Chapter

Trading Languages

Ardis Butterfield

in The Familiar Enemy

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780199574865
Published online February 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191722127 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199574865.003.0006
Trading Languages

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Takes us into the urban culture of London. It situates Chaucer's accounts of mercantile behaviour and speech – notably the Shipman's Tale and the portrait of the Merchant in his General Prologue as well as his Tale – within the busily multilingual world of city trade. London English, as evidence in the guild and other official records indicates, fought for recognition amongst other linguistic communities seeking power and influence in the city. Attention is given to the wider cultural and linguistic meaning attached to Flemish through the cross‐channel activities of merchants. Through tracing puns and other examples of cross‐linguistic influence, Chaucer's English is placed within the sometimes violently competitive multilingualisms of a fractured, intermittently cohesive urban community in which many forms of alliance between family, friend, mercenary, stranger, and foreigner were under pressure.

Keywords: merchants; medieval London; guilds; Chaucer; Shipman's Tale; Merchant's Tale; Flemish; multilingualism; stranger; alien; trade

Chapter.  16072 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Early and Medieval)

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