by Geoffrey Chaucer
...for absolute beginners!
In this Mini Middle English Tutorial, you will see and hear examples of “Middle English,” the language spoken during the Middle Ages (from the time of the Norman Conquest  until about 1500), according to this Harvard College Geoffrey Chaucer website.
The Harvard College website examines “The Canterbury Tales,” a collection of stories written in the “Middle English” language by Geoffrey Chaucer at the end of the 14th century.
You can find out all about Geoffrey Chaucer and The Canterbury Tales from this index page on the Harvard College website.
You will note the navigation-links on the upper left side of this page. You can click on the “Video 1-18” link to see and hear the first 18 lines of The General Prologue (introduction) to The Canterbury Tales.
[Print readers will have to go to this tutorial's website address:
to access these navigation links. The blue/purple, underlined reference-links on this page are listed on the second page of this printout.]
Each line of The General Prologue will be presented in three formats on the video, one under the other. The first line will be in the prologue's Middle English spelling. The second line will act as a Pronunciation Guide, to help you to sort out the syllabication. (There is a Pronunciation Guide above the video to help you in this regard.) The third line on the video will give you a rough Modern English translation of the first, Middle English line.
This three-line format is repeated in more detail on the “Lines x-x” pages, where additional information about each pair of rhyming lines (as well as a Pronunciation Guide on each page) will aid you in familiarizing yourself with the gobbledygook-sounding words that comprise the Middle English language.
Below the “Video 1-18” link, there are 9 other links (Lines 1-2, Lines 3-4, etc.) that you can choose from to see and hear the 9 pairs of rhyming lines that comprise the first 18 lines of The General Prologue. Each pair of these rhyming lines is called a couplet.
The original audio on the “Video 1-18” and “Lines 1-2” thru “Lines 17-18” pages comes from this Virginia Military Institute website page, that is linked to via this University of North Carolina Chaucer MetaPage website.
Most of the information contained in this tutorial was gleaned from the Harvard College Geoffrey Chaucer website, maintained by author
Larry D. Benson.
Just added: Lines 19 thru 34 of The General Prologue read by the
Ultra Hal Text-to-Speech Reader from Zabaware.
Just click the Intro Page 19-34 navigation-link to reach this new section!
A special thanks to Colonel S. Alan Baragona, Professor of English at the Virginia Military Institute.