The Canterbury Tales: The Reeve's Tale
by Geoffrey Chaucer
The Canterbury Tales: The Reeve's Tale Language and Communication Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Line). We used the line numbering found on Librarius's online edition.
'And forthy is I come, and eek Alayn,
To grynde oure corn and carie it ham agayn;
I pray yow spede us heythen that ye may.'
(177 – 179)
More northernisms here: again, John replaces the o's in words with a's, so that the word for home becomes "ham." The word "heythen," for however also marks John's speech as northern because it is a word of Scandinavian origin. Since the north of England was closer to the Scandinavian countries, its English had more contact with Scandinavian languages and so borrowed many words from them.
'By God, right by the hopur wil I stande,'
Quod John, 'and se howgates the corn gas in.
Yet saugh I nevere, by my fader kyn,
how that the hopur wagges til and fra.'
(182 – 185)
At this point we probably don't need to mention all of the o's that have been replaced with a's, but we will anyway: goes becomes "gas," fro becomes "fra." Another northernism here is the inclusion of an –e in the third person singular form of the verb "to wag": in the northern dialect it becomes "wagges" instead of "wags."
Aleyn answerde, 'John and wiltow swa?
Thanne I wil be bynethe, by my croun,
And se how that the mele falles doun
Into the trough; that sal be my disport.
For John, y-faith, I may been of youre sort;
I is as ille a millere as ar ye.'
(186 – 191)
Another northernism: Aleyn uses "sal" for "shall," replacing the "sh" sound with a simple "s." It's interesting that in this exchange, the clerks emphasize how they are alien to the miller's world, having never before watched corn being ground, at the same time as their speech emphasizes their northern origin, which also separates them from the miller.