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Subject: Ormulum's English
Question: 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.)
Reply: You probably need to do some reading in the methodology of historical linguistics, and also in the history of English. This is not an easy matter thing to study on your own, and you would benefit from a teacher. Can you sign up for any courses online or at a local university? Orrm had a brilliant mind (though his poetry is deadly dull), and a good ear for phonetics. He is an important source for information of Middle English pronunciation because he is so explicit and systematic in his spelling. He used a doubled consonant (as in his name) to signal a short preceding vowel. Have you seen The Ormulum Project ( You can hear a bit of the Orrmulum at: (The book is worth buying too). Anthea
Reply From: Anthea Fraser Gupta      click here to access email
Date: 02-Dec-2012
Other Replies:
  1. Re: Ormulum's English    Nancy J. Frishberg     (26-Nov-2012)
  2. Re: Ormulum's English    Susan D Fischer     (24-Nov-2012)
  3. Re: Ormulum's English    Herbert Frederic Stahlke     (24-Nov-2012)

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