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Early English Alliterative Poems
in the West-Midland Dialect of the Fourteenth Century

written by "Morris, Richard, 1833-1894"
... of a broad pronunciation which, at the present time, is said to be a characteristic of the northwestern division of Lancashire, but I think that there is good evidence for asserting that this strong provincialism was not confined, formerly, to the West-Midland dialect, much less to a division of any particular county. We find traces of it in Audelay’s Poems (Shropshire), the Romance of William and the Werwolf,35 and even in the Wickliffite version of the Scriptures. Formerly, being influenced by these broad forms, I was led to select Cheshire or Staffordshire as the probable locality where the poems were written; but I do not, now, think that either of these counties ever employed a vocabulary containing so many Norse terms as are to be found in the Lancashire dialect. But although we may not be able to fix, with certainty, xxv upon any one county in particular, the fact of the present poems being composed in the West-Midland dialect cannot be denied. Much may be said in favour of their Lancashire origin, and there are one or two points of resemblance between our poems, the Lancashire Romances, and Liber Cure Cocorum, that deserve especial notice. I. In Sir Amadace,36 lxviii. 9, there occurs the curious form miȝtus = miȝtes = mightst.37 As it appears only once throughout the Romances we might conclude that it is an error of the scribe for miȝtest, but when we find in the poems before us not only myȝteȝ = myȝtes (mightst), but woldeȝ = woldes (wouldst), coutheȝ = couthes (couldst), dippteȝ (dippedest), travayledeȝ (travelledst), etc., we are bound to consider miȝtus as a genuine form.38 In no other Early English works of the fourteenth century have I been able to find this peculiarity. It is very common in the Wohunge of Ure Lauerd (xiiith cent.). See O.E. Homilies, p. 51. The Northumbrian dialect at this period rejected the inflexion in the second person preterite singular, of regular verbs,39 and in our poem...

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