Ask-A-Linguist Message Details
I have a big interest in historical languages. One of them in
particular is Middle English. I have studied the pronunciation of
Chaucer's Middle English, which was a later version of the London
dialect of Middle English. One day, I was reading about Middle
English, and I came across the subject Ormulum. After some
research, I found that the poem was composed in a very early
version of the East Midlands dialect of Middle English. I also
read that the unique orthography and alliterative nature of the
poem preserved much of the pronunciation found in the language in
that dialect at that time, which has allowed linguists to
reconstruct the pronunciation of the dialect at that time.
Now, I have two questions: How did linguists reconstruct the
pronunciation of Ormulum's version of the language? and What was
the pronunciation of Ormulum's version of the lanuguage?
(It would be greatly appreciated if links were provided, along
with a chart for the pronunciation. It would be great if I could
also get a crash course in sound reconstruction.)
Probably the best and most convenient reference for you to go to on the pronunciation of Middle English and its development is Volume II of The Cambridge History of the English Language, edited by Norman Blake (Cambridge University Press, 1992). You should be able to find it at university library.
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