The British are the worst language learners in Europe, according to a survey published by the European Commission. However, this was not always the case: in Medieval Britain, French was critical to work in business, law and literature. In 1300, one in five people were bilingual in English and French. More than a quarter of modern English words derive from French.
In this free-online 60 minute event with audience questions, we’ll be looking at the UK’s previous period of multilingualism, and asking what changed.
We will hear from Dr Thomas Hinton of the University of Exeter, who has been busily editing the Tretiz, a remarkable rhymed vocabulary textbook for children written in the thirteenth century by an Essex gentleman, Walter de Bibbesworth. He will explain how its seventeen surviving manuscripts shine a light onto how and why Britons learned languages in the Middle Ages.
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Dr Thomas Hinton
Senior Lecturer in French
Modern Languages and Culture
University of Exeter
Thomas Hinton is Senior Lecturer in French at the University of Exeter, and Principal Investigator on the Learning French in Medieval England project. He has worked on the Tretiz since 2016, and has published on both the text’s literary features and its relationship to other texts attributed to Bibbesworth. His wider research interests include the development of French literary culture in the Middle Ages, Arthurian romance, histo