Middle English and Anglo-Norman in Contact
Ingham, Richard (Birmingham City University)
ENGLISH LITERARY SOCIETY OF JAPAN CONFERENCE, TOKYO UNIVERSITY, MAY (2009)
Anglo-Norman: some ‘internet myths’
1. ‘Anglo-Normans had an active command of Middle English, which had become, by the end of the twelfth century, their first language. From the 1160s, vernacular French had been declining and by 1180 formal, grammatical French had become a second, acquired language. By the early 13th century, formal and grammatical French had been reduced to a second language, a tongue of acquisition, in England. The primer of Walter de Bibbesworth (1250×1260), produced for Lady Denise de Montchesney, assumed that knightly families spoke English and some French, but would want to learn a more syntactical French.’
FACT: Bibbesworth’s poem teaches lexis, not syntax. Its morphosyntax is insular, not continental French.