Feb 14th 2013

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Valentine’s Day and the progression of Modern English!

About 700 years ago was actually the first time that the word “Valentine’s Day” appeared in print in a romantic context in a poem by Chaucer:

“For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.”

This passage was written in Middle English which was used from the 11th – 15th Centuries. Translated into modern English, this poem would read:

“For this was on Saint Valentine’s Day,
when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.”

Chaucer’s Middle English began changing into Early Modern English during the 15th Century. Events that marked the change from Middle to Early Modern English were the “Great Vowel Shift” (where long vowel sounds changed away from their origins in Latin and Italian), the migration of people to south England as a result of the Black Plague, the introduction of the printing press in the 1470s and the English standardizations occurring by the government in London.

Chaucer was the foremost writer during the Middle English period, but it would not be until the time of Shakespeare in the 14th – 15th Century that English would progress to a modern form that people in the 21st Century could easily understand.

Happy Valentines day from Ginger!

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