Old and Middle English

Rudolph Willard was best known as a scholar of medieval English, having achieved significant attention for transcribing the Blickling Homilies, a book of sermons in Old English that also served as a record-keeping book for the village of Blickling in Norfolk, England. The book was significant not just because of the homilies themselves, but due to the detailed notes on civil life written in its margins, which present a glimpse into the concerns of the everyday people of Blickling. Elsewhere in this collection, Willard and education graduate student Dewitt Talmadge Oaks confirm that one of the most important benefits they personally derived from their study of ancient languages was an appreciation for the lives of their speakers:

Oaks: [on learning Greek] It did this one thing, I feel: It caused me to realize that the Greek people really exist and lived as we live today, and they had ideals and principles and concepts just as we have in this modern time.

Willard: That after all is one of the great things you get out of another language.

Oaks: That's true.

Willard: One thing that was said of Professor Cook at Yale was that he never forgot that the Old English really were people and not grammatical subjects.

Oaks: Well, it’s a, be important this day and time if a lot of we people could think of human beings as human beings.

Willard: Yes, wouldn’t it, not political entities.

Oaks' and Willard's point of view is as relevant today as it was then. In these files, we get a brief chance to hear medieval English speech come alive one more time.

Available Files

Creator: Rudolph Willard

Old English Speaker: Rudolph Willard

Middle English Speakers: Carleton Brown, Willet Titus Conklin, Miss Hufford, Ernest William Talbert, Rudolph Willard, Unknown

Old English

Speaker: Rudolph Willard

TELL ID: 0086, 0087, 0482

Description: [0086] Rudolph Willard reads "The Lord's Prayer" with a short introduction.

[0087] Rudolph Willard reads "The Lord's Prayer."

[0482] Rudolph Willard reads "The Lord's Prayer" in West Saxon, "Caedmon's Hymn" in Northumbrian, and a selection from "Beowulf."

Date: [0086-0087] Unknown

[0482] March 31, 1950

Language: Old English

Dialectal Influences: Sofia, Bulgaria

Oberlin, Lorain County, Ohio

Coldspring, San Jacinto County, Texas

New Haven, New Haven County, Connecticut

France

Wellesley, Norfolk County, Massachusetts

Austin, Travis County, Texas

Sex: Male

Age: [0086-0087] Unknown

[0482] 57

Race: White

Education: College, Graduate school

Occupations: Salesman; Teacher; Principal; Superintendent; Assistant Professor of English, Yale University; Visiting Professor of English, Wellesley College; Professor of English, University of Texas at Austin

Original Recording Location: [0086-0087] Box 2, Disc 17, Side 2, Tracks 1-2

[0482] Box 9, Disc 19, Side 1

Additional Files with Duplicate Content: 0256 is a duplicate of 0482. To hear this file, please contact TELL.

Middle English

Speaker: Carleton Brown

TELL ID: 0251, 0252, 0253, 0254, 0255, 0273, 0320, 0321, 0322, 0323

Description: [0251] Carleton Brown reads "Christ Makeþ to Man a Fair Present."

[0252] Carleton Brown reads "Steddefast Crosse."

[0253] Carleton Brown reads "Bydde Good Men."

[0254] Carleton Brown reads "Lovely Ter of Lovely Eye."

[0255] Carleton Brown reads "Al Oþer Loue is Lych þe Mone."

[0273] Carleton Brown reads "Mon in þe Mone."

[0320] Carleton Brown reads "Heil Sterre of þe See So Briht."

[0321] Carleton Brown reads "White Was His Nakid Brest."

[0322] Carleton Brown reads "Louerd, þu Clepedest Me."

[0333] Carleton Brown reads "Holy Moder, þat Bere Cryst, Buggere of Monkunde."

Date: November 12, 1940

Language: Middle English

Dialectal Influences: Northfield, Dakota or Rice County, Minnesota

Montana

Cambridge, Middlesex County, Massachusetts

Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England

Bryn Mawr (Radnor, Haverfor, or Lower Merion Township), Delaware or Montgomery County, Pennsylvania

Minneapolis or Saint Paul, Hennepin or Ramsey County, Minnesota

Manhattan, New York County, New York

Sex: Male

Age: 71

Race: White

Education: College, Graduate school

Occupations: Pastor; Professor of English, Bryn Mawr College, University of Minnesota, and New York University

Original Recording Location: [0251 - 0255] Box 6, Disc 13

[0273] Box 6, Disc 22, Side 1

[0320 -0323] Box 7, Disc 11, Side 1

Additional Files with Duplicate Content: None

Speaker: Willet Titus Conklin

TELL ID: 0114

Description: Willet Titus Conklin reads a portion of "The Clerk's Tale" from Geoffrey Chaucer's "The Canterbury Tales."

