Gegaderung

Gegaderung => Anglo-Saxon Discussion => Topic started by: Jayson on September 07, 2011, 05:13:55 PM

Title: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: Jayson on September 07, 2011, 05:13:55 PM
I'm getting tired of being told that A-S, Old English, is only a small part of our modern language!   

Some time ago, on BBC TV, there was a programme about the treasures of A-S England by Professor Janina Ramirez which ended with her saying, roughly, that there were 'even a small number of A-S words in modern English'.

I was talking recently to an apparently educated man who said that there was only 5% A-S in modern English and when I argued, he asked if the experts were wrong, then?   To which I replied 'Yes!'

A woman I would have thought was educated even asked why I thought A-S had anything to do with English which was based on Latin and through that on French.

Can anyone suggest ways in which Old English can be publicised more  --  is anyone out there willing/able to give lessons on it to the general public, perhaps nightclasses.   

Or something.   

Anything???



Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: Bowerthane on September 08, 2011, 12:38:36 AM
Well said Jayson.


You put your finger on a point I find deeply peculiar when it isn’t infuriating.  There’s a kind of circular reasoning and contrafactual sense of entitlement that seems to besot many educated people if ever they get started about Old English: language, culture, “mud huts”, you name it.

A few years ago I proofread a textbook for students taking the English Literature baccalaureate.  This was, on the whole, every bit as well informed and interesting as you’d expect.  I learnt a thing or two about certain early twentieth-century novelists who’d never interested me.  After all it was written by a professor of English Literature and all.  Yet the minute he got onto Old English and what he thought he knew about the Anglo-Saxons, he seemed to see nothing air-headed or irresponsible about letting his gut do the taking.  I had to put him straight about two examples of modern English words “from Anglo-Saxon” that actually entered our language from Medieval French, ultimately from Latin ( a third example was actually from Old Norse, but that I call an understandable mistake).  These words he characterised as strong and forceful.  Which of course real throwbacks to Old English can be but, by this time, I could not help but raise the question of why other such throwbacks as ‘care’ ( caru), ‘heart’ ( heorte) and ‘bosom’ ( bōsm), to say nothing of The Dream of the Rood didn’t suggest that the Old English had a softer, sensitive and more spiritual side. 

Then he repeated the myth that there was a big inrush of French words into English in the immediate aftermath of the Norman Conquest.  The which he took for granted as a Good Thing because these French words are wonderfully expressive and flexible, and that they made up the majority of Chaucer’s vocabulary! 

Since I had to put him straight about Old Norse, still, accounting for the majority of borrowings into Early English ( the Norman-Angevin Period) and that it wasn’t until the end of the Hundred Years War ( when England’s aristocracy at last made its once-and-for-all plump for speaking English as their normative Mother Tongue) that French words came in en masse, I dropped a few other hints whilst I was about it.  Like the way the Ancrene Riwle is still closer to Old English than Chaucer, and does anyone think Germanic languages that retained normative Germanic vocabularies are somehow tongue-tied or straitjacketed because they haven’t borrowed enough French vocabulary, and was this a criticism anyone ever made of Goethe’s Faust?  Then I used forty-two of the sixty words in the same line note I wrote as examples of the half of Modern English’s vocabulary that goes back to Old English, and whereabouts in his own textbook he had given other reasons why half of Chaucer’s vocabulary was certainly not from French.

Speaking of “circular reasoning” but the best sense I could make of it was that he meant that half of the sorta snazzy-looking words, mostly nouns, that Chaucer used, mostly from French and that have since won themselves an air of refinement… are the only ones he really cared about.  It certainly didn’t cross his mind to count them. 

Speaking of a “sense of entitlement” but this is my best explanation for what gets ahead of educated people’s fact-checking ( or their “intellectual conscience” as either Aristotle or Nietzsche called it) such that they make such complacent pronouncements on the fly.  Somehow or other Latinate and Greek-based words enjoy better moral or existential rights than silly Old English ones.  “Doom is less literary than amartia” as I think Professor Tolkien put it.  They certainly seem to appeal to the vanity and debauch the intellects of people who get a sense of superiority out of them. 

Speaking of Professor Tolkien but it wasn’t a question of wanting to find fault, and not just because I'm not supposed to editorialise.  This professor of literature also spoke well of dear old The Lord of the Rings, taking a pointy stick to some of the prickly drivel talked about it by certain kinds of novelista.  Yet so far as I could tell his impression of the Old English was that of mead-swigging barbarians, so I made sure to draw his attention to the fact that the majority of surviving Old English written material is ecclesiastical.

Alas, I can't suggest any new educational ways or means for countering this bumspeak unless it’s simply to Know Your Stuff.  I enjoy drawing the attention of people under the impression that the Normans were French, and/ or the wonders done for our powers of self-expression by all this frogspeak they brought us, that there was no such place as France in 1066 and no such language as French until long after the Hundred Years War.  The beginning, repeat beginning of French national consciousness was one of the results of people like the Black Prince giving the 'French' a proper kicking.  Much as was the use of Francien, the patios of the Ile de France where the ‘French’ court was usually held, was made the language of royal written communications at this time, laying the foundations, repeat foundations of Modern French.  As I pointed out to the professor chap, this is why the ‘French’ learned by Chaucer’s Prioress was not that of Paris, and why the Anglo-Norman dialect spoken by William the Conqueror and most of his knights was a third thing again.  Calling that ‘Anglo-Norman’ is about the best that can be done.  The fact that the majority of soldiers in the French army still couldn’t speak French by 1871, when the Prussian-led North German Confederation gave them another proper kicking in the Franco-Prussian War of that oh-happy year, was one of the reasons the French came up with for why their attempt to invade Germany ( yes, they provoked it all) was less than successful.
   
It’s also useful to know the etymologies of some Latin- and Greek-based words that… aren’t.  Words like: abacus ( from Etruscan apcar, as are ‘Roman’ numerals), basalt ( from a North African language), Bible ( from Biblos, a city in the Levant), canon ( from Babylonian), literature ( no known Latin origin, the Romans are suspected of borrowing that from Etruscan too), hyacinth ( from a pre-Greek or ‘Pelasgian’ language) and map ( from Phoenician) are one way to put the ‘moron-’ into ‘oxymoron’ if ever the, ahem, ‘Classically educated’ are taking a superior attitude.  It’s either that or innocently allude to the fact that Zeno the Stoic, whose hare-not-overtaking-the-tortoise point debunked Platonic ‘science’… was a Phoenician.



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The moral right of the author to be identified on Yigael’s Wall, excavated by the archaeologist Bugenhagen, has been asserted.
Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: Jayson on September 09, 2011, 08:25:23 PM
---many thanks, Bowerthane, for such a literate, no knowledgfull, reply!   I wonder what kind of a reply you got from the Professor?

