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Thread: Old English

  1. #1
    Satyavrata Maciamo's Avatar
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    Arrow Old English

    Have you ever wondered what old "English" (the Anglo-saxon's language of the 5th century) looked or sounded like ?

    Check this (click on audio to hear it with Real Player) : http://www.ucalgary.ca/UofC/eduweb/e...s/ohthfram.htm

    Old English had declinations and conjugation like in German and Latin. The structure of the sentence was very much like German or Dutch now. However, as it does not contain any words of Latin origin, it is almost completely ununderstandable. I wonder if Scandinavians could comprehend it a bit better (any around on the forum ?). I can recognise a few words like twentig (twenty), land, wintra (winter), sumera (summer), etc. Some are still the same as in German or Dutch : lang (long), weg (way)....


    Find out more here (there are full lessons of Old English !) : http://orb.rhodes.edu/textbooks/OEindex.html

    This link is for the History of English : http://ebbs.english.vt.edu/hel/hel.html
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  2. #2
    Unswerving bicyclist thomas's Avatar
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    Interesting link! I'm listening to the text as I write these lines. Sounds like Danish or Swedish.

  3. #3
    Satyavrata Maciamo's Avatar
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    I'd like to recommend 2 books (choose of of them as they are from the same author and thence similar) :

    The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language

    and the new, more concise The English Language

    both by David Crystal.

    They are wonderfully instructive about the origin of English as well as the different way English is spoken round the world.

  4. #4
    Regular Member kuchi's Avatar
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    " I wonder if Scandinavians could comprehend it a bit better" lol we cant...even a scottsman would be confused too some degree.
    -wisdom is being able to entertain an idea without accepting it-

  5. #5
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    5th century = old-saxon. "English" as a name of a language is not appropriate linguistically before at least the 9th century, and even then, it's a very english-friendly tradition to call english of the 9th century "old english". Old-low-saxon is the common ancester of english, low-german (thus dutch) and frisian. It is actually quite different from the scandinavian languages of the time (look at Icelandic to get an idea). High-german derivated from low-german (thus low-saxon) in the 7th century.

    Old english (old-low-saxon) is the same periode as middel-high-german (1100-1250) and old-norse (also called old-icelandic). It is confusing, because old-high-german is older than old-low-saxon, the latter being a much longer periode of time.

    Only a scandinavian with solid knowledge of old-icelandic would comprehend old-english to a greater extend than any other mortal. And they are not that many.

  6. #6
    Regular Member bossel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ElieDeLeuze
    5th century = old-saxon. "English" as a name of a language is not appropriate linguistically before at least the 9th century, and even then, it's a very english-friendly tradition to call english of the 9th century "old english". Old-low-saxon is the common ancester of english, low-german (thus dutch) and frisian. It is actually quite different from the scandinavian languages of the time (look at Icelandic to get an idea). High-german derivated from low-german (thus low-saxon) in the 7th century.

    Old english (old-low-saxon) is the same periode as middel-high-german (1100-1250) and old-norse (also called old-icelandic). It is confusing, because old-high-german is older than old-low-saxon, the latter being a much longer periode of time.
    Old English is a valid linguistic term covering all Anglo-Saxon dialects spoken in England prior to 1066. The Old English period covers roughly the time from 449 (1st written documents ~700) to 1100. The beginnings of the change into Middle English (another collective term) can be sought in the 9th century, the time of the Danelaw.

    High German did not derive from Low German. Old (~800-1100) & Middle (~1100-1300, latest documents in the 16th century) High German denote the German dialects spoken in upper Germany at that time. Modern High German is derived mainly from some dialects spoken in the middle part of Germany.

    Here are 2 nice language trees:

    http://www.georgetown.edu/faculty/ballc/oe/oe-ie.html
    http://softrat.home.mindspring.com/g....html#treeofge

  7. #7
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    Of course the Brits use Old-English as a valid linguistical term !!! It's a political issue, not linguistical.
    If you don't like the simple way of putting it "High-german derivated from low-german (thus low-saxon) in the 7th century" just say that they both derivated from a common ancestor from which low german differs much less than high-german. The specific changes in low-german that makes it different of the common ancestor of low- and high-german are so few, that you are being very dishonnest by just writing a totally unargumented "High German did not derive from Low German".

    How old are people here? 16?

  8. #8
    Hentai Koutaishi Lina Inverse's Avatar
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    I'm having some difficulties understanding it as well... a few words are similar to German, but not too much.
    I had a page once that had a reconstructed Germanic as the source language of later Germanic languages (German, English etc.), but I can't find it anymore
    Has anyone links that go in that direction?

  9. #9
    Regular Member bossel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ElieDeLeuze
    Of course the Brits use Old-English as a valid linguistical term !!! It's a political issue, not linguistical.
    If you don't like the simple way of putting it "High-german derivated from low-german (thus low-saxon) in the 7th century" just say that they both derivated from a common ancestor from which low german differs much less than high-german. The specific changes in low-german that makes it different of the common ancestor of low- and high-german are so few, that you are being very dishonnest by just writing a totally unargumented "High German did not derive from Low German".

    How old are people here? 16?
    Why is age important? Do you eg. think 16-year-olds can't have a valid opinion?

    I wasn't talking of "Brits" using the term Old English, but of linguistics. I study English in Germany, & the term is common usage here. If you have a political issue there, very well. I don't.

    Unargumented? Well, you didn't put much effort into making "High-german derivated from low-german (thus low-saxon) in the 7th century[sic]" well argumented.
    Old Saxon = OS (Old Low German) covers pretty much the same time as Old High German = OHG.
    OS didn't go through the 2nd sound shift, which OHG did. This is probably what you refer to when you say that OHG differs more from the common ancestor.

