Middle English

In this section, Texts (1) - (3) are all taken from the Ellesmere MS of the Canterbury Tales (now MS San Marino, California, Huntington Library 26. C. 9, olim Earl of Ellesmere's MS), and represent the "prototypical" ME generally described in Chapter 4. These texts have all been taken from the Riverside Chaucer (ed. L.Benson et al., Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988), but with some modifications of punctuation; the texts have also been checked against transcriptions of the manuscript. Texts (4) - (8) are given as short representative selections from larger works written earlier and later in the ME period, or in places other than London. Text (9) is an example of less formal writing, ie. a late-fifteenth-century letter. A gloss is supplied for Texts (1) - (3), (8) and (9) at the end of each passage; translations for Texts (4) - (6) are given, again at the end of each passage. Since ME punctuation is idiosyncratic and often fairly sparse in many manuscripts, editorial punctuation is used here.

  1. From The General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales
  2. From The Pardoner's Tale
  3. From The Parson's Tale
  4. From The Peterborough Chronicle
  5. From Sir Orfeo
  6. From Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
  7. From William Caxton's Preface to his edition of the Morte Darthure
  8. From Sir Thomas Malory's The Morte Darthur
  9. A letter from Margaret Paston