About other words in our amazing language:  our family lived in Dubai back int he 80s and I fell into doing a bit of writing.   On occasions I wrote for the children's magazine of one of the local newspapers and was asked to do an article about the Arabian words contained in English.   On going through the Etymological English dictionary I found so many (and still missed some) that I ended up doing three pieces, making it into a story including the English words and then explaining how they came from Arabic at the end.  I assume that we managed to collect them during the Crusades?

If only English people weren't so snobbish about the origins of their own language...
Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: Georius - JB on September 09, 2011, 11:23:14 PM
Actually, people often percieve the development of language in "inaccurate" proportions: Lexicon is one linguistic variable that is incredibly susceptible to language change. It is often forgotten that:
  - Modern English preserves the fully functional preterite system, i.e. the system of strong verbs; an ancient system conditioned by Proto-Indo-European ablaut, which, as a counter-example is slowly starting to die away in German (verbs are slowly shifting to the weak verb system).
  - Modern English preserves the ancient r ~ s alternations, which are due to Verner's Law; e.g. was - were - Scandinavian, for instance, has generalised the r-variable ( Swedish: jag er, du er, han er, etc.)
  - Modern English preserves the ancient dental fricative thorn, which is a reflex of Proto-Indo-European *t, only surviving in Icelandic besides English.
  - The tense system is, to a large extent, parallel in its development to many modern Germanic languages.

There are more Germanic features which I could enumerate, but I am rather tired at this point  :)
It is crucial, that we realise that the lexicon is only one level of language. English is more Germanic than some people may imagine.

 
Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: Wulfric on September 11, 2011, 10:16:09 AM
Thanks for that Georius, that certainly is an interesting aspect of language I'd love to know more about.
Could you possibly recommend any comprehensive books I could use to read up on it?
Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: leofwin on September 11, 2011, 10:18:58 AM
I think there's an article for WW to be written here!
Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: peter horn on September 11, 2011, 11:32:41 AM
I think there's an article for WW to be written here!

Well pointed out Matt.
Part of the answer to Jayson's original, main question is, that Old English should be promoted by well researched and well written articles in WW & these articles can then be added to our main website
Peter
Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: Georius - JB on September 11, 2011, 05:17:18 PM
Thanks for that Georius, that certainly is an interesting aspect of language I'd love to know more about.
Could you possibly recommend any comprehensive books I could use to read up on it?

There are myriads of books out there, but as an authoritative introductory read I would suggest A. C. Baugh and T. Cable's A History of the English Language. As a state of the art series on English historical linguistics, though, I would recommend The Cambridge History of the English Language (4 vols.), but for this one you would need a fairly comprehensive background in linguistics.

Sadly, there is little (or none, to my knoweldge) good "introductory" literature on the topic of historical/comparative Germanic linguistics (most of the stuff requires lingustic background).

Edit: I've only just realised that you might be interested in general linguistics; I hear a good introductory read is Grover Hudson's Essential Introductory Linguistics.



I think there's an article for WW to be written here!


I haven't really thought about this, but I would be delighted to write a comprehensive article on the inherited features of (Old) English (from a Germanic and Indo-European standpoint) that would be oriented for the " more popular sphere" and so make it accessible to a wider range of readers. I am currently preparing to start on my thesis in Old English, but I'm sure I will find the time, especially as I specialise in Germanic historical linguistics and language change in general :)
Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: Linden on September 11, 2011, 08:23:20 PM
.........I haven't really thought about this, but I would be delighted to write a comprehensive article on the inherited features of (Old) English (from a Germanic and Indo-European standpoint) that would be oriented for the " more popular sphere" and so make it accessible to a wider range of readers. .............

That's an article (or series?????) that I would really love to read.  Many of the books on the subject seem to be in German and my vintage 'O' Level German is not up to the task.  There are scattered bits and pieces in Campbell's 'Old English Grammar' but not enough to get any kind of overall picture of how the sounds and structure of Old English developed.   
Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: Bowerthane on September 12, 2011, 09:53:54 PM
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I wonder what kind of a reply you got from the Professor?
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None.  As a rule it’s the publishers who deal with authors, and I don’t encourage them to get back to me as I mostly proof fiction and keen/ overconfident/ naive authors will gobble into my earning-time in leaps and bounds if I’m not careful.  I’m self-employed!  I fear my first post was too close to breaching commercial confidentiality already, so all I’ll say is that the textbook is still on the market but the professor, an Oxford graduate, is now retired in Devon.  I haven’t read the finished version so I’ve no idea how much notice he took of my reader’s report.  None possibly: it’s the author’s prerogative to take or leave anything I say and the complacent ones, who think they are reincarnations of D. H. Lawrence even when they don’t know the difference between a cataract and a catacomb, ignore me entirely.  ( Other solecisms I have known include the sci-fi author who portrayed Jews celebrating Christmas, a South African one who got Oliver Cromwell mixed up with Thomas Cromwell and therefore the Civil War with the Reformation, the West African horror writer who thought Salisbury Plain was just outside London, and never mind the religious campaigner who represented Atheists as regarding Bertrand Russell as a Christ-substitute or a Father Christmas-substitute, the witless prick couldn’t say which).


I can say that a certain published, successful and all-round-bloody-good children’s writer, whose novel closely involved the Old English and the Norsemen, got three times his money’s worth because I enjoyed it so much!  I wrote one of my longest reader’s reports because I fed him all kinds of suggestions, as well as straightening out a plot-hole left by the two distinct phases in the Anglo-Norse wars that he had confabulated.  From an online sample I’ve seen that he incorporated my suggestion about portraying King Athelstan refounding the church in whose yard his novel’s centrepiece stood, after the Reconquest of the Danelaw.


To any budding writers out there my advice is make sure you enjoy it, like any other hobby, because in all likelihood that is all you will ever get out of it.  The market is so competitive that you don’t have to be good to be good: you have to be shit hot, lucky as hell and if at all possible work in publishing.




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There are more Germanic features which I could enumerate, but I am rather tired at this point
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I think I know what you mean, Gregorious JB.  It is curious that, for all that English is way out of line in the proportion of its vocabulary it has borrowed from the Classical and Romance languages relative to normative Germanic languages, nonetheless we have preserved grammatical and other features lost or dwindled in other Germanic languages. 

Is it true, as I’ve heard suggested, that because English ( and Icelandic) preserves the dental fricative in thorn, we sound old-fashioned to speakers of Continental Germanic languages?  Can anyone say?   

I’d be delighted to read anything you may like to write about all this.  Get my finger out an resubscribe to Ðā Engliscan Ġesīþas, even, which, once again, I have allowed to lapse and keep meaning to do… 

 
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The moral right of the author to be identified as the one nobody’s talking about has been asserted.
Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: Georius - JB on September 14, 2011, 12:18:14 PM

Is it true, as I’ve heard suggested, that because English ( and Icelandic) preserves the dental fricative in thorn, we sound old-fashioned to speakers of Continental Germanic languages?  Can anyone say?   


