Leornian ealdspræc Saxonum-Anglisc

Discussion in 'The Observation Bar' started by Benny Holiday, Aug 16, 2017.

  1. Benny Holiday

    Benny Holiday My Mail is Forwarded Here

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    For something different, a bit of a challenge with history involved, I became fascinated with the language of my forebears - Old English. Not Shakespeare's English, though filtering some of Old English through the language as it was spoken in Elizabethan times can help you understand it better , and not even Chaucer's Middle English, this is the language of the Angles and Saxons who migrated to Britain in the fifth and sixth centuries AD.

    Echoes of OE can be heard in dialects in Yorkshire and the Scottish borders today, and of course in our modern English, at least one third of which is derived from OE. The rest of our modern version has been altered by Danish and Nordic words courtesy of Viking invasions, French via the Normans, and Latin from the Romans through to the medieval church.

    It is, from what I've read, of some similarity to Frisian and Dutch, the Saxons coming from that region originally. As a novice learner (leornere), it takes a bit to get used to the grammatical gender with nouns and verbs, and the different cases for nouns we don't use in modern English.

    I'm currently reading a couple of guides by Mary K Savelli after kicking off some web research a couple of months ago. Poems and epic sagas like the famous Beowulf sound amazing in the old language. I find it amazing to hear how the language evolved and how, in some ways, we haven't changed that much at all in our speaking in 1200 years (of course, on other ways we've changed a lot!).

    I wonder if anyone else on the Lounge has such an interest in old languages as well?
     
    Edward likes this.
  2. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

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    Renewing acquaintance with schoolboy Latin. Purchased Reginald Foster's opus The Mere Bones of Latin, and will give this a five-year go soon.
    Foster retired from, I believe, the Carmelite order and now resides in Milwaukee where he still teaches. Foster is considered the foremost Latinist in the world,
    and his summer session greatly appeals to my vagabond academic nature.:)
     
    Edward and ChiTownScion like this.
  3. Haversack

    Haversack One Too Many

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    Although not Old English, the science fiction author, (albeit with a degree in physics), Poul Anderson wrote an essay on atomic theory entitled Uncleftish Beholding in which he used only words of germanic descent. This was a thought-piece exploring what English might have looked like without words from Latin, Greek, or French.
     
  4. Benny Holiday

    Benny Holiday My Mail is Forwarded Here

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    I like that phrase Harp, "vagabond academic nature"!

    I had a look at Uncleftish Beholding and it is very cleverly written!
     
  5. Benzadmiral

    Benzadmiral Call Me a Cab

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    "Clever" is an understatement when it comes to Poul Anderson. He wrote both hard science fiction and fantasy, and is one of those authors where you learn something new every time you read him.

    I like Latin, though I've never formally studied it. It has a sonorous quality that you don't get often from English. "In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritu Sancti" sounds much more impressive, somehow, than the English. In the movie Dragonslayer, for example, the "magic" language used by the sorcerer is plain ol' Vulgar Latin.

    Just a guess: Is the title of this thread "Learn to Speak Anglo-Saxon"?
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2017
  6. Benny Holiday

    Benny Holiday My Mail is Forwarded Here

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    Yeah that's pretty much it Benzadmiral, "Learning the old speech of Saxon English".

    Latin, like the French, Italian, and Spanish languages it inspired, sounds more fluid to English-speaking ears, in general.

    What is fascinating, to me, is the words and phrases in Old English that survive today. For example, in Old English there is the word fare (fah-re - the 'r' is rolled like the Scots pronounce their 'r's), which means 'go'. The simple phrase Hu færest þu? (sound hoo fa-rest thoo?) is the same as saying how are you going? The reply might be Ic fare wel (Itsch fah-re wel), I go well. But the word 'fare' continues today in English in 'farewell', literally go well', only we pronounce it 'fair well'.

    Another example is the parting phrase Beo gesund (bay-oh yessoond) which sounds rather exotic until you break it down through Shakepeare's English to Be ye sound; literally "stay healthy." The very roots of how we think about English are there.
     
  7. ChiTownScion

    ChiTownScion Call Me a Cab

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    Latin was my high school default language: I was enrolled in it automatically. I could have- perhaps SHOULD have- opted for German, but I fell for the old "if you're gonna be a lawyer you should know Latin" line. German would have been more useful, and French... well, not knowing it when I was single and encountered drop- dead gorgeous Quebecoise ladies in Montreal was far more of a burden than any chance encounters with centurions might prove.
     
  8. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

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    Res ipsa loquitur. In a moment of temporary college freshman insanity, I registered for an eight-thirty German and it was a struggle.
    French, Latin earlier; though I failed to appreciate the wonder of either, the keys to the kingdom language study gifts.
     
    ChiTownScion likes this.

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