English 10A



Tuesday, July 01, 2003


Professor Allen, in his discussion about the Canterbury pilgrimage, referred to the medieval fondness for pilgrimages, especially to that most famous of pilgrimage destinations, St. James/Santiago Compostella, in Spain. El Camino Compostela is still a popular route for tourists on pilgrimage today, just as Canterbury is.

For Chaucer's pilgrims, following this route from London to Canterbury, a large part of the reason for the pilgrimage was to visit the shrine of the martyr Thomas à Beckett, the Archbiship of Canterbury murdered in a chapel of Canterbury Cathedral. You might be familiar with his story in the film version, but you can read an eye-witness account here.

Chaucerian Sounds

There's more stuff about Chaucer on the web than you really could possibly use, and a lot of it is, well, pretty bad. But you can't go wrong with Larry Benson's site. The easiest way to learn to read Chaucer's English is to read it aloud. This can be a lot of fun if you get a group of friends together, some beer or coffee or what have you, and take turns reading out loud. You'll find some useful tips about Middle English pronunciation here.

Listening to someone else read while you look at the text helps a lot too. You can hear the opening of the General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales read in Middle English here. This page requires the free QuickTime plug-in and was based on a reading by Jane Zatta , obtained from http://www.siue.edu/CHAUCER/prol.html. And there's a short excerpt of The Miller's portrait from the General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales read in Middle English. This page requires QuickTime; the audio is based on a reading by Alfred David, Indiana University, obtained from http://web.wwnorton.com/nael-audio/miller.wav.

The Huntington Library, in nearby San Marino, owns the Ellesmere Chaucer. This is one of the two "best" manuscripts we have of Canterbury Tales, and it's especially famous for the portraits of the pilgrims that begin each tale. You can see the beginning of the Wife of Bath's tale here, with her portrait. The manuscript is dated c. 1400, around the time of Chaucer's death.

The second most famous Canterbury Tales manuscript is in the National Library of Wales, the Hengwrt Chaucer. The are a number of others, in other places.

Monday, June 30, 2003

Using the OED off-campus

If you are not using Bruin On Line (BOL) to dial up UCLA, and are not on campus, but are using your own ISP (AOL, Earthlink, Compuserve, etc.) for Internet access, you will neet to set your web browser to use UCLA's "Proxy Server." This means you will be asked to identify yourself as a UCLA person, by entering your Bruin Online ID (the part before the @ucla.edu) and Bruin Online Password (in other words, the same information you use to log in to My.UCLA.edu).

Go here, and follow the steps. If you have problems, email me, and I'll try to help. The most common problem is that when you copied the settings from the web page with instructions, you inadvertantly also copied a space before or after the proxy server information.

Friday, June 27, 2003


Now that you've heard some Old English, you might want to see some Anglo-Saxon artifacts. Sutton Hoo was the site of a ship-burial, containing a long ship, and filled with all that the deceased Anglo-Saxon king might need in the after life. You can see the artifacts here.

The Battle of Maldon

About Maldon

The Battle of Maldon is both an Old English poem, and an actual battle in 991, listed in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Though the poem is a literary depiction, there are a number of details that can be historically documented. According the Chronicles:

"Here in this year Olaf came with ninety-three ships to Folkestone, and raided round about it, and then went from there to Sandwich, and so from there to Ipswich, and overran all that, and so to Maldon. And Ealdorman Byrhtnoth came against them there with his army and fought with them; and they killed the ealdorman there and had possession of the place of slaughter."
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (Winchester MS)
This site is a good source for background information about the battle of Maldon, including maps and pictures of the battle site.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

The Germanic Invaders

The Germanic tribes who settled England are traditionally described as the Angles, the Saxons, and the Jutes. You can see an animated map of their migration and settlement patterns here. They each spoke slightly different Germanic dialects. Eventually, the various parts of England became dominated by particular dialects of Old English, with West Saxon the one that is best represented in the Old English or Anglo-Saxon manuscripts. This map shows what Britain looked like before the Normans.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Old English and Tacitus

Professor Allen discussed the relationship between English and the Indo-European family of languages yesterday. We'll start this week with poems written in Old English, or Anglo-Saxon, but that have been translated into Modern English. You can hear a bit of Beowulf read in Old English here, (you'll need the free QuickTime movie software) and see what the actual manuscript looks like.

On Monday, Professor Allen also mentioned Tacitus' Germania. Tacitus lived from about 54 A. D. and died sometime after 117. If you're curious, you can read extracts from Germania here in English, and or in the original Latin.