I would say Modern English speakers don't sound old fashioned to speakers of continental Germanic, primarily because these fricative consonants were lost so long ago historically that native speakers of these languages cannot have any intuitive knowledge about them; e.g. High German dialects were subject to a shift known as the High German Consonant Shift, which turned such fricatives into stops (along with a handful of other changes) and this process occured during the period prior to the attestation of Old High German - probably spanning from the period of late antiquity to the beginning of the early medieval era.
Modern English sounds may, thereofre, only sound different :)
Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: David on September 15, 2011, 03:38:47 PM

Georius

I definitely want to see this article in wiðowinde.

Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: leofwin on September 15, 2011, 04:59:47 PM
me too
Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: Georius - JB on September 15, 2011, 11:58:24 PM
As soon as I get some time on my hands I will work on it. I have formulated the basic picture in my head - it would probably be best to divide the topic in (at least) two parts and thus into two articles: I. Phonology and II. Morphology, since these alone will turn out very comprehensive.
Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: Jayson on September 18, 2011, 01:52:19 PM
May I return to my original question of 'How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English'?

I definitely like the idea of Georius doing such an article or series of articles for Withwinde but this is really just preaching to the converted.   What I should really like to see or hear are articles or talks given in the wider world about this subject since the people whose opinions so riled me about A-S aren't likely to be reading Withowinde.

Does anyone have any ideas about this?

The only ones I can think of off-hand is that perhaps some of you might agree to give talks or a series of talks to members of the University of the Third Age in their local area or advertise their willingness to appear as speakers at functions since speakers are always in great demand.

Any offers?????



Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: leofwin on September 18, 2011, 02:47:22 PM
I'm investigating U3A at the moment

Also working on a book on old English for beginners which is directed at a wider audience (particularly the young) than what's generally available at the moment.
Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: Bowerthane on September 20, 2011, 12:09:48 AM
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[ O]ld English for beginners... ( particularly the young)
____________________________________________


Had you planned on bringing in a runic angle, Leofwin?  Many, many years ago I wrote a sample chapter of an 'Old English for Beginners' with an eye to youngsters.  Beginning with runes seemed to kill a number of birds with one stone: a) flagging down and holding the interest of the young in the first place ( for the love of God get 'em on the cover!), b) getting through to them and all concerned that Old English runes are not 'derived from' or 'based on' Norse runes ( indeed that both seem to go back to contact between Early Germanics, who possibly had some magical symbols, and a North Italic alphabet many centuries before the Norsemen existed) but are brother and sister, not father and son ( or have you had the same trouble knocking the Elder Futhark out of people's heads as Ye Hoary Olde Runstocke Whence It Alle Beganne, 'cause that's what all the New Age Noddyland books say?) also c) this allows you to introduce the three runic letters to which Old English Benedictines gave handwritten forms the right ie. historical way round ( accidentally-on-purpose slaying another myth, that Old English Christians piously disdained to use runes), plus, d) creates an opportunity to explain about the Celtic letter Eth as an alternative to Thorn ( ie. that there's no phonetic difference so readers can do as they like) and a chance to make sure the unhistorical use of Eth as a Y ( "Ye Old Tea Shoppe" nonsense) is understood as a complete red herring, never used for that sound in Old English.

There might be others but I'd have to find the MS which is not, as Gandalf would say, one of the lighter matters if you know what my powers of organisation are like.  Under the sink, quite possibly.


Something else I didn't have time for, along with the illustrations I'd planned, was designing a set of rub-down runes.  Yes that's right, I said rub-down runes.  A sheet of which could be included in the book as a 'gimmick', or sent off for in connection with some competition or test.  Or of course produced by The English Companions as something to give or sell to children and anyone else with a use for, as I say, rub-down runes.  One way of popularising our subject, if nothing else.  Hint hint.


As you see, the project went the way of my wave-generator patent application, the book I did write that predicted September the Eleventh but everyone rejected in the 1990s, my plans to brew mead, fix the tile on the roof, put the cat out, invade Normandy etc.  So I don't mind giving the idea away.



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The moral right of the author to be identified as a Generous Old Hector has been asserted.






 

Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: John Nicholas Cross on September 20, 2011, 12:14:05 PM
 d) creates an opportunity to explain about the Celtic letter Eth as an alternative to Thorn ( ie. that there's no phonetic difference so readers can do as they like) and a chance to make sure the unhistorical use of Eth as a Y ( "Ye Old Tea Shoppe" nonsense) is understood as a complete red herring, never used for that sound in Old English. (QUOTE).

Dear Bowerthane,

Can you be kind enough, to explain in more detail, these points in your last posting?   Thanks a bundle.

John.





 


Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: Bowerthane on September 20, 2011, 02:50:45 PM
____________________
[ E]xplain in more detail
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Not sure what there is to explain.  When I last knew anything about it, Eth ( ð and Ð, if my typefont comes through in this format?) originated in Irish monasticism as a ‘d’ with a crossed ascender, and Irish/ Celtic Christians were the first to bring literacy to the Old English.  Amongst whom it remained in use as an alternative to the handwritten form of the rune thorn ( þ), both being used indifferently on the same manuscript page and even in the same word: I’ve seen oþþe spelt oððe, oðþe and oþðe on the same page. 

Then, by about Tudor times if memory serves, residual use of Eth was mistaken for a ‘Y’ and pronounced accordingly, giving rise to the bogus definite article ‘Ye’.  Presumably because the crossed ascender grew in proportion to the loop beneath, leaving it looking like a ‘Y’ with a curly bum.


From a pedagogical point of view, the problem I’ve found with people new to ( or bloody ignorant of) our subject is a jerk assumption that ð and þ must necessarily be pronounced differently or why-did-they-bother-with-two-letters?  Once I had to pull out my facsimiles of the Life of Saint Margaret of Antioch to prove to a friend that the Old English used both letters indifferently for the same sound ( something else learners may need to know is that, amongst Old English monks, lower-case Eth could get worn down to a sorta loop with wonky feelers). 

As for the bogus definite article ‘Ye’, I’ve found that this is one of the few things any people think they know about the ‘Old English’ or ‘Old English’, like Alfred-and-the-cakes.  I have been, frankly, amazed at the formidable struggle many English-speakers have in disentangling pre-Conquest Old English from just any old English that happens not to be bang-up-to-date modern.  I suspect the ‘tushery’ one finds in bodice-rippers is partly to blame for this, the ‘Ye’ word another part.  Even when you think you’ve straightened them out you find that, without missing a beat, some mental tick has switched them back to the land of Olde Worlde.

Is that what you wanted to know?  My general point is that there’s certain myths and misinformation that you have to knock out of people’s heads before you can get started on the real thing.

All I can make of this is that pre-Conquest history, maybe especially pre-Conquest English history, does not enjoy the same mental salience between the ears of many English people; and that it doesn’t seem to be the distance in time because you don’t have this problem with Roman Britain.   

