Old English ÉngliscÆldgecynd 625 AD: Sutton Hoo helmet
Outline • Introduction: No living language stands still. Change is constant. • Part one: Old English origins (Preliminaries, a brief history of Old English.) The Anglo-Saxons language The Celts language The Picts language • Part two: Old English pronunciation Old English Grammar Some linguistic aspects of Old English • Sample texts of Old English: Homily on St. Gregory the Great Beowulf • List of references
Introduction • No living language keeps stagnant. • The Change is indiscernible. • Language manifests change under the aspects of borrowing and coinage. • English has witnessed four main stages of change: Old English (1000 (?) BC to 11th Century AD) Middle English (11th to 15th Century AD) Early Modern English (15th to 17th Century AD) Modern English (17th Century AD up till now)
Old English Origin • Old English is dead, extinct and no more spoken. • Old English is member of the West Germanic languages. • Early ancestors of Old English are: • Primitive Cumbric, Welsh and Cornish(6th century BC) • Ingvaeonic (100 AD) • Anglo-Frisian (300 AD)
Language tree http://www.danshort.com/ie/iecentum.htm
Old English originates from runic script called the Futhorc. • The Futhorc represents the language spoken by the Britons and Anglo-Saxons. • It contains twenty-four letters, thirty-one to thirty-four letters in northern England. • Most famous runic scripts are: The Ruthwell Cross The Franks Casket • The Insular Book Hand illustrates to the change of writing with the coming of Christian Missionaries. • Few runic letters have been adopted to represents Old English sounds: æ, þ, and ƿ.
Anglo-Saxon runes http://euroheritage.net
The Celts • The Celts were organized around warfare. • The Irish culture provides most information about the Celts and their language. • From around 750 BC to 12 BC, the Celts were the most powerful people in central and northern Europe. There were many groups (tribes) of Celts, speaking a vaguely common language. • Old Celtic, descendent of the Uralic languages, an Indo-European branch, was spoken by Celts, a close cousin to Italic, mother of Latin. • Q-celts spoke Goidelic. (2000 to 1200 BC), from which the Irish gwyddelsavages, later geídil and goidel. This language lacked the sound p and led to the formation of Gaelic. • P-celts were speaking Brythonic which gave raise to Welsh, Cornish and Breton spoken in Brittany. • The difference between Q-cets languages and P-celts languages is illustrated thus: • The word ekvos in Indo-European, means horse. In Q-Celtic this was rendered as equos while in P-Celtic it became epos, the q sound being replaced with a p sound. Another example is the Latin qui, who. In Q-Celtic this rendered as cia while in P-Celtic it rendered as pwy.
Map of Celtic speaking zone/ origin Source of the map:http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~irlkik/ihm/celts.htm
The Picts Languages • Pictish was similar to languages like Welsh, Gaulish and Gaelic. • The Picts spoke a non- Indo-European language dating back to the Bronze Age. • The Picts spoke a P-Celtic language - that is a Celtic language related to the language of the Ancient Britons. • Picts also spoke a Q-Celtic language that contained elements of Irish Gaelic. • The writing system known to be used by the Picts – Ogham – actually originated in Ireland.
Ogham inscription on the Lunnasting stone • The Pictich inscription has been read: • ttocuhetts: ahehhttmnnn: hccvvevv: nehhton by Allen and Anderson (1903) • ettecuhetts: ahehhttannn: hccvvevv: nehhtons by Forsyth (1996)
Old English Pronunciation • Old English pronunciation is not accurate. • No evidence is shown for intonation, pitch levels and stress. • These Old English letters are no more used in Modern form: æ, þand ð.
Old English Vowels • Long vowels: á áé é í ó ú ý bát, Cáf, lád (boat),(quick), (journey) báéd, fáé (bid), (doomed) fét, mé (fate), (me) tím, síd (time), (wide) cóm, gód (come), (good) hús, úhte (house), (twilight before dawn) fýr, sý (fire), (be) • Short vowels: a æ e i o u y batt, rand (bat), (boss) fæst, hæleð (fast), (warrior) bedd, denu (bed), (valley) rib, sitton (rib), (to sit) post, ofer (post), (over) pund, dust (pound), (ashes) yfel, fyrd (evil), (army) • Old English had a different quality for vowels from their modern equivalents. • There were seven vowels and fourteen distinct sounds. • Old English vowels extended to long vowels as different from short ones. The long vowels were used with a macron above the letter, emphasizing vowel length. • There were six diphthongs in Old English: ea, éa, eo, éo, ie, and íe.
Old English Consonants • Letter position Pronunciation • f initial and final position f • in middle of word v • beside unvoiced consonant f • doubled f • s initial and final position s • in middle of word z • beside unvoiced consonant s • doubled s • sc usually sh • þ or ð initial and final position th as in thin • in middle of word th as in that • beside unvoiced consonant th as in thin • doubled th as in thin • h initial and final position h • in middle of word X as in Loch • c in general k • before e, before i, after i ch as in church • g in general g as in garden • before e, before i, after i y as in yellow • in middle of word gh • cgusually j as in bridge • ng initial and final positiong as in finger
hwætwhat hwær where reod red grene green man human werman, secg man dæg day middæg midday æfansang evening nihte night þus thus oþþe or ofer over far travel ic I hé he him him nan none, no in in up up on on under under mann cyning beon willan don habban healdan þonne ænig eall woruld lif cuman gif næfre andswarian ham hell cwellan lufian Some Old English lexicon.
