Language variation and change from Old to Middle English *EDU*

Course Name

Language variation and change from Old to Middle English: The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles





Course date

semester 1 (2019 - 2020)

Registration open until

03/06/2019 -




Marcelle Cole (UU) & Janet Grijzenhout (UL)

E-mail Contact

Marcelle Cole

Course objectives

This course is suitable for students with an interest in the history of the English language, linguistics, medieval studies and teaching English spelling, pronunciation, and grammar. The course will provide students with:

  • a historical perspective on Modern English that will enable them to understand the idiosyncrasies of Modern English
  • a good grasp of how the grammatical system of earlier stages of English functioned and changed over time to become the language that it is today
  • an understanding of the effect of language contact on Modern English
    knowledge of the emergence of spelling norms that gave us our modern-day norm

By the end of the course, students will be able to usefully apply a historical perspective to their own teaching of the English language. They will also be in an ideal position to prepare and write an MA paper that contributes to current debates in the field.

Course content

The early medieval scribes that wrote the Anglo Saxon Chronicles (ASC) over a period of 250 years did so with the aim of recording historical events for prosperity. Little did they know that their efforts were also to provide us with a record of the changing face of the English language at a crucial moment in its history. One of the versions of the ASC, the Peterborough Chronicle, records an exciting transitional moment between Old and Middle English. English was beginning to lose much of the inflectional system of Old English and to show the effects of contact with Scandinavian and French settlers in the British Isles. The Peterborough Chronicle is also the earliest extensive example of East Midlands, the ancestor dialect of standard modern English and is thus a crucial text for the student of English language.


Assignments (assignments and in-class presentations) 45%

Essay (individual paper of 2500-3000 words) 55%

Study load

5 ECTS (= 140 hours)
Seminars: 7 x 3 = 21 hrs
Preparation and work per week 7 x 5 = 35 hrs
Assignments 6 x 4 = 24 hrs
Individual paper = 60 hrs

Students who need 6 ECTS may elect to do an extra assignment. This must be determined with your lecturer in week 1.

Background Literature and Course Materials

To be announced. Primary and secondary literature will be provided by the instructors.

Further information

Course schedule

Friday November 15, 14:00 – 17:00

Friday November 22, 14:00 – 17:00

Friday November 29, 14:00 – 17:00

Friday December 6, 14:00 – 17:00

Friday December 13, 14:00 – 17:00

Friday December 20, 14:00 – 17:00

Friday January 10, 14:00 – 17:00


Students are highly recommended to also take the Masterlanguage course ‘Current Debates in Medieval English Literature: The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ (semester II, block 1) for 5 EC.