Date: 1939

Language: Middle English

Dialectal Influences: Roslyn, Nassau County, New York

Ithaca, Tompkins County, New York

Austin, Travis County, Texas

Sex: Male

Age: 32-33

Race: Unknown

Education: College, Graduate school

Occupations: Associate Professor of English, University of Texas at Austin

Original Recording Location: Box 3, Disc 3, Side 2, Track 3

Additional Files with Duplicate Content: None

Speaker: Miss Hufford

TELL ID: 0128

Description: Miss Hufford reads a portion of "The Squire's Tale" from Geoffrey Chaucer's "The Canterbury Tales."

Date: 1939

Language: Middle English

Dialectal Influences: United States

Sex: Female

Age: Unknown

Race: Unknown

Education: College

Occupations: Unknown

Original Recording Location: Box 3, Disc 7, Side 2, Track 2

Additional Files with Duplicate Content: 0115 and 0130 (duplicates), 0129 (partial). To hear these files, please contact TELL.

Speaker: Ernest William Talbert

TELL ID: 0113

Description: Ernest William Talbert reads a portion of "The Wife of Bath's Prologue" from Geoffrey Chaucer's "The Canterbury Tales."

Date: 1939

Language: Middle English

Dialectal Influences: San Jose, Santa Clara County, California

Stanford, Santa Clara County, California

Compton, Los Angeles County, California

Moscow, Latah County, Idaho

Austin, Travis County, Texas

Sex: Male

Age: 29-30

Race: Unknown

Education: College, Graduate school

Occupations: Instructor of English, Compton District Junior College, University of Idaho, and University of Texas at Austin

Original Recording Location: Box 3, Disc 3, Side 2, Track 1

Additional Files with Duplicate Content: None

Speaker: Rudolph Willard

TELL ID: 0483

Description: Rudolph Willard reads a portion of the Prologue from Geoffrey Chaucer's "The Canterbury Tales" and Matthew 8: 1-17.

Date: March 31, 1950

Language: Middle English

Dialectal Influences: Sofia, Bulgaria

Oberlin, Lorain County, Ohio

Coldspring, San Jacinto County, Texas

New Haven, New Haven County, Connecticut

France

Wellesley, Norfolk County, Massachusetts

Austin, Travis County, Texas

Sex: Male

Age: 57

Race: White

Education: College, Graduate school

Occupations: Salesman; Teacher; Principal; Superintendent; Assistant Professor of English, Yale University; Visiting Professor of English, Wellesley College; Professor of English, University of Texas at Austin

Original Recording Location: Box 9, Disc 19, Side 2

Additional Files with Duplicate Content: 0257. To hear this file, please contact TELL.

Speaker: Unknown

TELL ID: 0125

Description: A male reads a portion of "The Clerk's Tale" from Geoffrey Chaucer's "The Canterbury Tales."

Date: 1939

Language: Middle English

Dialectal Influences: United States

Sex: Male

Age: Unknown

Race: Unknown

Education: College

Occupations: Unknown

Original Recording Location: Box 3, Disc 6, Side 2, Track 2

Additional Files with Duplicate Content: None

Sources:


Blickling homilies - Wikipedia. (2018). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blickling_homilies
The Canterbury Tales - Wikipedia. (2019). Retrieved from https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Canterbury_Tales
A Clerk of Oxford: 'All other love is like the moon.' (2013). Retrieved from https://aclerkofoxford.blogspot.com/2013/02/all-other-love-is-like-moon.html
A Clerk of Oxford: 'Steadfast Cross.' (2012). Retrieved from https://aclerkofoxford.blogspot.com/2012/09/steadfast-cross.html
Davies, R. T. (Ed.). (1964). Medieval English lyrics: A critical anthology. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.
Digital Index of Middle English Verse: No. 1754. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.dimev.net/record.php?recID=1754
Digital Index of Middle English Verse: No. 6540.5. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.dimev.net/record.php?recID=6540.5
Geoffrey Chaucer (1342-1400) - "The Canterbury Tales" (in middle english and modern english). (1997). Retrieved from http://www.librarius.com/index.html
Gray, D. (1972). Themes and images in the medieval English religious lyric. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.
Holloway, J. (1962, June). History in the homilies. The Alcalde, 7-9.
Jokinen, A. (2018). "Mon in the Mone" - The Man in the Moon (Middle English Lyric; Harley Lyrics). Retrieved from http://www.luminarium.org/medlit/medlyric/maninmoon.php
Kurath, H. (1975). Middle English dictionary, volume 5. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Image Credit: "The Blickling homilies of the tenth century - from the Marquis of Lothian's unique ms. A.D. 971 (1880) (14771448214)." Retrieved from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Blickling_homilies_of_the_tenth_century_- _from_the_Marquis_of_Lothian%27s_unique_ms._A.D._971_(1880)_(14771448214).jpg