Of the langage of the inhabitatores of Englonde. Capitulum quinquagesimum nonum.
HIT may be schewede clerely to the wytte that there were so mony diuersites of langages in that londe as were diuersites of nacions. But Scottes and men of Wales kepe theire propre langage, as men inpermixte with other naciones; but perauenture Scottes haue taken somme parte Page 159, vol.2 in theire communicacion of the langage of Pictes, with whom thei dwellede somme tyme, and were confederate with theyme. Men of Flaundres that inhabite the weste partes of Wales levenge the speche of barbre speke after the Saxones. And thauȝhe men of Englonde hade in the begynnenge a langage tripartite, as of the sowthe parte of Englond, of the myddelle parte of Englonde, and of the northe parte of Englonde, procedenge as of thre peple of Germanye, borowe moche in theire speche now, as of*. [So Harl. MS., but perhaps as of should be cancelled.] thro the commixtion [folio 79b] with the Danes and after that with the Normannes. The corrupcion of that natife langage is causede moche of ij. thynges, that is to say, childer sette to schole after the commenge of Normannes in to Englonde were compellede to constru in Frenche ageyne the consuetude of oþer naciones. In so moche that the childer of nowble men, after that thei were taken from the cradelle, were sette to lerne the speche of Frenche men. Wherefore churles seenge that, willenge to be like to theyme, laborede to speke Frenche with alle theire myȝhte. Where hit is to be hade Page 161, vol.2 in meruayle that the propur langage of Englische men scholde be made so diuerse in oon lytelle yle in pronuncia|cion, sythe the langage of Normannes is oon and vniuocate allemoste amonge theyme alle. But as of the tripartite langage of Saxones, whiche remaynethe now but amonge fewe men, the*. [the the, Harl. MS.] weste men of Englonde sownde and acorde more with the men of the este of that londe as vnder the same clyme of heuyn, then the men of the northe with men of the sowthe. Wherefore hit is that Englische men of þe Marches of the mydelle partes of Englonde, takenge as by Page 163, vol.2 participacion the nature of bothe extremities, vnderstonde the langages collateralle arthike and anthartike better then the extremites vnderstonde theyme selfe to geder. Willel|mus de Pontificibus, libro tertio. Alle the langage of men of Northumbrelonde, and specially in Yorke, sowndethe so that men of the sowthe cuntre may vnnethe vnderstonde the langage of theyme, whiche thynge may be causede for the nye langage of men of barbre to theyme, and also for the grete distaunce of kynges of Englonde from hyt, whiche vse moste the southe partes of that londe, returnenge not in to the costes of the northe but with a grete multi|tude. Also an other cause may be assignede, for the sowthe partes be more habundante in fertilite then the northe partes, moo peple in nowmbre, hauenge also more plesaunte portes.