You’re forever having to go back and prove, all over again, that pre-Conquest history really did happen.  God knows why, I can’t see what’s so complicated about it…
Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: Georius - JB on September 20, 2011, 03:40:19 PM
Just as a side question question, doesn't the ye phenomenon relate to the emergence of printing machines and their exportation to England? (The printers could not print Eth (or Thorn for that matter), as far as I know.)
Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: Linden on September 20, 2011, 04:22:47 PM
Just as a side question question, doesn't the ye phenomenon relate to the emergence of printing machines and their exportation to England? (The printers could not print Eth (or Thorn for that matter), as far as I know.)
According to Dennis Freeborn's  'From Old English to Standard English' , it was letter 'thorn' rather than letter 'eth' that grew to look rather like a 'y' and led to the confusion of  'Ye Olde Shoppe' etc. 

As both 'thorn' and 'eth' were replaced by  'th', a restricted  use for a 'thorn' (that had lost its ascender and grew to look more and more like a 'y') was found where the 'th' sound was at the beginning of a word and the printer/writer sought to abbreviate words in very common usage - especially 'the' ('ye ') and 'that'('yt ').

There are several references throughout the afore-mentioned book but that on page 252 to the (hand-written) mid-15th century  'text 86 - The Boke of Margery Kempe' is the clearest.

The book is a fascinating read for anyone curious as to how Old English developed into present-day English.
Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: John Nicholas Cross on September 20, 2011, 06:30:42 PM
Thanks Bowerthane, Linden and Georius-JB,

Rather a lot said about a subject, that was thought to be "not sure what is to explain"!!

Many, many folk are extremely ignorant, about the Anglo-Saxon period of our history.  Something unlikely to be improved by the educational 'National Curriculum', or so I understand!  Talk about 'throwing out the baby with the bath-water'. 

John.
Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: Jayson on September 20, 2011, 09:33:11 PM
About Eth and Thorn:  the first person I contacted about learning A-S was a professor at Oxford and she told me that Eth was 'This and That' and Thorn was 'Thick and Thin'.   Was she wrong and is there, as you say, no difference between their pronunciation?
Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: Linden on September 20, 2011, 09:48:08 PM
About Eth and Thorn...............................

A. Campbell's 'Old English Grammar' §58(6)
"........ These two symbols, ð and þ, remain the usual ones for the dental spirants in OE: the distinction between them is purely a palaeographical question."
Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: Horsa on September 20, 2011, 10:38:48 PM
About Eth and Thorn:  the first person I contacted about learning A-S was a professor at Oxford and she told me that Eth was 'This and That' and Thorn was 'Thick and Thin'.   Was she wrong and is there, as you say, no difference between their pronunciation?

That applies to Modern Icelandic orthography, but not to Old English. I hope she was talking about Icelandic and not Old English otherwise she's wrong. Perhaps in some learning texts they use eth and thorn as in modern icelandic along with macrons in order to help the learners out with the pronunciation. And that's a good idea, but it's not how the characters were originally used by the pre-conquest English. As Linden and Bowerthane said, there is no difference in their pronunciation.
Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: Jayson on September 22, 2011, 05:22:59 PM
-----ooops, this professor at Oxford WAS talking about Old English.   She sent me a page of Old English sentences which were very like Modern English and which she uses to show how easy (!) it is.
Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: Horsa on September 22, 2011, 05:59:22 PM
-----ooops, this professor at Oxford WAS talking about Old English.   She sent me a page of Old English sentences which were very like Modern English and which she uses to show how easy (!) it is.

I really don't want this to be true. This would mean that the march of mediocrity is inexorable.

Are you quite sure that she was not talking about the adapted orthography for a learning text she uses like dotted gs and cs and macrons and the like?
Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: Georius - JB on September 22, 2011, 08:49:46 PM
I sincerely hope (and think?) that was a mistake, too.

I don't see much point in using eth and thorn for voiced and voiceless fricatives, respectively, for pedagogical purposes (though people may do so), as using only one forces the learner to understand the allophonic system of voicing crucial to OE.
Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: Bowerthane on September 23, 2011, 02:28:02 PM
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[T]his professor at Oxford WAS talking about Old English
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Wā-lā my poor sinking heart. Why am I not surprised?


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[ U]sing eth and thorn for voiced and voiceless fricatives… for pedagogical purposes ( though people may do so),
___________________________________________________________________________________________


Funny, but that was one of my Bright Ideas when I sat down to teach myself Old English about thirty years ago.  But it soon broke down.  Maybe it’s because I’m left-handed, but I found that mixing eth and thorn in the same word could be convenient.  I’m in the habit of spelling double-th words like oþþe, oðþe because I find it easier to go into an eth after an ‘o’, and the like, and because it’s easy to begin a thorn ( from the top down) after crossing an eth.  If that makes sense?  Indeed, when I’m in the swing or being careless, the cross of the eth joins up with the ascender of the thorn.
   
I’m guessing an Old English monk would say the same.


By the way, you could have sticky-backed runes too, couldn't you? As well as rub-down ones.  Peel off the backing paper or lick the gum, kind of thing.
Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: Horsa on September 23, 2011, 09:57:17 PM
I don't see much point in using eth and thorn for voiced and voiceless fricatives, respectively, for pedagogical purposes (though people may do so), as using only one forces the learner to understand the allophonic system of voicing crucial to OE.

Based on my experience of learning Old English, I would say the opposite happens, unless you're learning with a teacher who can spot mistakes early, or you have a audio recordings of someone with good pronunciation. When I read texts that haven't been adapted for the learner I'm pretty good distinguishing long and short vowels and diphthongs and how to pronounce c and g. I put this down to the fact that I learnt from Sweet's Anglo-Saxon primer which uses dotted cs and gs and macrons to show vowel length. In the midst of learning all the other weird and wonderful things - dative, subjunctive, vocabulary, word order - I missed, or quickly forgot, the section on how to pronounce the lingua-dental fricative and unconsciously developed my own pronunciation. I put this down to the fact that Sweet uses only the thorn for both sounds.

I've since re-read the rules for the lingua-dental fricatives, but it's proving difficult to shift old habits. I wish Sweet had used the icelandic system of using ð for voiced and þ for unvoiced because I believe that I wouldn't have this idiosyncratic (probably) unhistorical pronunciation.

I had no trouble going from the standardized artificial teaching orthography of Sweet to other texts that are more faithful to the manuscripts: it's easy to recognize a word that has a different spelling than one is used to.

Other Languages' influence on English

I've noted a few times that Modern English word order is much closer to the Scandinavian languages, including old Norse, than it is to Old English or it's closer relatives. It also forms phrasal verbs on the Norse pattern where the particle is separated from the verb. Old English didn't do this and neither do any of the West Germanic languages. The tense system is practically identical to Continental Scandinavian languages and very similar to Norse.

I read somewhere that roughly 80% of English vocabulary is not from Old English, but that 80% of the words we use on a day to day basis is that 20% of Old English derived words. However, it seems that Norse has infiltrated the ordinals with 'first' which seems like one of the parts of the vocabulary that would be most resistant to outside influence (Romance got in there too with 'second'), and Norse even managed to make it into the pronoun system which I guess would be the most resistant part of vocabulary to outside influence.

