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February 11, 2020 § 8 Comments
My phone blew up last week, which is to say I got three text messages over a period of four days. And! They were all about the same thing!
The “thing” was the release of the new Chaucer app, a little program that recites the General Prologue in Middle English, and provides extensive notes about the vocabulary and about the historical background of various characters. Somehow, people knew I was interested in Chaucer. Weird.
My first reaction to the app was that it doesn’t work. There is no way for me to actually hear the recitation, no matter how I fiddle with the volume or slam the device onto the edge of the desk, hard. “It’s like it was designed by a 10-year-old,” I fumed, before realizing that if it had been designed by a 10-year-old it would have worked flawlessly.
Instead it was designed by medievalists. I’m not sure that coding was in the curriculum back in those days, wedged in between Latin and Greek. In any event, the app’s most important feature doesn’t work, at least on my phone, which is the only one I care about. Your results may hopefully vary.
But broken app? So what?
The pointe is this, to speken shorte and pleyne, that someone has tried to take Chaucer and yank him out of the ivory tower and put him in the hands of the average swenker. Is that a good thing? Yes, a thousand times, yes!
If the app had worked properly, it would have followed along in the text of the general prologue with the recitation, so you could hear how the text was supposed to be pronounced in Middle English. Of course I say “supposed to be” because, as with virtually all dead languages, there is only a rough approximation of how Middle English really sounded.
Maybe you can download it and it will work for you. The notes are chock-full of interesting tidbits, and give you a sense of how dense Chaucer’s writing was. Most of all, hopefully it will make you want to read more.
Audio and text come thru.
Running on a Samsung Note 10+, Android 10.
Is the audio supposed to be in a thick Brooklyn accent?
goodness…eech of em are a worthy man…I’m learning…but, i’m not quite sure what…
Seem to be many Chaucer quotations that would be apt to be ringing in your ears as the breakaway heads for the domes…. Now you can listen to a compilation in middle english.
Yes, such as “Thanne hadde I been in blisse and nat in wo.”
Depending on how important this is to you, you could go to a cell phone repair shop. They usually have used phones for sale, and they usually have the best street-level knowledge of phones. Take your phone and show them the problem, then ask what they have that would work for this app.
So you’re saying my hammer is the wrong tool?