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names, the house, the roof, the home, the hearth. His ‘board' too, and often probably it was no more, has a more hospitable sound than the “table’ of his lord. His sturdy arms turn the soil; he is the boor, the hind, the chur/; or if his Norman master has a name for him, it is one which on his lips becomes more and more a title of opprobrium and contempt, the ‘villain.' The instruments used in cultivating the earth, the flail, the plough, the sickle, the spade, are expressed in his language; so too the main products of the earth, as wheat, rye, oats, bere; and no less the names of domestic animals. Concerning these last it is curious to observe that the names of almost all animals, so long as they are alive, are thus Saxon, but when dressed and prepared for food become Norman—a fact indeed which we might have expected beforehand; for the Saxon hind had the charge and labour of tending and feeding them, but only that they might appear on the table of his Norman lord. Thus ov, steer, cow, are Saxon, but beef Norman; calf is Saxon, but veal Norman; sheep is Saxon, but muffon Norman; so it is severally with swine and pork, deer and venison, sowl and pullet. Putting all this together, with much more of the same kind, which has only been indicated here, we should certainly gather, that while there are manifest tokens preserved in our language of the Saxon having been for a season an inferior and even an oppressed race, the stable elements of AngloSaxon life, however overlaid for a while, had still made good their claim to be the solid groundwork of the after nation as of the after language; and to the justice of this conclusion all other historic records, and the present social condition of England, consent in bearing witness-Study of Words, 12th ed., 1867, pp. 98–1oo.

42. This duplicate system of words in English was the result of a long period during which the country was in a bilingual condition. The language of the consumer was one, and that of the producer another. In the market the seller and the buyer must have spoken different languages, both languages being familiar in sound to either party: just as on the frontier of the English and Welsh in the present day large numbers of people have a practical acquaintance with both languages, while they can talk in one only. This it is which has brought down upon the rustic Welsh the unjust imputation of saying Dim Saesong out of churlishness. They may understand the enquiry, and yet they may not possess English enough to make answer with. A frontier between English and French must have existed in the Norman period in every town and district of England. It was a bilingual condition which lasted down to the middle of the fourteenth century, when a mixed English language broke forth and took the lead. During three centuries, the native language was cast into the shade by the foreign speech of the conquerors. All that time French was getting more and more widely known and spoken; and it never covered so wide an area in this island as it did at the moment when the native speech upreared her head again to assert a permanent supremacy. As the waters of a river are often shallowest there where they cover the widest area, so the French language had then the feeblest hold in this country, when it was most widely cultivated and most generally affected,

§ 6. The Literature of the Transition. First Period.

43. Saxon had never ceased to be the speech of the body of the people. The Conquest could not alter this fact. What the Conquest did was to destroy the cultivated Englisc, which depended for its propagation upon literature and literary men. This once extinct, there was no central or standard language. The French language in some respects supplied the place of a standard language, as the medium of intercourse between persons in the best ranks of society. The native speech, bereft of its central standard, fell abroad again. It fell back into that divided condition, in which each speaker and each writer is guided by the dialect of his own locality, undisciplined by any central standard of propriety. Our language became dialectic. And hence it comes to pass that of the authors whose books are preserved from the year A.D. 11oo to 1350, no two of them are uniform in dialect; each speaks a tongue of its own. We can divide this large tract of time into two parts, corresponding vaguely to the culmination and decline of the French fashion. It must be understood here, and wherever figures are given to distinguish periods in the history of language, that it is intended for the convenience of writer and reader, for distinctness of arrangement, and as an aid to the memory, rather than as a rigid limit. For in such things the two bordering forms so shade off and blend into one another, that they are not to be rigidly outlined any more than the primary colours in the rainbow.

44. For convenience sake, we may divide the ‘Transition' into two parts, and add a third era for the infancy of the national language:—

TRANSITION. Broken Saxon (Latin documentary period) from 1 too to 1215 Early English (French documentary period) . 1215 to 135o First national English . - - - . I 350 to I55o

Of the first division of this period, the grand landmarks are two poems, namely Layamon's Brut, and the Ormulum ; Layamon representing the dialect of the south and west, and Orm that of the east and north. The Brut of Layamon, a work which embodies in a poetic form the legends of British history, and which exceeds 30,000 lines, was edited, with an English translation, by Sir Frederic Madden, in 1847. Besides discussions on the language and the date, which is assigned to 1205, the leading passages for beauty or importance are indicated in a way which gives the reader an immediate command of the contents of this voluminous work. Such a poem as this was not the work of any one year, or even of a few years. It must be regarded as the life-long hobby of Layamon the priest, who lived at Areley Kings, on the west bank of the Severn, opposite Stourport, and who there served the church, being the chaplain and inmate of ‘the good knight’ of the parish. His language runs back and claims a near relationship to that of the close of the latest Saxon Chronicle: and this connection rests not on local but rather on literary affinity. 45. For it is easier to describe Layamon by his literary than by his local affinities. He is the last writer who retains an echo of the literary Englisc. Though he wrote for popular use, yet the scholar is apparent; he had conned the old native literature enough to give a tinge to his diction, and to preserve a little of the ancient grammar. Among the more observable features of his language are the following:— Infinitives in i, ie, or y; the use of v forf; the use of u for i or y in such words as dude, did; hudde, hid; hulle, hill; pulle, pit. What adds greatly to the philological interest of the Brut is this, that a later text is extant, a text which bears the evident stamp of Northern English. It has been printed parallel with the elder text. One of the most salient characters of the northern dialect was its avoidance of the old sc initial, which had become sh. The northern dialect in such cases wrote simply s. The northern form for shall was sall, as indeed it continues to be to the present day. So among the tribes of Israel at the time of the Judges, it was a peculiarity of the tongue of the Ephraimites that they could not frame to pronounce sh, but said Sibboleth

instead of Shibboleth. This is so distinct a feature of our

[blocks in formation]

Sceldes, shields
Sceort, short
Scuten, they shot
Sceren, scar; shear, shore
Scean, shone

Scip, ship

Scame, shame
Sculderen, shoulders
Scunede, shunned

SEcond TExt.

Saft
Sarpe
Seape
Sal, salt, sollen, solle],
Seldes
Sort
Soten
Seren, sar
Son

Sip

The wall of Severus, which was made against the Picts, is called in the elder text scid wall, that is, wall of separation, ©djeibe-QSass; and in the later or northern text it is

sid wal.

46. Our first quotation presents the two texts side by side, with the editor's translation appended :—

Same
Soldre
Somede

Line 23495.

ELDER TExT.

pa cleopede Aröur,
aečelest kingen:
Whar bed 3e mine Bruttes,
balde mine paines;
be daei him foró 3eongeS,
pis folc us agein stondeb.
lette we heom to gliden
scaerpe gares inose,
& techen heom to riden
bene wari touward Romen.
AEfne pan worde
pe Aröur iseide,
he sprong foró an stede,
swa sparc det of fure.
Him weore fuliende
fifti pusende.

YoUNGER TExT.

po cleopede Arthur,
boldest of kinges:
Ware bed 3e mine Bruttus,
bolde mine cnihtes;
be dai him for), gop,
pis folk vs agen stondep.
lete we to ham glide
sarpe gares inowe,
and teche 3am to ride
pane wei toward Rome.
Efne pan worde
pat Arthur po saide,
hii spronge forb vppen stedes,
ase sparc dop of fure.
Him were fol:ende
fiftie pousend.

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