The emergence of the English language as an educational medium in Medieval England

The emergence of the English language as an educational medium in Medieval England

McCahon, Thomas J.

M.A. Thesis, Kansas State University (1982)


The educational system as it presently exists in England is based upon a standard language, English. But, English has not always been the language base for a medium of educational exchange in England. Prior to the middle of the fourteenth century all education was conducted in either Latin or French. Since  the English language is used as a medium of educational instruction in English schools today, there had to have been a transitional period in which the English language was accepted into the schools. It is this transition period in English history that is the principle study in this paper.

The underlying theme of this study is to concentrate on the early developmental stages of the English language in Medieval England through the studies of linguistics, the education system and literature. This paper will show that English was not a practical instrument of education prior to 1350 A.D. Upon assimilation of Romanic words into the English vocabulary, there arose the opportunity for the language to acquire a depth of vocabulary sufficient to fulfill the needs of an educational institution. It is the acquisition of these Romanic loan words and the opportunity they provided education which will be presented.

In no other studies or references to the development of the English language, is credit given to the expulsion of the French by Edward I, or the Hundred Years War as possible contributing factors to the reemergence of English. There are only limited references which attribute the Black Death as a factor in the rise of English. The potential of all these factors and others will be examined in this paper as to the possible role if any that they may have played in the reemergence of the English language in Medieval England.

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