The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Donner, Morton. "Derived Words in Chaucer's Boece: The Translator as Wordsmith." 18 (1984): 187-203.
Careful examination of Chaucer's translation of Boece reveals how Chaucer thought about language and translation. He borrows words for which he can find no English equivalent or which denote exactly the right meaning. A number of Chaucer's innovative words are gerunds, and most of them have English, not French or Latin roots. Others are present participles and formations using "un-" as a prefix. The formation of gerunds and present participles is not as frequent in Chaucer's original work, suggesting that he used more linguistic innovation when translating. Chaucer also makes nouns from verbs by using the "-er" suffix. The care Chaucer uses to translate Boece shows his respect for meaning and language.
Gaylord, Alan T. "The Moment of Sir Thopas: Towards a New Look at Chaucer's Language." 16 (1982): 311-29.
Both Dante and Deschamps wrote treatises expressing a particular view of language. In the Tale of Sir Thopas Chaucer presents his view of literary language carefully concealed behind parody. Chaucer adjusts the tail-rhyme of Guy of Warwick to create laughter and to establish literary English. A standard of language adapted for poetry did not exist in the fourteenth century: Chaucer had to create a poetic language that sounded believably like speech.
Grudin, Michaela Paasche. "Chaucer's Manciple's Tale and the Poetics of Guile." 25 (1991): 329-42.
The Manciple's Tale "explains and reinforces" the poetic principles present in the Canterbury Tales (330). The tale is built on fallen language; if it is about silence, there is a multitude of words within it. The action focuses the attention of the audience on truth and the act of speaking the truth. Though Chaucer suggests that society is not entirely comfortable with truth, he accentuates the creative, mimetic voice. Chaucer constructs the tale to remind his audience of his position as a court poet, and the tale shows Chaucer's awareness of corruption and the danger of instructing kings. The amplifications that seem to disrupt the tale remind readers of the need for slyness and care in political arenas. Phoebus is completely disconnected from such impulses. Without the discernment to pierce deception, Phoebus ultimately has no perception. Chaucer thus demonstrates how poets can "survive," but never resolves the question of truth-telling (339).
Pelen, Marc M. "The Manciple's 'Cosyn' to the 'Dede.'" 25 (1991): 343-54.
The Manciple's Tale dramatizes Chaucer's perception of the limits of language to communicate ultimate truths. In the Metamorphoses Ovid asks questions about the viability of attempting to represent gods as humans. The Manciple's Tale suggests a settlement of the conflict: "the object of the legend of Phoebus and the crow must be identified as a sacramental and not as a human concern" (350).