History of the English Language

Early Modern English

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We refer to the years 1500-1700 as the Early Modern English period (EModE). During this time, there began to be a standardization of printed language due to the arrival of the printing press in England in 1475. During this time, spelling and grammar became more fixed, and written text was much more accessible.

To learn about the history of the Early Modern English period and to begin to understand some of the key literary patterns of the time period, study the following website:
        http://mockingbird.creighton.edu/english/worldlit/teaching/upperdiv/emodeng1.htm

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The Great Vowel Shift
Over the course of hundreds of years, there was a change in the way people pronounced vowels. To understand how and why this shift occured, go to the following websites. It might also be helpful to check out the IPA links on the Additional Links tab from this site in order to have a better understanding of what these phonetic symbols mean.
        http://eweb.furman.edu/~mmenzer/gvs/what.htm
        http://courses.fas.harvard.edu/~chaucer/vowels.html

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Have you ever thought that Shakespeare must have written during the Old English time period or in a foreign language? Actually, he wrote during the Early Modern English period. He is one of the most famous dramatic writers and poets still today.  Take a few minutes to browse some of his works.
    http://rp-www.cs.usyd.edu.au/~matty/Shakespeare/


Still want to learn more? Go to http://www.luminarium.org/renascence-editions/ren.htm to browse even more texts from the EModE time period.

Have a good grasp of the Early Modern English period?
Learn about Present Day English