Title Background

William Langland’s First First Word

William Langland’s First First Word

PPl is known for its depictions of social upheaval, its theological discourse, textuality, and its visionary poetics, less so for the invention of literary English. Yet although Chaucer now has the clearer claim to have initiated a literary language, L has the prior claim. This note examines the first word that L was, evidently, first to use in the first version of PPl, composed c. 1370. This word is iaperis ‘jesters’ (A.Prol.35). In line 35 and elsewhere in the prologue to the A version, L discovers categorizations for social malpractice, categorizations he never left behind in the process of rewriting his life’s work. (EW)


Notes and Queries, 66.4 (2019), 509–510


Weiskott, Eric