Monday, June 22, 2009

English in the Grammar Schools, 1352-1385

Ranulph Higden’s Polychronicon, 1352

" This impairing of the birth tongue is because of two things; one is for children in school, against the usage and manner of all other nations be compelled for to leave their own language and for to construe their lessons and their things in French, and so they have since the Normans came first into England. Also gentlemen's children be taught to speak French from the time that they be rocked in their cradle, and can speak, and play with a child's brooch; and uplandish [men] will liken themselves to gentlemen and strive with great busyness for to speak French for to be talked of."

From Trevisa’s translation of Ranulph Higden’s Polychronicon, 1387:

" Thys manere (of translating Latin into French) was moche y- used tofore the furste moreyn, and ys sethe somdel ychaunged. For Johan Cornwal, a mayster of gramere, chayngede the lore in gramer-scole, and construccion of Freynsch into Englysch; and Richard Pencrych lurnede that manere techyng of hym, and other men of Pencrych, so that now, the yere of oure Lord a thousond three hondred foure score and fyve, of the seconde kyng Richard after the conquest nyne, in al the gramer-scoles of Engelond childern leveth Frensch and construeth and lurneth an Englysch, and habbeth thereby avanntage in on syde and desavauntage yn another. Ther avauntage ys that they lurneth ther gramer in lesse tyme than childern were i-woned to doo; desavauntage ys that now childern of gramer-scole conneth na more Frensche than can thir lift heele, and that is harme for them an they schulle passe the see and travaille in straunge landes and in many other places."

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