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Permanent Academic Staff. College Website. Chaucer A European Life. Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies. A Handbook of Middle English Studies. Imagining Polities: Social Possibilities and Conflict. Thomas Usk and John Arderne. These medical texts have been divided into handbooks and scientific treatises on the basis of their assumed audience general versus professional.
A strictly academic medical treatise is included in ME3 and therefore a surgical text was chosen to represent the scientific category in ME4. Continuity is also provided by the inclusion of a medical remedy book representing the most popular type of medical writing cf. Peri Didaxeon of ME1.
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As in earlier periods, nonimaginative narration is represented by histories and biographies - the latest life of a saint St. Edmund dates from the fifteenth century. Extracts from a city chronicle are included in ME4. Caxton's prologues and epilogues are coded as a separate text type.
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These short, independent explanations and contemplations on the contents and purpose of the translated works reflect Caxton's own use of language, and they have been considered predecessors of essays introduced into English about a century later. The division into subperiods makes working with the Helsinki Corpus more practical, but it causes certain problems concerning genre development and text type representation. Manuscript tradition and scribal practices had to be taken into account when ascribing texts to the subperiods.
In several cases the edited copy is considerably later than the original text.
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According to the current view a scribe could treat the exemplar he was copying principally in three ways: he could copy literatim, translate into his own dialect, or he could do something between these alternatives McIntosh  : In most cases scribes converted the language into their own dialect; it remained unchanged only rarely LALME , 1: As far as we know, the majority of the manuscripts of ME3 are contemporaneous with the originals, but only the documents and official letters can be considered to be originals. The question remains open i.
In the same way in ME4, many of the original texts date from the previous period, or their date is not known. Richard Rolle's works are placed in ME4 although he lived in the early fourteenth century, because all extant manuscripts date from the fifteenth century.
Digby , dated c. The language of the text is, however, traditionally regarded as Middle English, and this has caused the deviation from our general practice of subsection placement according to the date of the manuscript. One of our compilation principles was to provide continuity. This requirement is met with the inclusion of Chaucer's Boethius and Wycliffe's Bible. The Life of St. The authors of 15 of the 35 texts in ME3 are known.
As a central literary figure in this period, Geoffrey Chaucer is represented by as many as nine texts. Owing to their different types, his texts are found in four text type groupings: handbooks Astrolabe , philosophy Boethius and part one of The Tale of Melibee , religious treatises The Parson's Tale and fiction further extracts from The Canterbury Tales. It is impossible to establish which of Wycliffe's assistants translated his Bible. All these known authors were male and of high professional rank.
This also mainly applies to ME4 authors, most of whom are mentioned by name, though background knowledge may be lacking. However, female authors are introduced for the first time in ME4 Margery Kempe, Julian of Norwich, and some authors of private letters, such as Margaret Paston and the range of authors' professional status also becomes wider, and no longer merely "high professional" for example Metham, or Reynes. In ME3 all writing was dialectal. The time limits for ME4 were established with regard to the rise of the national standard.
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Since ME3 is an important period for study of the roots and early rise of the standard variety of English, all text categories that have been suggested as influential in this development are included in the subsection: London English, both the Chancery type documents and the court type Chaucer, Gower , and the Wycliffite writings see Samuels The importance of London is noted in the choice of texts, and other parts of East Midlands, especially Norfolk, are represented as well.
There are only a few texts from the West Midlands or the South. The spread of the standard is reflected in the texts of ME4, e. The values given to the dialect parameter are somewhat complicated. LALME had not come out when we compiled the corpus, and therefore we relied on the MED Supplement and the individual text editions for dialect definition. For practical reasons, abbreviations of the main dialect areas and the source are used in coding the parameter, and the location is indicated in the Manual.
We were presented with a problem at this point: LALME usually gives the localization by county and grid reference, but for Northern texts the reference is often more general. Most traditional maps of the main dialect areas follow the lines drawn by Moore, Meech and Whitehall , which run across county borders.
Jordan , adopted a system which takes the county borders into account. For the sake of precision we adopted Jordan's classification.
We would like to emphasize that the diachronic part of the Helsinki Corpus does not aim at being a corpus of historical dialects, although this parameter provides additional information that may prove useful to scholars. In our choice of texts dialectal distribution was not decisive; other factors, e. The main dialect areas are not evenly represented, but the focus changes from West to East Midlands according to the importance of the area in the extant literature of the period and the development of the language in general. For example, Caxton's language can hardly be described as dialectal, although the value EMO East Midland, other has been ascribed to it on external evidence.
The parameter gives us information about the original place of writing of the Late Middle English texts, and it should not be interpreted as an indication of dialectal writing versus standard. Relationship to a foreign original can be established for nine ME3 texts. Chaucer's Boethius is based on both the Latin original, Latin commentaries by Nicholas Trivet and others, and a French prose version by Jean de Meun Benson : The origins of Mandeville's Travels are uncertain: it was probably composed in Anglo-Norman Blake : Aelred of Rievaulx's De Institutione Inclusarum is included in two independent translations.
The first of these ME3 derives from Latin and only includes the last twenty sections. The second ME4 renders the whole work from French. The main part of Caxton's work consists of translations, e. One of the overall aims of the Helsinki Corpus is to provide material that is as close to the spoken language of the time as possible. The relationship to spoken language is difficult to establish for early texts. Only the Wycliffite Sermons may have some such connection in ME3, though there is no decisive evidence. All the other texts represent written language, but only the documents and official letters representing the extreme end of the continuum have been classified as strictly formal.
The two new text types that emerge in ME4, drama and private letters, bring us closer to the oral mode: drama imitates speech within its own constraints, and private letters contain passages with a colloquial tone, although the beginnings and endings follow set formulas cf.
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Davis : 7, Private letters have been marked as "written", although some of them were taken down from dictation. Both plays and letters have been described as "interactive". Private correspondence in Middle English provides the earliest data for sociolinguistic studies. The value "informal" is applied to private letters and the participant relationship ranges from intimate equal to intimate up or down wife to husband and vice versa.
We have made the distinction between scientific writings and handbooks on the basis of the audience or readership, i. The sociolinguistic aspect was decisive in the choice of handbooks. John Metham's and Robert Reynes of Acle's backgrounds and readership are well known, which makes the application of sociolinguistic parameters possible. Such exact information is increasingly available towards the end of ME4, and in the following periods.
The Wycliffite Sermons of the same subperiod are labelled as "sermons", and this term is used to describe all later sermon-type texts. Benson, Larry ed. The Riverside Chaucer. Oxford: Oxford University Press. History Law Linguistics Literature. Music Neuroscience Philosophy Physical Sciences. Read More. All rights reserved.
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