Denise Ming-yueh Wang: Chaucer’s English and Multilingualism,  pages 1 ~ 27


What is Chaucer’s English? In this paper, I talk about Chaucer’s Englishinheritance from my Taiwanese-Chinese point of view. How is Chaucer doingin non-English speaking countries? When the local Chaucer goes global, whatcan we do about his English? The first part of my paper is aboutmultilingualism in Chinese and medieval English culture. The second part givesa brief account of the cultural situation of Chaucer’s life in fourteenth-centuryEngland, using it as a preliminary structural paradigm to determine how farChaucer has any established sense of English as a mother tongue with regardto other “foreign” languages. An account of Chaucer’s literary experiencedepends as much on general speculation as on the facts of his understandingof French, Latin, Italian, and archaic English. Then, I address the question: Inwhat sense is Chaucer’s English English to non-English speakers? Finally, Iconclude that it is difficult to identify “English” as an entity that leaves aparticular legacy in Chaucer’s writing, for the reason that medieval Englishliterature in general, Chaucer’s poetry in particular, is by and large a productof cross-cultural and multilingual literary experience.


Chaucer, multilingualism, Middle English, The Canterbury Tales, Taiwan