Northern Middle English: Towards telling the full story

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The purpose of this article, which is part of an ongoing research project on the history of Northern English, is to give more detailed information about these varieties in the Middle English period, which may serve to modify the somewhat simplistic and general views found in most histories of the language. Traditional accounts of the Northern dialects usually consist of a list of features, such as <i>thir </i>and <i>tha(s) </i>as the plural of the demonstratives, -<i>s </i>as the inflexion for 3sg. present indicative and present indicative plural, <i>ar, er </i>as the forms for the present indicative plural of <i>be</i>, etc. However, the analysis of early and late Middle English texts and the linguistic profiles in <i>LALME </i>reveals a much more complex picture: more variants have been found than those which have been regarded as typically Northern, and in some cases their distribution seems to depend on the geographical area and the type of text.


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