Something New Every Day: Managing three languages in the dark ages
It’s tempting to imagine the people of medieval England as under-educated, under-fed, over-worked sods without a whole lot of joy in their lives shuffling around in the mud and killing each other willy-nilly. But to be successful and thrive in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, the people needed to negotiate three languages which were in use.
- Latin – language of church, education, philosophy
- French – courtship, administration, culture
- Middle English – popular expression, regional dialect, personal reflection
That’s not to say that all medieval people were fluent in any of these languages but many would have had to have a passing ability with all three to negotiate the various aspects of their lives and some would have had to have a high degree of facility with all three in order to further their situation.
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