of any regional idiom. The plural present tense declarative ‘be ‘ in a South Midland idiom can presume one of the possible signifiers: ‘ben, ‘ ‘aren, ‘ ‘arn, ‘ ‘ern, ‘ ‘beo? ‘ or ‘bu? . ‘ However, in the text, there are disagreements in the usage of the plural present tense declarative ‘be ‘ – such as: ‘beon ‘ ( line 1 ) , ‘ben ‘ ( line 8 ) and ‘beo ‘ ( line 10 ) – which besides does non match to any other regional idiom. Furthermore, there are incompatibilities in the usage of the first individual pronoun, which appears as ‘ich ‘ ( line 3 ) but more frequently as ‘ihc ‘ elsewhere in the text, which portrays a northern influence on the text, perchance imposed by the poet himself or the Scribe. Hence, one may reason, based on morphological and lexemic grounds, the poet was possibly integrating different dialectal characteristics in the narrative in order to be original and pull the huge audience of different regional idioms.

‘King Horn ‘ , like most verse forms in the ten percent and 11th century ( whether written in English or French ) , has a typical poetic characteristic of riming pairs. However, in the instance of this peculiar text, the lines are uncharacteristically short ( i.e. the lines tend to incorporate merely three to five emphasiss, for illustration ‘Alle beon he blithe ‘ ( line 1 ) ) in comparing to the conventional octosyllabics of Gallic love affair or their accentual English equivalent. Nevertheless, Dalrymple ( 2004:81 ) argues such originality gives the narrative an curiously lyrical quality, which is reinforced by its frequent repeats of phrases ‘ [ aˆ¦ ] Murry the Kinge. King he was ‘ ( lines 4-5 ) and its ballad-like brusqueness of motion ‘Arived on his londe, Schipes fiftene ‘ ( lines 40-41 ) . Furthermore, one would anticipate, from the genre of the Middle English love affair, the verse form to incorporate several metaphors and similes, which are basic poetic characteristics. However, in the full narration there is non a individual metaphor that exists simply on the degree of verbal manner. However, there is an equivocal symbolism of a dream, which many bookmans consider as a foreshowing but Dalrymple ( 2004:82 ) considers the symbolism as a metaphor that maps structurally ( i.e. on the degree of action ) . Conversely, similes are non absent in the verse form but is however highly rare. Line 14-16 ‘He was bright so the glas ; He was whit so the flur ‘ portray comparings between beautiful objects and the hero, although modern-day readers would anticipate such comparings to be applied to a heroine instead than to a hero even during such babyhood. Hence, the leaning for short lines, the absence of metaphors and the rarity of similes are all untypical characteristics of Middle English narrations. This evokes the impression that the poet was possibly deliberately trying to be original and originative in his authorship ( during an epoch in which no English regional idiom has been standardized ) in order to pull the diverse audience of that period, which would accordingly take the way towards standardising the regional idiom. This position is further reinforced by the original usage of the word ‘Christ ‘ ( line 48 ) , in a state of affairs that poses a quandary in the narrative, instead than the conventional pattern in Middle English love affairs where the word was typically used in supplication.

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