The more things change …

… the more they stay the same.

“Dear Dad, Send Money – Letters from Students in the Middle Ages”

is a short article from a site called (the word “medieval” means the Middle Ages — from about the 5th to the 15th centuries, it’s pronounced “mid-evil” and it can also mean more generally “outdated, antiquated, anachronistic”).

The English language has changed a lot since then, but university students asking their parents for money has not.

An excerpt from a letter from the 13th century:

“…I am studying at Oxford with the greatest diligence, but the matter of money stands greatly in the way of my promotion, as it is now two months since I spent the last of what you sent me. The city is expensive and makes many demands; I have to rent lodgings, buy necessaries, and provide for many other things which I cannot now specify.”

Writing prompts:

How about you? Do you have a part-time job, or do you get an allowance from your parents? If and when you ask them for money, do you specify what it’s for? What are your “necessaries” — things you have to buy to survive?

How do you find the language in these letter excerpts? Can you try translating them into more modern English?

What does the idiom “The more things change, the more they stay the same” mean, in other words? Can you translate it into Japanese or another language?


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