Part 3, question 8

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Part 3, question 8

Post  Nadeau on Tue Mar 29, 2011 4:58 pm

Who was William Caxton? What did he do? And what was the impact he had on the English language?

-William Caxton had an impact on the change from the early modern English to the Middle English. He was the one who brought the printing press. Overall, the impact was pretty important because he was the one who brought the hand written book to real books. Read the following passage from It’s A Long Story and you will be able to understand what he did.

The changes that had occurred in Middle English could be attributed to a number of different causes. One event that had a great impact on the English language and on many other languages as well was the development of the printing press. William Caxton brought the printing press to England in 1476 and with it came the beginning of mass production of books. Before the development of the printing press, books were hand written and then hand copied by scribes. As you can well imagine, this was a very labour-intensive way of producing books which resulted in written materials being scarce and expensive. The printing press opened the door to relatively inexpensive multiple copies of all sorts of written materials. For the first time in English history the written word became accessible to more than the

The printing press proved to be the solution to many problems, but it also raised a few of its own. Before 1500 spelling had been erratic at best. People tried to spell words pretty much as they pronounced them. This would have been fine had everyone pronounced words the same way, but, as you know, English was more a collection of loosely linked dialects than a single uniform language. When everybody got through spelling words as they pronounced them, the result was a horrendous orthographic hodgepodge. One and the same word could be spelled in many different ways, sometimes even by a single author. When the printing press arrived in England, those using it had to decide how words were to be spelled. Since printed materials were intended for a large number of people speaking different regional dialects of English, the need arose for some sort of convention to determine the orthography of words for the entire country. In other words, English had to become less regional and more of a national language. In response to the need to have a national standard, a number of books were written that attempted to lay down guidelines for spelling and grammar. Printers sometimes followed these guidelines, but not always. Frequently they succumbed to the temptation to change the spelling of a word to make it fit on a line. In the early stages of Early Modern English spelling was understandably variable, but as time went by the variability decreased and the idea of having a national standard or norm slowly took hold.


Reference:

It’s A long Story


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Re: Part 3, question 8

Post  Bi on Thu Mar 31, 2011 10:55 am

Cool Who was William Caxton? What did he do? And what was the impact he had on the English language.
GRADDOL, David, Leith, Swam, 1996, English, History, Diversity and Change, Routelege, page 319-141.
• Invented the printing press and introduced it to britain.
• Played a crucial role in the development of standard English.
• Helped people familiarise with the various dialects.
• Caxton effectively accomplished the first stage of standardization by selecting on variety (midland english)
• Allowed identical material be read by people accross the territory simultneously.
BRAGG, Melvyn, 2003, The Adventure of English, 500 AD – 2000 The Biography of a Language, Hodder& Stoughton p102-103.
• Born in Kent 1420 approximately.
• Printing press in service in 1476
• 1462 appointed governor of the English Trading Company
• Man of Learning + Merchant
• First book printed in English = Historyes of Troye.
Caxton had an influence on the language because it became standardized and he allowed people accross the land to be reading the same manuscript at the same time.

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Nadeau + Bernard

Post  Bi on Thu Mar 31, 2011 11:17 am

Caxton introduced the printing press to Britain in 1476.
By 1500 more than 35,000 books had been printed (most in Latin)
by 1640 - 20,000 titles available in English
Hand an impact on uniformity and literacy of the language (standardised spelling)
indirect impact on the differences of dialects


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Re: Part 3, question 8

Post  mavezina on Sun Apr 03, 2011 11:41 am

Cool WHO WAS WILLIAM CAXTON? WHAT DID HE DO? AND WHAT WAS THE IMPACT HE HAD ON THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE? M-A, LYNN

Caxton was born in around 1422 in Kent. He went to London at the age of 16 to become an apprentice to a merchant, later moving to Bruges, the centre of the wool trade, where he became a successful and important member of the merchant community. From 1462 to 1470 he served as governor of the 'English Nation of Merchant Adventurers', which allowed him to represent his fellow merchants, as well as act as a diplomat for the king.

