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It’s true: Its truth



Apparently Chaucer didn’t use the word its in The Canterbury Tales or perhaps any of his writing. He uses his for its in the opening line of The Prologue:

Whan that April with his shoures soote {1}

There are any number of wonderful websites on Chaucer, including the Harvard University Geoffrey Chaucer, but so far I have not found a mention of why no its. It’s a mystery! However, pages such as this English Language in the Fourteenth Century: The Status of English are fascinating.

We can learn where and how and why Chaucer used fart {2}, but not its. It’s a bit frustrating to find its not mentioned. One expects to be able to find an instant answer to anything nowadays but there just isn’t one on its. Perhaps if a Chaucer expert comes across this post while idly checking for mentions of his or her own work in Google, or other reputable search engines, he or she will pass on the story of itslessness.

Presumably it’s not just Chaucer but everyone who had no its, so it will be a general story about the development of English with particular reference to its.

The Historical variability of English

Introduction to “The General Prologue” of The Canterbury Tales

This a lecture given by Ian Johnston which covers an awful ot of ground and is also interesting

The Making of Chaucer’s English: A Study of Words [1998] By Christopher Cannon

A Google Book, and therefore not completely transcribed, but there is enough there to get the idea. Don’t forget the text is searchable through the Google ‘Search in this book’ feature on the bottom right. The page may need to be scrolled down a bit.

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Ian Johnson’s home page is full of lecture and essays on all sorts which also look….very interesting.

This one written in 1998, The Illogic of a Creationist Argument, I noted, noting particularly how he has come to the nub so clearly that even Richard Dawkins might learn something from it. It might give a clue as to how well he does on other themes, including many literary and philosophical one’s he covers.

Equally readable, a lecture to biology students, Some Non-Scientific Observations on the Importance of Darwin [1998] Ian Johnston, Liberal Studies Department, Malaspina-University College, Nanaimo, BC.

 

All for the want of a horse shoe nail…..



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February 2, 2008 Posted by | Biology, Chaucer, English language, evolutionary biology, science | , , , | Leave a comment