For these reasons, I've wondered if English should be referred to as Anglo-Norse. Something like Norsified English with an elaborate head-dress of words from languages from all over the world including seven words of inuit origin (I can remember only 'anorak').

Spreading Old English Knowledge / Fighting Fallacies

I've never had to argue about Old English. Every time I've talked with someone about pre-conquest English history, it's been met with a kind of "Oh, I never knew that, how interesting" type of response, but then I've never got into a discussion with an 'expert'. My guess is the 'experts' don't want to lose face when confronted by a 'non-expert'.

I would echo what (I think) Bowerthane said - "know your stuff' - something that I'm still working on, but I would imagine that 'experts' challenged on something they have got wrong are always going to act with disdain and contempt towards the 'non-expert', and we're just going to have to take a deep breath, present the evidence and walk away. Hopefully the 'experts' will check facts later, and quietly change their opinions and pretend that they always had those opinions. If not, we work on everyone else and try to build up the numbers till the telly people respond by making documentaries about the pre-conquest era and mini-series set in the pre-conquest era.
Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: David Cowley on September 26, 2011, 05:03:11 PM
In terms of actual numbers of words, there are rather more loans from Latin, French and Greek and otehrs together than there are from OE. However, the OE words form the basic frame for English, without which it wouldn't be a language full stop. I have suggested many times that some lost OE words could be brought back (in modern spelling), particularly the ones that were ousted by loans, such as frith for peace, wulder for glory, evesty for jealous and suchlike. That, I think would be a highly meaningful way of getting some of that lost English yearve (heritage) back. BUt the idea really needs more support and enthusiasts if it is ever to take off!
Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: peter horn on September 29, 2011, 09:06:04 PM
In terms of actual numbers of words, there are rather more loans from Latin, French and Greek and otehrs together than there are from OE. However, the OE words form the basic frame for English, without which it wouldn't be a language full stop. I have suggested many times that some lost OE words could be brought back (in modern spelling), particularly the ones that were ousted by loans, such as frith for peace, wulder for glory, evesty for jealous and suchlike. That, I think would be a highly meaningful way of getting some of that lost English yearve (heritage) back. BUt the idea really needs more support and enthusiasts if it is ever to take off!

no lack of enthusiasts, there are some in the Fellowship who talk of nothing else.
The problem is there are different ideas as to which words should be brought back and which words should be left where they are.
Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: Georius - JB on September 30, 2011, 01:21:44 PM
I have to voice my opinion here :)

Even though the OE period means a lot to me personally and I cherish the language and its literature, I am a linguist and so a firm believer in the idea that language should not be changed "artificially". It is natural for languages to change - be it through substratal/adstratal contact with other languages or by the shere passing of time. I remember a lecture in year 2 of my studies, it was a lecture in Indo-European, and the first the professor said was "First, let me make one thing clear: As linguists we are to describe language and theorise about it, anything else (i.e. modifying language, prescribing it) is violence."  And I still believe in that.

However, I do think that people do not know enough about the "true" roots of Modern English, which should by itself be important as it is a piece of distinctive cultural heritage.

I hope this doesn't start a fight  :) (I an not telling anyone how to think, this is just my opinion.)
Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: Horsa on September 30, 2011, 07:15:14 PM
Georius, What do you think of Iceland's efforts in the '40s? What do you think of Hebrew being ressurected and retooled from liturgical language to everyday language?

I myself am very fond of Modern English as it is. Although this new phrase 'my bad' makes me wince. I take comfort from the thought that it probably won't be around for much longer. Also, the confusion between 'envy' and jealous' and 'uninterest' and 'disinterest' exasperates me. I am also inordinately fond of Old English and Middle English. I delight in the distinct character of the language and the literature of each stage of English. I'm really enjoying Dunbar at the moment, along with early middle English.

Having said that, I'll give fifty quid to anyone who manages to get a modernized OE word into general parlance. That would be an achievement.


However, I do think that people do not know enough about the "true" roots of Modern English, which should by itself be important as it is a piece of distinctive cultural heritage.


That's why were here. Not only on this thread but in the gesithas.
Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: Georius - JB on October 02, 2011, 12:11:21 PM
Well...the Iceland situation is not an easy question. Since I specialise in historical linguistics, I delight in the fact that there is still a Germanic language spoken out there that has preserved most of it "tenor" (though, phonologically, this is again very different). I also think the compounds for modern concepts they come up with (or perhaps have come up with), as opposed to borrowing, are a beautiful addition to the language.

Although I cannot ignore that this is referred to as "purism" (quite rightfully), since the development of a language was interefered with. If I was asked for an opinion, I'd cast aside my subjective feelings about Icelandic and call it purism. BUT, a caveat is in order, I would only criticise the people that performed this and the era when they decided to do so, as for most Icelandic native speakers, born after (or into) the period of this purism, these compounds seem "natural"  and should as such not be questioned as natural feature of Icelandic.

Yehuda's creation of Modern Hebrew is another type of matter, I think, since a language was revived , though reshaped, for communication purposes of the Jews (who spoke different languages!) gathered in Israel. If they decided to take up a language and communicate in it, I think there is no moral dilemma here; trying to speak Tiberian Hebrew without modifying it, there would be, though, in my book.
Casting aside any political circumstances (which are so often brought up here), I do not see any big linguistic/moral dilemma in reviving a language if you cannot communicate otherwise.
Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: David Cowley on October 04, 2011, 12:33:35 PM
I think it's mistaken to somehow rule out working to make positive linguistic change. How can suggesting we say 'unoverwon' instead/as well as 'unconquered' be violence? The Conquest was violence, not quietly trying to undo some of its linguistic effects.

I'd like to get that £50 that's been offered!! Maybe 'unoverwon' would be a good word to start with: We've got to start throwing words like this about - yes, us! If seen enough times by enough people, like any other 'new' word, it will get used in the media/ web/ e-mails.

Here is a summary list of OE-based options, from easy to hard. I throw my lot in with 1 and 2a/b, which is already ambitious, but you've got to try...

1. Using words from OE where there is a choice (such as fast and swift, instead of rapid).
2. a) Trying to bring some meaningful OE words back, in updated form, for use alongside loans we already have (such as oathbreach as a valid alternative to perjury).
2 b) As above, but trying to bring back lost words like frith for peace, anleth for face and suchlike.
3. Systematically making OE-based alternatives for most/ all loan words, whether the concepts/ things were in OE or not.
4. As above, with spelling reform.
5. Restoring OE as a spoken tongue.

Some notes for each of these:
1: Something we can all do now, with a little thought and care
2a: I'm sure that given a little push, some words could make it into use
2b: Would be harder, but might happen, especially if 2a had raised awareness
3: Whereas 2a/b works with updated, known words, this is about coining new ones; would be debate and differing theories on where best to go.
4: All recent attempts at English spelling reforms have failed
5: Outside set-piece bits at re-enactments, highly unlikely with such an inflected tongue!!
Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: Georius - JB on October 05, 2011, 05:22:59 PM
The Conquest was violence, not quietly trying to undo some of its linguistic effects.


