A Londoner's Chronicle: Dialect Features In Henry Machyn's Journal

2521 words - 10 pages

A Londoner's Chronicle: Dialect Features in Henry Machyn's JournalElize den HollanderS1117432Philology 6: Early Modern EnglishEssay AssignmentProf.dr. I.M. Tieken-Boon van OstadeLeiden University19 May 2014IntroductionThe Early Modern Period lasted from approximate 1500-1700 in England. These were the ages that journal writing flourished in England. Cusack's definition of a journal seems to be most accurate: 'Journals commit to paper the events of a day. They are private documents, aiming at no reader other than oneself at some future time, looking back to review past events and experiences.' (Cusack, 1998:158) The journal I will look at in this essay is Henry Machyn's journal.Machyn was a man from the middle class. This means that he would not have had formal education, as writers from a higher social standing would have had. His spelling is incorrect and inconsequent and if you look at it from a grammarian point of view one can only conclude that he is a poor writer; even his editor Nichols thought so. As stated in Mortimer's article Nichols declared that Machyn himself was of 'no great scholarship or attainments, as his language and cacography plainly testify, sufficiently prejudiced, and not capable of any deep views either of religious doctrine or temporal policy.' (2002:982) But his 'bad' spelling does reveal something of importance. Because he did not have an education he would not have known the conventional way to spell words, so he would have written the words in a way that matched his pronunciation. There are no sources that tell how words were pronounced in the Early Modern Period, but because of uneducated writers like Machyn it is possible to have a rough idea.Novels and chronicles written by high established authors or historians contain only the view of upper class citizens or in case of the chronicles only 'factual' statements on historical events. Authors needed to be from a slightly better standing, because it was difficult to support yourself with only writing to provide for your livelihood. Machyn wrote a journal, for himself, which results in the fact that he did not have a patron who controlled what he wrote. It is because Machyn belongs to the middle class that his views can be used to create an idea of how the common man looked at the major historical or religious events of that day. It is likely that many of his fellow middle class citizens would share his views and sentiments. Although Machyn does not share his personal view visibly by stating what he thinks. He did record that he slandered a protestant preacher. It is only by such actions that it is possible to have an idea of his views and beliefs.BackgroundMachyn's journal is the only way that he himself is known to us today. There are no other direct sources that can reveal anything of the background and life of him. According to the first editor of the text Nichols Machyn was a Londoner, of the parish of Trinity the Little. (Cusack, 1998:170) According to Mortimer...

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