Very good. thanks for giving me a much-needed history lesson ;-) On Wednesday, January 29, 2014 2:55 PM, R A Brown <[log in to unmask]> wrote: On 29/01/2014 18:35, Padraic Brown wrote: > R A Brown <[log in to unmask]> wrote: > > >> [In 13th century England] the king and the nobility >> used Anglo-Norman; it was used law courts, schools, and >> universities. Eventually it became used by some >> sections of the gentry and the growing bourgeoisie, >> until it gave way Middle English in the 14th century. >> >> Medieval England was trilingual: Medieval Latin was >> used by the Church and for much official administration >> (legal documents etc.), Anglo-Norman as indicated >> above, and English by the peasantry. > > I wonder though exactly how trilingual was the average > person in England (and in any given social stratum) at > that time? That would need doing a bit of social history research to determine the strata and also, defining 'average'. All I meant by saying that medieval England was trilingual was that three different languages were in use. I certainly did not wish to imply that all or even many inhabitants were trilingual. I think I deal with the peasantry - largely monoglot English; but they would know things like the Pater Noster in Latin, and be familiar with commonly occurring phrases from the Latin liturgy. In other words a passive comprehension of a small set of Latin. How much Anglo-Norman they might pick up would, I guess, depend on their contact with Norman overlords. > In other words, I would suspect that an educated > clergyman would be relatively at ease in all three > languages, If he was of English stock. for some higher clerics of continental origin - Latin was the lingua france at that level. They might know French, but it might not be quite like that of England ;) > and that the growing bourgeoisie would likewise have been > conversant surely in English and possibly get a pass in > A-N, but possibly not know much in the way of Latin. It seems that some, at least, of the growing bourgeoisie would be reasonably competent in Anglo-Norman - children might be l1 speakers. I suspect rising bourgeoisie would not be so different from rising bourgeoisie generally, i.e. you distance yourself from your peasant roots. But then, of course, during the 14th century it would be all over to English to ape their betters ;) > But, how trilingual were the actual (imported) nobility > and the natives themselves? Not at all in the beginning. Most were monoglot Anglo-Normans - though probably had a limited passive understanding of Latin like the peasantry above. They relied clerks to do the Latin work for them. But as they intermarried with English stock, the English language began to make its way up, so to speak, otherwise king and nobility would never have got round to speaking English! During the 14th century, Anglo-Norman was on the wane and Middle English was replacing it at all levels of society. > How conversant would an average charcoal burner or farmer > have been in Anglo-Norman? Not at all, I imagine. > How conversant were the nobles in English? Not at all at first; but they got better as time went on and seem to be pretty good at it by the end of the 14th century. > As I recall, it wasn't until Henry V that English came to > be reinstated as the language of government. Henry V (reigned 1413 to 1422) was certainly English speaking, and so was his court. But English had been used earlier than that. AFAIK Edward III is the first monarch since Saxon times to have used English. He addressed parliament in English in 1362. By the end of the century the court was regularly using English. -- Ray ================================== http://www.carolandray.plus.com ================================== "Ein Kopf, der auf seine eigene Kosten denkt, wird immer Eingriffe in die Sprache thun." [J.G. Hamann, 1760] "A mind that thinks at its own expense will always interfere with language".