This is exactly what I was trying to be careful about. I is "imperative", in linguistics of course, to make the distinction between  synchrony and diachrony - this is what structuralism of the early 20th century introduced by Ferdinand de Saussure was all about - and it also has a lot of bearing for this discussion: Of course, how could the Conquest be considered anything but violence? And any attempt to marginalise the English tongue, then, was pure violence of the worst kind. However, any native speaker of English, or of any language for that matter, is born "into" a world where words that etymologically stem from specific language branches, in English many come from Romance, are used very often; when the child's linguistix matrix is shaping, this is what he/she hears and this is what he/she recognises and subsequently internalises as his own, unique mother tongue. Nothing, no other foreign language can replace one's mother tongue (you can learn a language really well, but it will never function on the same cognitive level as your mother tongue - this is why L2 (=second language) speakers often cannot rely on their "intuition"); changing a language artificially must, therefore, be considered violence.

Of course, let me return to my original caveat: This is the view of a linguist; I am not telling anyone what they should think! :)
Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: David Cowley on October 06, 2011, 04:54:31 PM
Georius - I won't go much in to the question of what mother tongue is (many folk grow up hearing a number of tongues, even in their own home, and even if they may get a bit mixed up when very young, come to speak each very well as they grow up). It's really the fact that the mother tongue English we get in the first few years is very much the core OE-derived English. Its a lot of the stuff we learn after that at school and in a lot of other contexts, where much of the foreign loan influence. I'm suggesting that introducing more choice of restored, updated English words (often made up of elements already learned) has a very practical potential to make English more understandable to its own speakers, to reconnect with itself.
Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: Georius - JB on October 06, 2011, 06:04:40 PM
Yes, I do admit that my definition of "language acquisition" was somewhat more general; it didn't strictly refer to loanwords. I know what you're getting at, it's similar to the Iceland situation and almost identical to the situation in India, where they imported a ton of loans to Hindi from Classical Sanskrit. But this would indeed become natural for the generations "born into" (i.e. our simply those who grow up) in such a linguistic situation; but it would be unnatural, on the level of intuition, for those who grew up in a different linguistic environment.

Not to turn my posts into reiteration, I can say that I do look at this from a more general standpoint too; man has shaped language according to his ideology and this has been happening since ancient times (cf. the Tower of Babel story and also the Indian Śatapathabrahmanah 3.2.1: 23-24), so in a funny way, you can look at this as a natural process. I am but a humble linguist here, trying to theorise about language change  ;)

P.S. Umberto Eco's The Search for the Perfect Language is a wonderful read, which at certain points touches upon similar language-philosophy oriented questions.
Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: Horsa on October 06, 2011, 11:07:09 PM
I can really get behind 5. I'd love to have someone to speak to in Old English, or at least just listen to.

Also, I think it'd be nice if Old English, like Latin, had translations of Harry Potter and Asterix.  I'd like to see more modern poetry in germanic metres. I have a special fondness for drottkvaett and hrynhenda, but the standard verse is also lovely.

1, I think, is a little problematic. I think your best bet is to write a cult book or produce a cult film peppered with these words. That kind of worked with Clockwork orange. How did Yiddish words (?) 'schmuck' and 'chutzpah' enter English? Was that through cinema?

Basically, I don't fancy your chances. I don't have too much of a problem with Anglicised Old English words being inserted into English - I got terribly excited when I heard that 'google' had been verbed (but I do have an affection for modern English as it is). However, I don't think it's possible without a massive popular movement.
Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: David Cowley on October 10, 2011, 09:31:55 AM
Georius - that Umberto Eco book sounds interesting so shall look out for it.

Horsa:  quote  '... write a cult book or produce a cult film peppered with these words ...'

Potentially, that would be just the kind of thing to really get the ball rolling. Sadly, not something one can just knock out like that, whether or not one has lots of free time!! If there's ever to be an eftnewed (restored)  English movement, it will need a core of key players with a range of skills. As things are, there doesn't really seem to be a strong feeling that there should even be such a movement, or if so - as was said above - there isn't agreement on what it should be.

One thing I would recommend though is to learn something of other tongues - when you get into them and see how they work, hear and use them, it can be great boost to deeper insights into the shape and standing of one's own main language. Myself, I find it very hard to understand why, with the exception of William Barnes and a very few others, so few English speakers over the last few hundred years have made any effort to mine the rich vein of the forgotten and mislaid parts of the OE wordhoard. But after years of focus on Welsh, Gaelic, Greek and other tongues, it somehow seemed to be a matter crying out for attention! No little part of that was down to having lived many years in Wales, where a different linguistic situation is enshrined in law and policy, as well as being a source of positive pride for many; an ongoing process of development and striving towards common goals (such as rights to use either official tongue, and to bilingual education) is widely accepted, often treasured. Contrast with England, where somehow, the overwhelming background  monolingualism experience of many English speakers tends to forstall any interest in exploring - or even realising the possibilities of English itself.
Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: Wulfric on October 18, 2011, 09:10:07 PM
This thread has been so close to my heart, I love the sound of Old english, I love hearing OE words that still sing through in modern English and I even used some of the reconstructed words from Mr Cowley's book when I tried to write a riddle, my Old English not being up to it.

I think that we should definitely try to hold onto some of the OE words by using them thoughtfully. I personally find them far more fun to get my mouth round than inherited romance words.

However I am currently working in a school in North London, and feel that London may be a lost cause when it comes to preserving anything OE based. The word "shank" is a verb around here, it means to stab... aggressively. e.g. You's gon ge' shanked!  :'(

Back to topic though is there any way we could possibly get some kind of Gesithas' Old English language camp set up. I'm thinking of a residential weekend somewhere with intense OE courses. Particularly with a largely spoken element and opportunities to attempt conversations etc... PLEASE!!! I learn best by hearing a language and I feel there are others who would revel in the opportunity. If it could get started it would only get better as more and more confident speakers joined the ranks.
Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: Bowerthane on October 18, 2011, 10:05:42 PM
__________________________________________
[ S]ome kind of Gesithas’ Old English language camp
__________________________________________

Dunno if it still exists, but a number of years ago I had occasion to write ( yes write, come to think of it it was many years ago) to some Scots Gaelic language farm-thingie somewhere in the Highlands.  The idea was you could stay a weekend, a week etc experiencing rural life, doing farm work etc. using the beginners’ vocabulary they’d teach you.

Only now we have Bede’s World, a reconstructed longhall in Kent etc. I wonder if something of the kind doesn’t already exist?  Or with the help of Đā Engliscan Ġesīþas could be brought into existence?

Just my half penni’th.


Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: leofwin on October 19, 2011, 07:50:39 PM
to Wulfric -
ah, a weekend break in Anglo-Saxon England, armed perhaps with a 'Rough Guide' to the language and local customs...

It's a great phantasy, if only it could be made to work...

All volunteers to finance and resource the project form an orderly queue please...
Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: peter horn on October 20, 2011, 04:30:04 PM
There used to be a Fellowship's OE language group, started up and organised by those who had the idea. I dont know if it still exists. Anyway all we need to put new ideas into practice is somebody to actually do all the work involved, since the present Witan is still short of members including the important post of secretary and is somewhat overstretched at present.
Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: Horsa on October 27, 2011, 09:28:58 PM
I think an Old English language camp would be fantastic. I tried to start an Old English conversation group here in Toronto. We've got UofT here which has a fairly prestigious English department mediaeval studies department. So, it didn't feel like a silly thing to try. I got two people who were interested, but they had no knowledge of the language, so I changed it into a beginner's spoken Old English class. It was pretty good, quite a lot of fun, but broke down after a while because the members had other commitments and lived as far away from each other as possible so meeting in the middle took us all an hour to get there.

Here's what I found. One hour working orally with Old English in a group is worth between 5 and 10 hours working alone with your conventional Old English books.

I started to teach myself Ancient Greek a while back and came across an article that said that only 5% of people who take up self-study of Ancient Greek actually get so far as to be able to read texts, that number of people dramatically doubles to 10% for those studying New Testament Greek. I'd read elsewhere that between 1 and 2% of the population have the mental setup that enables them to learn effectively a language from a book.

I wish that my old english class could have continued, by now (a year later) things might have been interesting. I've mentioned this a couple of times here, but I'm currently trying to work out a way of developing my teaching techniques for the internet. I know what I want to do, and I know that it will work, but I have to adapt it to my level of ability with computers, or find someone who is both interested in Old English and capable with þissum searoweorcum.
Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: Jayson on November 01, 2011, 04:17:34 PM
Just a thought but how about contacting one of the national papers with the idea  --  perhaps the Express which seems to be the most pro-English paper at the moment.   Someone might e.mail the following address:     http://www.express.co.uk/haveastory     with a suggestion for an article.
Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: Horsa on November 02, 2011, 03:39:44 PM
Initially, when I read your post, Jayson, I wondered how how interested a tabloid would be in an online language course, especially one that's in the planning stage, but it is an interesting idea. If taken from a certain angle, I think there might be some interest. Perhaps push the oddness of the project: a language course that teaches an old dead language as if it were a living language.

I've got a few lessons planned up and have interactive activities designed that would not need a massive amount of tech wizardry to execute. I'm now wandering around my address book asking the computer geeks if they want to help me out with this. I've been thinking about this for over a year and the computer aspect really is a huge stumbling block for me. If I can't find someone who wants to commit to this project, it'll go nowhere.
Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: peter horn on November 06, 2011, 09:09:02 AM
weve gone a bit off topic, but never mind eh.

Back on topic, I was pleased to see, in the TImes Saturday review p 13, that Old English appears the submissions to the Times Stephen Spender Prize for poetry translation in a different setting and different mood. 

In Category 18 & under is The Whale, translated from Anglo-Saxon
and in the open Category is The Collar trans from Beowulf.

Personally I much prefer straightforward translations, but this will help to spread the word a bit.
Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: peter horn on November 25, 2011, 01:17:15 PM
The Anglophile, Bill Bryson, spreads the word a bit in his book "Mother Tongue-The English language."

But describing KIng Arthur as 'semi-legendary' is only half true, if we take the term 'legendary' to mean fabulous or mythical. Also, his remark 'Many English place names are Celtic in origin (Avon and Thames, for instance)' depends on what is meant by 'many', and his examples are odd. Over most of England the place-names are over-whelmingly Anglo-Saxon. In the same paragraph he says 'the Celts left no more than twenty (words in the English language) mostly geographical terms to describe the more hilly and varied landscape' but makes no mention of river names, which are the most obvious examples.
I was particularly interested in his list of words which the Anglo-Saxons borrowed from the Romans before coming to Britain. He gives as examples the words street, pillow, wine, inch, mile, table and chest. and states 'the list of mundane items for which they lacked native terms underlines the poverty of their culture.' But I'm not too sure that the Anglo-Saxons did lack native words for these items. Consider the following:

street         Old English road/lane
pillow                 "         bolster
wine                  "         beer/ale (wine is a foreign drink)
inch                   "         finger (finger-breadth can be used as measurement)
mile                   "         furlong (used as measurement)
table                  "         board
chest                 "         This is the hardest to equate. Side board seems to come later and 'fodder' in
                                    the sense of boc-fodder (book case) is a bit obscure. But I find it hard to believe
                                    that the AS never had a word for a wooden box or chest.         

Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: Horsa on November 25, 2011, 06:15:56 PM
Once again, the fallacy of the impoverished Old English language rears its ugly head.

I don't think that the previous posts on Old English courses were off topic. Bowerthane (I think) gave the best answer to the question posed by the thread title, which is 'know your stuff'. There are certain drawbacks to this method, however. It works only on a one on one basis when gesithas come up against people who have, for whatever reasons, erroneous views on pre-conquest culture, and then only when they're receptive and willing to be put straight.

Someone with a good knowledge of Old English and its literature would not be able to assert that Old English was a 'primitive' impoverished language that needed loads of latin loans before anything interesting could be expressed. Also, someone who had a good knowledge of Old English would be able to identify Modern English words with an Old English derivation. So, another method would be to raise the profile of Old English and pre-conquest England. That is significantly more difficult; however, it is the mandate of the gesithas.

Lobbying to get pre-conquest history taught in schools and taught better in schools would be good. Making Old English language and literature more accessible would be another way. I've met quite a few people who've had an interest in learning old English who stop at the case system, which is fairly early if you're learning from Sweet. It is for those people that I am developing my internet based course.
Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: Horsa on November 25, 2011, 06:21:25 PM
wine                  "         beer/ale (wine is a foreign drink)

According to B&T, we also have líþ - , es; n. Strong drink :-- Ðá him ðæt líþ gescired wæs digesto vino, Past. 40, 4; Swt. 295, 6. Ðam men ðe hine ne lyst his metes ne líþes for the man that does not care for his meat or drink, L. M. 1, 19; Lchdm. ii. 62, 16. (http://www.bosworthtoller.com/finder/3/li%C3%BE)

I first came across the continental Saxon word for this in Heliand, which is regularly used to translate wine, and wondered if there was an Old English cognate. Wín is used a lot more than líþ.
Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: peter horn on November 28, 2011, 01:31:57 PM
wine                  "         beer/ale (wine is a foreign drink)

According to B&T, we also have líþ - , es; n. Strong drink :-- Ðá him ðæt líþ gescired wæs digesto vino, Past. 40, 4; Swt. 295, 6. Ðam men ðe hine ne lyst his metes ne líþes for the man that does not care for his meat or drink, L. M. 1, 19; Lchdm. ii. 62, 16. (http://www.bosworthtoller.com/finder/3/li%C3%BE)

I first came across the continental Saxon word for this in Heliand, which is regularly used to translate wine, and wondered if there was an Old English cognate. Wín is used a lot more than líþ.

