Any discussion about the English language and literature remains incomplete without mentioning Geoffrey Chaucer’s achievements and contributions. The pioneering poet is still standing as the mighty contributor to the English language. Experts believe that he transformed a dialect into a language. A discourse can unlock this truth more accurately.
To begin with, a very brief close look at the history of the English language is necessary that consists of three periods. The first one is the Anglo-Saxon period. People also identify it as the “Old English period.” It existed between the 7th century and 11th century. Next is the “Middle English period” that settled up to the middle of the eventful 15th century. And from here onwards, it is the journey of the “New English period,” far better identifiable as the Modern English period.
Importantly, Chaucer’s journey as a poet and author began during the ending part of the “Middle English period.” Experts call it a transition stage. Yes, a phase, which witnessed the ending of Old English and the advent of New English. And the significant part is the great English poet started penning his masterpieces during this transformation phase. Most literary experts opine that the modern period of the English language and literature started off with Chaucer’s works.
During the beginning days of Chaucer’s age, four dialects, Southern, Midland, Northumbrian, and Kentish, were the lifeline of peoples’ interaction and expression in England. And, as an English man, Geoffrey Chaucer used the East Midland dialect as the medium of speaking and writing. The notable fact is due to geographical and political reasons, this dialect emerged later as the “literary language of England.”
However, the said official recognition could not be possible without Geoffrey Chaucer’s contribution. His famous poetic inventions played an essential role in registering the medium as the ultimate “literary standard.” His popularity as a poet and affection towards his poetical works was so high throughout England that people didn’t hesitate to recommend the great author’s medium as the literary language of the country.
Any comparison with his predecessors and contemporaries reveals that Chaucer’s English is lucid due to the modern touch. One big reason behind this difference is most of these authors, including contemporaries, used different dialects. Their way of expression was very hard. On the other hand, the great English poet chose a more acceptable form of voicing with easy articulation. A fair comparison between the works of Geoffrey Chaucer and William Langland could unlock this difference easily. In short, one of Chaucer’s most outstanding achievements is readers’ fluency in studying his works without any special grammatical aid or helping hand, like the glossary.
As one of the greatest English poets, it is nearly impossible to criticize Geoffrey Chaucer’s achievements and contributions. Yet, some critics are still ready to find faults in this renowned author. Their analyses say the English language is not pure anymore. They accuse the author of mixing French words in it.
Analysts or Critics accuse Chaucer of snatching away the English language’s purity by mixing foreign words in it. Nonetheless, one truth is the eminent poet was a genuine follower of the Midland English, which was “the speech of his day.” Also, it is indeed true that he learned a lot from several eminent French writers like Grandson, Froissart, and Machaut. But it was a part of his training to make his native language refined, distilled, and polished. That means he obtained inspiration from the rich and flourishing language of France but maintained the unique individuality of the language of England.
He never followed the retrograde flow. His priority was to build a powerful medium of conversation and writing. And he succeeded in it with a union of two rich languages of Europe. In a word, the blend of French reality and English verse explored a solid material strength with inevitable suppleness in writing and freedom in expression.
Due to this timely blending, the richness is still so prominent that none of the living languages on earth can compete with this language. It is, no doubt, a significant contribution by Chaucer. But his actual achievement includes getting recognition as the “restorer of English language.”
Yes, a contrast between William Langland and Chaucer unfolds this fact. Langland used an enormous amount of Latin and French origin words in his writings compared to Geoffrey Chaucer. Moreover, the greatest English poet had successfully Europeanized the English language and made it the lifeblood of core culture in Europe. He even destroyed French dominance. There is no denying that the basis of the eminent poet’s creations is English. And, it is his sole contribution that has made the language a symbol of freedom, grace, and accomplishment.
Chaucer is probably the first author in England who possessed the most lucid, accessible, and unrestricted style of expression. The originality and charming sense of articulation captivate the readers even in the present time.
It is a reality that modern readers and writers are fond of poets like William Wordsworth and John Dryden. The reason behind this affection is these famous poets’ originality in sketching their modern verses. Their quality of depiction is still unquestionably appealing.
However, some unuttered uniqueness in the Chaucerian simplicity eludes these geniuses’ process of modernizing. Even today, it seems charming to study the inventions of “the father of English poetry” in his idioms and expressions since these creations are easy to embrace. Furthermore, the expansion of Chaucer’s English exceeds the boundary of bookish words. It has all the qualities of living speech as if it is the language of a good society.
His style of expression is natural and straightforward. It is free from any blurriness and pretension, or artificiality. Without any doubt, it is as easy as effortless. From every aspect, his words appear as the “words of everyday life.” In addition, his sentences are apt with perfect length and simple structure. And, no awkward or unpleasant antithesis is visible in them. Even Chaucerian creativity doesn’t encourage any unnecessary vanity and exhausting allegories.
Studying Chaucer’s works unfolds a feeling of enjoying the charming, amusing, and civilized conversation of a modern, realistic cultural person who is a poet and admirer of literature. The said affection towards literature, language, and arts helped build his current identity as one of the greatest authors on earth. And this recognition shows why Geoffrey Chaucer’s achievements and contributions to the English language are still incomparable.
His way of choosing the perfect words in the right context and never delivering a word more describes why Chaucer’s style reflects the actual meaning of perfection. A flawless and ideal dispersal of thoughts through accurate words brings elegance to Chaucerian creativity. In a word, perfection bathed with simplicity and naturalness is the signature style of Geoffrey Chaucer.