> Stickler, you say you're reminded of Chaucer... but then what
> do you think? Is it unintelligible to you, or quite the
> I've never read Chaucer before, but scanning through this
> passage, I find it remarkably plain English ("as plain as can
> be expected" from a poem). The spelling is fun, though
> distracting, and if I really wanted to digest this passage
> I'd rewrite first - but it wouldn't be very hard.
I posted it in connection with nonconformist's comments about changing vocabulary. I agreed with the point nonconformist was making. Geoffrey Chaucer's Middle English vocabulary confirms the point nonconformist was making. The Canterbury Tales are written in Middle English. I agree that they're comprehensible in this form for the most part. I disagree that Middle English is equivalent to "remarkably plain English". The spelling might be fun, but it wasn't nonconformist's point. Nor is it mine. It wasn't so much a question of spelling as of vocabulary.
Without cheating, perhaps you could hazard a guess as to what the following highlighted words mean:
Of Absolon and hende Nicholas,
But it were oonly Osewold the Reve.
He gan to grucche, and blamed it a lite.
This white top writeth myne olde yeris, Myn herte is also mowled as myne heris, But if I fare as dooth an open-ers, - That ilke fruyt is ever lenger the wers, Til it be roten in mullok or in stree.
"Foure gleedes han we whiche I shal devyse, - Avauntyng, liyng, anger, coveitise; Thise foure sparkles longen unto eelde.
Is Beowulf relevant to this particular discussion? If so, here's a snippet in the original Anglo-Saxon:
Hwæt! We Gardena in geardagum,
þeodcyninga, þrym gefrunon,
hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon.
Oft Scyld Scefing sceaþena þreatum,
monegum mægþum, meodosetla ofteah,
egsode eorlas. Syððan ærest wearð
feasceaft funden, he þæs frofre gebad,
weox under wolcnum, weorðmyndum þah,
oðþæt him æghwylc þara ymbsittendra
ofer hronrade hyran scolde,
gomban gyldan. þæt wæs god cyning!
ðæm eafera wæs æfter cenned,
geong in geardum, þone god sende
folce to frofre; fyrenðearfe ongeat
þe hie ær drugon aldorlease
lange hwile. Him þæs liffrea,
wuldres wealdend, woroldare forgeaf;
Beowulf wæs breme (blæd wide sprang),
Scyldes eafera Scedelandum in.
Swa sceal geong guma gode gewyrcean,
fromum feohgiftum on fæder bearme,
þæt hine on ylde eft gewunigen
wilgesiþas, þonne wig cume,
leode gelæsten; lofdædum sceal
in mægþa gehwære man geþeon.
Him ða Scyld gewat to gescæphwile
felahror feran on frean wære.
Hi hyne þa ætbæron to brimes faroðe,
swæse gesiþas, swa he selfa bæd,
þenden wordum weold wine Scyldinga;
leof landfruma lange ahte.
þær æt hyðe stod hringedstefna,
isig ond utfus, æþelinges fær.
Aledon þa leofne þeoden,
beaga bryttan, on bearm scipes,
mærne be mæste. þær wæs madma fela
of feorwegum, frætwa, gelæded;
ne hyrde ic cymlicor ceol gegyrwan
hildewæpnum ond heaðowædum,
billum ond byrnum; him on bearme læg
madma mænigo, þa him mid scoldon
on flodes æht feor gewitan.