Old English verbs moved from ablaut to the system of inflection. Verbs were divided into two sets: strong verbs and weak verbs. Strong verbs could not easily be predicted from their counterparts, weak verbs. There were seven classes of conjugation for strong verbs where the variation of the verb endings require four principle parts: the infinitive past tense first-person singular past tense plural the past participle Examples: First class verbs: drífan, dráf, drifon, drifen (drive) rísan, rás, rison, risen (rise) bídan, bád, bidon, biden (abide) Second class verbs: dréopan, dréap, drupon, dropen (drip) slúpan, sléap, slupon, slopen (slip) léogan, léag, lugon, logen (lie) Third class verbs: helpan, healp, hulpon, holpen (help) beorcan, bearc, burcon, burcen (bark) drincan, dranc, druncon, druncen (drink) Fourth class verbs: stelan, stæl, stáélon, stolen (steal) beran, bær, báéron, boren (bear) Fifth class verbs: sprecan, spæc, spéácon, sprecen (speak) awrecan, awræc, awréácon, awrecen (recite) Sixth class verbs: wascan, wósc, wóscon, wascen (wash), faran, fór, fóron, færen (go) Seventh class verbs: láétan, lét, léton, láéten (let) feallan, féoll, féollon, feallen (fall) bláwan, bléow, bléowon, bláwen (blow) Old English Grammar
Some linguistic aspects of Old English • Grimm’s LawVoiceless stops 'p', 't', and 'k' became voiceless fricatives 'f', 'þ' Latin: piscis to Old English: fisc (fish). genu to Old English: cnéow (knee). • Verner’s LawChanges in stress where vowels became voiced if the stress follows or precedes the fricative. sníðan (cut) are not sníðan, snaþ, sniþon, sniþen, but instead sníðán, snáþ, snidón, snidén. • PalatalUmlaut A vowel in one syllable affects the vowel in a preceding syllable. ú to ý, as in túnian to týnan u to y, as in trummian to trymman ó to é, as in dómian to déman o to e, as in morgin to mergen Velar Umlautfront vowels 'i', 'e', and 'æ' were shifted into diphthongs 'io', 'eo', and 'ea' by the presence of a back vowel ('u', 'o', or 'a') in the next syllable. wer becomes weoras • GeminationRefers to the development of doubled consonants in Old English. All single consonants except 'r' preceded by a short vowel doubled in length and added a palatal. dag became dæg • Dental AssimilationReferred to the process by which a voiced sound, followed by an unvoiced ending, would lose voice itself. For example, findst to fintst.
“Eft he axode, hu ðære ðeode nama wære þe hi of comon. Him wæs geandwyrd, þæt hi Angle genemnode wæron. Þa cwæð he, “Rihtlice hi sind Angle gehatene, for ðan ðe hi engla wlite habbað, ond swilcum gedafenað þæt hi on heofonum engla geferan beon.” “Again he [St. Gregory] asked what might be the name of the people from which they came. It was answered to him that they were named Angles. Then he said, “Rightly are they called Angles because they have the beauty of angels, and it is fitting that such as they should be angels’ companions in heaven.” Aelfric’s “Homily on St. Gregory the Great.”
hwæt we gardena in geardagum þeodcyninga þrym gefrunon hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon oft scyld scefing sceaþena þreatum monegum mægþum meodosetla ofteah egsode eorlas syððan ærest wearð feasceaft funden he þæs frofre gebad weox under wolcnum, weorðmyndum þah oðþæt him æghwylc þær ymbsittendra ofer hronrade hyran scolde gomban gyldan þæt wæs god cyning Lo, praise of the prowess of people-kings of spear-armed Danes, in days long sped, we have heard, and what honour the athelings won! Oft Scyld the Scefing from squadroned foes, from many a tribe, the mead-bench tore, awing the earls. Since erst he lay, friendless, a foundling, fate repaid him: for he waxed under welkin, in wealth he throve, till before him the folk, both far and near, who house by the whale-path, heard his mandate, gave him gifts: a good king he! Translation by Francis Gummere (1910). Beowulf
JRR Tolkein • John Ronald Reuel (JRR) Tolkien, born on January 1892. • Tolkien attended Exeter College, Oxford, beginning near the end of 1911 as a “Classical Exhibitioner in Residence”. • Tolkien soon landed a position as a junior editor for the Oxford English Dictionary. • During this period he also began to seriously develop the languages of the elves of Middle Earth, languages based in Anglo-Saxon, Welsh, and Finnish roots. • In 1921, Tolkien was offered a post at the University of Leeds and collaborated with E.V. Gordon on an acclaimed translation of the Middle-English poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, published by Oxford University Press in 1925.
References • The Anglo-Saxon Language: • http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A695478 • http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Celtic_languages • The Picts Language: • http://www.experiencefestival.com/picts_-_pictish_language • http://en.allexperts.com/e/p/pi/pictish_language.htm • http://www.orkneyjar.com/history/picts/language.htm • Beowulf: Anonymous. "Beowulf". • [http://www.georgetown.edu/labyrinth/library/oe/texts/a4.1.html]. February 1, 2002. (Original Anglo-Saxon text.) • Grendel's Lair. "Grendel's Lair: Beowulf". • [http://www.grendel.org/grendel/beowulf.html]. February 1, 2002. • http://www.tolkiensociety.org/ • The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles translated and edited by Michael Swanton (Phoenix Press, 2000) • Marckwardt, Albert H. Old English Language and Literature. New York: Norton & Company, 1972. • http://www.edwardtbabinski.us/geocentrism/mt_ararat.html • The Origin of Old English dialects revisited, Frederik Kortlandt, an aritcle.
Ic eornost gescéadnest þancian þu for éowerágnettung • I do truly thank you for your attention. Fayssal Chafaki