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By David Burnley (auth.)

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Extra info for A Guide to Chaucer’s Language

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E 470-1) Who, however, is not used by Chaucer as a relative, and remains an interrogative and indefinite pronoun, as in Old English. 14 Perhaps the commonest relative is that, and it is, as in modern English, used of both personal and non-personal antecedents, although it is commoner with the former: 15 PalamonlThat serueth yow; (A 2794-5) thilke fyr that whilom brende thee. (A 2403) Whom, whos, and which are often combined with that, as in E 471 (above). The forms the which and the which that, both of which occur in more elaborate poetry, and are especially common in prose, seem to be influenced by the French liquels.

Although from Old English onwards there had been a tendency to distinguish between personal and nonpersonal antecedents in pronoun usage, no distinction was regularly maintained in Chaucer's time, so that which frequently follows a personal antecedent: The knyght cam which men wenden had be deed. (D 2029) 26 A GUIDE TO CHAUCER'S LANGUAGE Whos and whom are both common as relative pronouns, and these, along with which, are commonly preceded by a preposition: This Sowdanesse whom I thus blame and warye; (B 372) this clerk whos rethoryk swete; (E 32) For if a preest be foul in whom we truste; (A 501) This duc of whom I make mencion; (A 893) Lord to whom fortune hath yiuen/Victorie; (A 915-6) this present digniteel In which that I have put yow.

However, a second kind of sentence states hypothetical facts, wished-for circumstances, possibilities: it is a kind of sentence in which the speaker's attitude to the action or state described by the verb is as important as the action or state described: And thogh that he weereworthy, he was wys; (A 68) Be blythe though thow ryde vpon a iade; (B 4002) That if gold ruste what sholde iren do? (A 500) Euerich a word ifit be in his charge; (A 733) Telleth youre grieflest that he come adoun; (B 1346) Til that she fynde som man hir to chepe; (D 268) For which I hope his soule be in glorie.

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