Caxton affiliated himself with the household of Margaret, the duchess of Burgundy, sister of the English king Edward IV. She became one of his most important patrons and encouraged him with his translation of 'The Recuyell of the Histories of Troye' from French to English. In the early 1470s Caxton spent time in Cologne learning the art of printing. He returned to Bruges in 1472 where he and Colard Mansion, a Flemish calligrapher, set up a press. Caxton's own translation of 'The Recuyell of the Histories of Troye' was the first book printed in the English language.

In 1476 Caxton returned to London and established a press at Westminster, the first printing press in England. Amongst the books he printed were Chaucer's 'Canterbury Tales', Gower's 'Confession Amantis' and Malory's 'Le Morte d'Arthur'. He printed more than 100 books in his lifetime, books which were known for their craftsmanship and careful editing. He was also the translator of many of the books he published, using his knowledge of French, Latin and Dutch. He died in 1492.

One source of anxiety about the linguistic situation of England was removed when Henry, the greatest of all gentlemen, embraced the writing of English. Other concerns, however, remained. When the first English printer, William Caxton, lamented the diachronic instability of the language of his country, he was concern about the brode and rude nature of his beloved language.

Many histories on languages differentiate between external and internal approaches to the transition from middle to early modern English. Internal history may be defined as the study of evolving systems of lexicon grammar and transmission (speech and writing systems) whereas external history is to do with the ways in which a language is employed over time, for example the shift from script to print, or how particular languages are associated with particular social function at particular moments. Such a distinction is in many ways useful and is, adopted in this chapter. 115 oxford

However, it is important to realize that this strict separation of internal and external history is a matter of operational scholarly convenience rather than actual fact. Just as living creatures evolves, languages evolve.

If a particular language or language variety has a number of functions we may consider it to be elaborated. Elaboration of usage is one of four stages in the process of standardization of the language. Other being selection, codification and acceptance. It is by means of this process that a particular variety or language is selected for overtly prestigious use, either consciously or unconsciously; it is codified through the enforcement of norms (education); It is elaborated in function and it is accepted by the community as being the elite language usage.121 oxford

Such high style writing found successor elsewhere in literary use, notably in the so-called trailing style which is characteristic of Caxton’s own prose (as opposed to some of his editions of other authors). A well-known example is from the preface to Caxton’s edition of Sir Thomas Malory’s cycle of Arthurian texts (1485). 131 oxford

Caxton is here restrained in his use of French derived vocabulary, but his syntactic choice, with its lengthy subordinate clauses, clearly reflects the kinds of structure seems in the Guildhall letter.

Caxton’s success as a printer depended on his linking of supply and demand; if there had been no demand for the books he printed, then Caxton, a shrewd businessman would not have produced them. It is possible to reconstruct where this demand came from: rising folk, aspiring to elite status, who were most as home in the vernacular. The Paston’s were such people. Their enemies could think of no more cutting insult than to describe them as “churls” for their origins seem to have been humble.

Sir John Paston II, an important member of the Paston family. They encapsulate the processes involved in the elaboration of English during the 15th For them, and for people like them, English had achieved- or perhaps more accurately, was achieving- a dignity which made it available for almost every kind of use, both literary and non-literary; and this functional change had clear implications for the formal development of English in term of written standardization and lexical augmentation. Moreover, it is worth pointing out that there is a profound connection between this development and the historical and social development of the 16th century in which vernacular literacy played so important role; the English reformation, and the rise of Elizabethan age.

The changes that had occurred in Middle English could be attributed to a number of different causes. One event that had a great impact on the English language and on many other languages was the development of the printing press. William Caxton brought the printing press to England in 1476 and with it came the mass production of books. Before that, scribes were writing books. For the first time, in English history the books were available to everyone. Because people were able to read, conducting business was made more efficiently. 106LS

Whatever the motivation, at the beginning f the renaissance, as the period from 1500 to 1650 is known, quite a number of people in the middle and upper classes were literate and writing was becoming an important way to communicate. People tried to spell words as they pronounced them. This would have been fine if everyone pronounced in the same way, but it was not the case. English was rather a collection of languages rather than a single unified language. 107 LS

When the printing press arrived in England, those using it had to decide how words werer going to be spelled. The case arose for some convention about the orthography of words for the entire country. Frequently printer felt important to add their own spelling.

Grammar was not implied, and grammar is a mean to make sure than spelling and words are respected. Thus, leading to new rules, modification of rules, and modification of letters...there was the Great Vowel Shift. 108 LS


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