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Author Topic: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?  (Read 40862 times)

David Cowley

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Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
« Reply #30 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!

peter horn

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Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
« Reply #31 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.

Georius - JB

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Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
« Reply #32 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.)

Horsa

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Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
« Reply #33 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.

Georius - JB

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Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
« Reply #34 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.
« Last Edit: October 02, 2011, 01:39:03 PM by Georius - JB »

David Cowley

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Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
« Reply #35 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!!

Georius - JB

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Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
« Reply #36 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! :)
« Last Edit: October 05, 2011, 10:02:06 PM by Georius - JB »

David Cowley

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Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
« Reply #37 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.

Georius - JB

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Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
« Reply #38 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.
« Last Edit: October 06, 2011, 06:06:21 PM by Georius - JB »

Horsa

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Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
« Reply #39 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.

David Cowley

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Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
« Reply #40 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.

Wulfric

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Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
« Reply #41 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.

Bowerthane

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Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
« Reply #42 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.



leofwin

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Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
« Reply #43 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...

peter horn

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Re: How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?
« Reply #44 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.