How many Chaucers does it take to change a language?

After 600 years, what do we think of when we hear the name Geoffrey Chaucer? The straightforward, factual answer – that he was the son of London wine merchant, born sometime in the 1340s, who spent his life, after youthful forays to the French wars and diplomatic missions, working as a civil servant and building up a formidable reputation as a poet and translator – probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when this question is asked. Even if we’ve read little or nothing of his works, our response to the question ‘who was Chaucer’ is still likely to be conditioned by what we know of his writings.

Read more: Oxford Dictionaries

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