    Speaking about dis-honesty: What you forgot to mention is that even before the 2nd sound shift there was differentiation. West-Germanic can be broken up into at least 3 major branches: Istvaeones (Weser-Rheingermanen), Irminones (Elbgermanen) and Ingvaeones (Nordseegermanen). There must have been a common ancestor somewhere, but it probably was long before 500, when the 2nd sound shift started.

  10. #10
    Hentai Koutaishi Lina Inverse's Avatar
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    High German never derived from low-saxon, the two are quite different and only have a common ancestor, that's it. English did not derive from low-saxon either.

    The original Proto-Germanic (which descended from Indo-European) is divided into three different sub-families:
    - East Germanic
    Only Gothic belonged to this family, which is nearly extinct now except for a few speakers in the Ukraine.
    - North Germanic
    This are all the Scandinavian languages which are further divided into East Scandinavian (Danish-Bokmal and Swedish) and West Scandinavian (Norwegian-Nynorsk, Icelandic et al.)
    - West Germanic
    This is also further divided into several sub-families again:
    - English
    English and Scots goes here, among some dialects.
    - Frisian
    West Frisian (spoken in Northern Holland) and North+Eastfrisian, spoken in Northern Germany.
    - High German
    This encompasses the later German languages (Middle German and High German) as well as Yiddish (Western and Eastern)
    - Low-Saxon/Low-Franconian
    This divides into Low-Franconian (to which Dutch, Afrikaans and Vlaams belong) and Low-Saxon, to which the later Low-Saxonian, Plattdeutsch (Plautdietsch) and several dialects belong.

    So that you can better see the dependencies, I'll post the official language tree below (taken from Ethnologue)

    Code:
    Indo-European  (443)
    Germanic (58)
    East (1)
    Gothic  [Gof] (Ukraine)
    North (14)
    East Scandinavian (8)
    Danish-Swedish (8)
    Danish-Bokmal (4)
    Swedish (4)
    West Scandinavian (6)
    Faroese  [Fae] (Denmark)
    Icelandic  [Ice] (Iceland)
    Jamska  [Jmk] (Sweden)
    Norn  [Non] (United Kingdom)
    Norwegian, Nynorsk  [Nrn] (Norway)
    Traveller Norwegian  [Rmg] (Norway)
    West (43)
    English (5)
    Cayman Islands English  [Cye] (Cayman Islands)
    English  [Eng] (United Kingdom)
    Angloromani  [Rme] (United Kingdom)
    Scots  [Sco] (United Kingdom)
    Yinglish  [Yib] (Usa)
    Frisian (3)
    Frisian, Western  [Fri] (Netherlands)
    Frisian, Northern  [Frr] (Germany)
    Frisian, Eastern  [Frs] (Germany)
    High German (19)
    German (17)
    Frankish  [Frk] (Germany)
    Middle German (8)
    Upper German (8)
    Yiddish (2)
    Yiddish, Eastern  [Ydd] (Israel)
    Yiddish, Western  [Yih] (Germany)
    Low Saxon-Low Franconian (16)
    Low Franconian (3)
    Afrikaans  [Afk] (South Africa)
    Dutch  [Dut] (Netherlands)
    Vlaams  [Vla] (Belgium)
    Low Saxon (13)
    Achterhoeks  [Act] (Netherlands)
    Drents  [Drt] (Netherlands)
    Gronings  [Gos] (Netherlands)
    Plautdietsch  [Grn] (Canada)
    Sallands  [Snk] (Netherlands)
    Stellingwerfs  [Stl] (Netherlands)
    Saxon, Low  [Sxn] (Germany)
    Twents  [Twd] (Netherlands)
    Veluws, East  [Vee] (Netherlands)
    Veenkoloniaals  [Vek] (Netherlands)
    Veluws, North  [Vel] (Netherlands)
    Westphalien  [Wep] (Germany)
    Westerwolds  [Wev] (Netherlands)

  11. #11
    カメハメ波! Glenn's Avatar
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    So American English is "Yinglish," eh? Interesting.

  12. #12
    Regular Member bossel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glenn
    So American English is "Yinglish," eh? Interesting.
    Nope, Yinglish is some mixture of English & Yiddish:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yinglish

    Wouldn't call this Ethnologue language tree "official", BTW. Different versions of such language trees exist (it's not even necessarily a "tree") & are adapted as new research is done.

    The Goths were not the only East Germanic tribe, but the only one from which we have written evidence of its language. Another famous EG tribe were the Vandals, & there were more.

  13. #13
    カメハメ波! Glenn's Avatar
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    Oh, thank you bossel. I appreciate the info.

  14. #14
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    That's a really interesting link. I'd love to do something like that at University.

  15. #15
    Hentai Koutaishi Lina Inverse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bossel
    The Goths were not the only East Germanic tribe, but the only one from which we have written evidence of its language. Another famous EG tribe were the Vandals, & there were more.
    I know, besides the Goths, there were the Vandals, the Burgundians, the Lombardians, the Rugians, the Herulians, the Bastarnaes and the Scirians. However, their languages are assumed to have been all very similar, so they were probably just minor dialects of Gothic and not languages by themselves.

  16. #16
    Regular Member bossel's Avatar
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    Minor dialects of Gothic? Hmm?
    We simply don't know, for the only written evidence we have is Gothic. All others are virtually unknown.
    I think, one Roman scholar wrote about Vandalic & Gothic being very similar. That may have been at a time when they were all still living in Eastern Europe. With the Vlkerwanderung at the latest the languages very probably separated. For what I know at least Burgundian, Vandalic & Gothic are considered distinct (East Germanic) languages, there may be others.
    But again, this is more or less guess work (or extrapolation). We don't know.

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