This English-French phrase book gives us a glimpse of everyday English expressions of the 15th century. It was probably intended as a guide for merchants who traded with France, equipping the reader with a set of common colloquial phrases. Several phrases, though familiar, sound distinctly old-fashioned, such as ‘Sir god spede you and Sir howe fare ye’. Others may seem quaint, but hint at current expressions. ‘Sir god gyue you good day’ is not unlike ‘have a nice day’ in present-day American English. ‘Right wele’ is still used in the north of England in response to someone asking after our health.
- Article by:
- David Crystal
- Language and voice
David Crystal explains how Middle English developed from Old English, changing its grammar, pronunciation and spelling and borrowing words from French and Latin.