A Guide to Chaucer’s Language by David Burnley (auth.) PDF
By David Burnley (auth.)
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Additional resources for A Guide to Chaucer’s Language
According to 40 A GUIDE TO CHAUCER'S LANGUAGE how we think of the action, or how we wish to express the relationship, we shall choose a particular form of the verb to represent it. For example: (a) they are swimming (b) they swim (c) fish swim In all three the present tense of the verb is used, but the expanded form with the verb 'to be' in example (a) indicates that the action of swimming extends over a period of time which includes the present moment. :l Outside such a context, it would be taken to imply a repeated action or habit (on Saturdays), or else the statement of an accomplishment true within a rather ill-defined present: they are not actually swimming at the moment.
This can lead to uncertainty in interpretation. In the following there is a sharp break in sense after blak, and the word hye is an adverb qualifying the past participle ywrye and not a predicative adjective: Thurghout the citee by the maister streete That sprad was al with blak and wonder hye Right of the same is the strete ywrye. (A 2902-2904) 38 A GUIDE TO CHAUCER'S LANGUAGE Similarly, in a second example from the Knight's Tale: Ful hye upon a chaar of gold stood he. (A 2138) In both the above examples, the final -e is a clue to the adverbial function of hye, for in neither would an inflexional -e be correct in the adjective.
Forms which are apparently reflexive forms may be used as the subject of a sentence. In a few such cases the verb shows third-person concord even though the subject is apparently first person. The effect is that of an emphatic pronoun: This to seye myself hath been the whippe (D 175) By contrast, the ordinary forms of the pronoun may be used in reflexive constructions: This Absolon doun sette hym on his knees (A 3723) Demonstratives Chaucer's language uses the demonstratives that and this (singular) and tho and thise (plural) together with a contracted phrase, thilke, and these present few difficulties of interpretation.
A Guide to Chaucer’s Language by David Burnley (auth.)