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In relation to the Conquest Burnley 2000 suggests that innovations linked to the birth of Middle English were only broadly related to the arrival of the Norman French He claims that in many instances dialect manuscripts of the period merely reveal that diversity and change was already occurring in Old English a result of the substantial linguistic influence of the Scandinavian invaders in the 9th and 10th centuries Furthermore Baugh and Cable 1993 observe that these changes were not only phonological but also grammatical and lexical However such changes did not all occur all at the same time but materialized over hundreds of years and at disparate rates in the different Middle English dialects see below Features of Middle English Burrows and Turville-Petre 1992 highlight three features which specifically distinguish Middle English from Old English The inflectional system was much simpler see Loss of Inflections particularly with regard to adjectives and nouns Relationships between words in a sentence relied more and more on prepositions and word order English vocabulary was progressively more heterogeneous That is to say whilst Old English was predominantly Germanic Middle English was a linguistic mixture of Scandinavian Latin and French Middle English Dialects The accepted dialect divisions of this new form of English see map equate approximately with those of Old English However Northumbrian is now designated Northern whilst Mercian is described in terms of either the East Midlands or West Midlands dialect The suggestion is that the majority of the inhabitants of Yorkshire would have spoken the Northern form but that West Riding speech would have belonged to the West Midlands group Barber 1993 adds that Northumbrian due in part to political division separated into northern English and the English of the Scots In relation to these dialects Baugh and Cable 1993 observe that diversity was not confined only to the spoken word Because there was no written standard people wrote in the dialect employed in their
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