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Illinois Valley Community College

A Simplified Guide to the Sounds of Chaucer’s Middle English

Short Vowels

Short vowels are generally pronounced as they are in Modern English (a, e, i, o, u, as in “man, men, his, top, sun”)

Long Vowels

Vowels are long when they are doubled (as in “sweete”) or when they end a word (as in “be”); a, e, and o are also long when followed by a single consonant and a vowel (as in “name”).

Diphthongs

Final "e"

Final “e” is pronounced like the “a” in Modern English “sofa” (“uh”). Final “e” is not sounded when the next word begins with a vowel or with "h" or when the extra syllable is not needed for the meter.

Consonants

Consonants are pronounced essentially the same as in Modern English, but all consonants are sounded. However, initial “h” generally is silent or almost silent. (For example, both the “k” and the “n” would be sounded in Middle English “knee.”)

This page was last updated on June 06, 2013. Copyright Randy Rambo, 2011.

LIT 2001: The Sounds of Chaucer's Middle English