Major English Writers 1
A Simplified Guide to the Sounds of Chaucers Middle English
Short vowels are generally pronounced as they are in Modern English (a, e, i, o, u, as in man, men, his, top, sun)
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).
- Long a is pronounced like the a in father. (For example, the first syllable of Middle English maken would sound like Modern English mock.)
- Long e is pronounced like the a in name. (For example, Middle English be sounds like Modern English bay.)
- Long i is pronounced like the i in machine. (For example, Middle English lif (life) sounds like Modern English leaf.)
- Long o is pronounced like the o in wrote. (For example, Middle English to sounds like Modern English toe.)
- Long u (spelled ou or ow) is pronounced like the oo in moose. (For example, Middle English hous (house) rhymes with Modern English moose.)
- ei, ey, and ay are pronounced like the ay in Modern English day.
- au and aw are pronounced like the ou in Modern English house.
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 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.)