Lith is sometimes used, as in 'Lith beor' equated with 'aqua mulsa'  Lith usually means smooth in these examples
(see my article on front page of main website)
Lith is also used with a number of different meanings, such as native win or fermented drink (see Clark Hall dict).
I dont think the AS had an OE term for wine; as soon as it was introduced it was it seems called wine
peter
Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: Horsa on November 29, 2011, 02:16:37 PM
That's a great article. Was it inspired by a thread on gegaderung (the old one? I can't find the thread on this new one)? It answered so many questions that I had about pre-conquest booze. Mind you, I still wonder if they brewed beer without boiling it.

I really like how it takes out the beor = cider theory. I never knew that England had no apples.

My point with lith is that the the English could have drafted the native term to refer to the new drink. Wine must have been different enough from what, blackberry wine? Crowberry wine? A drink doesn't have to be crazy different to get a new name - lager / beer. I get the impression that berries have a much lower sugar content than grapes, but I've never done a hydrometer test.

Also, I suppose the word may have been imported due to its cultural significance what with all the wine going on in the bible.

I'm not as good with old Saxon as I am with old English, but it seems that they use 'lith' a lot more often than they do in old English and they use it often to refer to wine. In fact I've only seen 'lith' in the B&T entry.

Now we really are off topic.
Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: peter horn on November 30, 2011, 12:57:48 PM
That's a great article. Was it inspired by a thread on gegaderung (the old one? I can't find the thread on this new one)? It answered so many questions that I had about pre-conquest booze. Mind you, I still wonder if they brewed beer without boiling it.

I really like how it takes out the beor = cider theory. I never knew that England had no apples.

My point with lith is that the the English could have drafted the native term to refer to the new drink. Wine must have been different enough from what, blackberry wine? Crowberry wine? A drink doesn't have to be crazy different to get a new name - lager / beer. I get the impression that berries have a much lower sugar content than grapes, but I've never done a hydrometer test.

Phil
It is based on lots of areas of research over the last 10 years. As a botanist it has always annoyed me to see the large amount of nonsense written about cider/apples/crab apples. But in order to refute the view that cider=beer, I had to examine the subject from various angles. All of them showed that beor was not cider.
Lith is harder to pin down. I think, but cannot prove it, that Lith prob means mild. We say today, or we used to say not that long ago, 'a pint of Mild'  Lith was certainly used by the AS to mean a weaker (less alcoholic?) form of drink. It is interesting to consider the AS Calendar where the summer months are called 'Litha."  I could never find any connection between Litha and the  moon. But here we are straying well away from the topic:)
peter















Also, I suppose the word may have been imported due to its cultural significance what with all the wine going on in the bible.

I'm not as good with old Saxon as I am with old English, but it seems that they use 'lith' a lot more often than they do in old English and they use it often to refer to wine. In fact I've only seen 'lith' in the B&T entry.

Now we really are off topic.
Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: Wulfric on December 15, 2011, 11:49:58 AM
Just a small thing to raise awareness of Old English,

Wish people a happy Yule or Yuletide and use the Wassail blessing. If they seem confused give them a suitable explanation.

It's not much and it won't change the world but it may get a few peoples attention and interest.

Wes thu Hal,

Wulfric.
Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: Jayson on December 22, 2011, 05:11:30 PM
----Wulfric:  I know what Wassail means, but what exactly is the Wassail Blessing?   BTW, I wish all my non-Christian friends a Glad Yule Tide.

Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: Wulfric on January 03, 2012, 01:37:45 PM
Hi Jayson,

I wasn't thinking of anything complicated, just that to wish someone well can be considered a blessing.

Wassail/Wes thu hal/Wesath ge hal have become my standard toast all year round but it's nice to know that orchards in the west country still go wassailing to bless their trees and bring on a good fruit for the following year.
Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: Norman Yoke on July 01, 2022, 12:44:41 PM
Lobbying to get pre-conquest history taught in schools and taught better in schools would be good.


I was having a look at the most popular topics in the history of the Gegaderung and came across this from a decade ago. I thought I'd revive it because I'm keen to know what people think the status of Old English is today, ten years on from when this was first discussed. Has anything changed for the better or for the worse? Have shows like Vikings and The Last Kingdom elevated the status of OE and/or pre-Conquest English history in the public imagination?


I quoted Horsa's post because for me, the curriculum in secondary schools in England is what has to change if OE is to gain in popularity. I work in secondary education and the National Curriculum stipulates that Key Stage 3 pupils (11-14 year olds) are to be taught British history from 1066-present day. Now, it does dictate that an aspect of pre-1066 history should be taught at some point, as well as incorporating world history, but essentially KS3 curriculums usually take a chronological approach, teaching 11 year olds 1066 and by the time they're 14 they'll be on to the Cold War. At GCSE level (14-16 year olds), Norman Conquest modules are among the most popular (see charts: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2020/jul/13/black-british-history-school-curriculum-england). However, these modules tend to set the scene of pre-Conquest England, before swiftly moving on to the Battle of Hastings and events thereafter.


There is thus a huge gap in the English school curriculum. Pre-1066 history is usually taught at primary school, including Anglo-Saxon England, Egyptians, Romans etc. Whilst this chronological approach makes sense in some regards, it essentially consigns pre-1066 history as "kiddie" history, whereas serious learning begins with the Normans.


Furthermore, and most crucially in my opinion, Anglo-Saxon England suffers most out of this neglect. Ancient Greek and Ancient Roman history find their home in the Classics/Latin curriculum. Now, whilst this subject isn't universally taught, it is ubiquitous enough that a student may have a decent chance as having this as an option when they enter secondary school. So Classics takes (British) history up to around AD400, and History begins from 1066 onwards. A c.600 year chunk of English history, including the re-Christianisation of England, Beowulf, Alfred's reign, Athelstan's forging of "England", Cnut's successful invasion, the foundation of our language etc., is completely passed over. I think there is one GCSE module (OCR?) that looks at Scandinavian/Viking history during this period, and that's your lot for AD400-1066.


It can of course be argued that many other aspects of British and world history have been passed over - but to me this is the most glaring and baffling. Is it a consequence of the Norman Yoke?


I have a career dream of creating an Old English GCSE/A-Level course, which (like Latin is) teaches the language through the history, literature and events of the time period. This would be one way to start plugging that enormous cavern between where Classics ends and History in this country begins in secondary education.
Title: Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
Post by: cynewulf on July 01, 2022, 06:08:15 PM
Completely agree with you. Heaven knows what administrative hoops one would have to through to get such a course off the ground. I'm sure the staff leading the ASNOC degree at Cambridge could give advice and support. 'If you will it, it is no dream' (Theodore Herzl).