Questions dealing with Old English, i.e. the language of the Anglo-Saxons up to about 1150.

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13
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5answers
7k views

Is it true that the 100 most common English words are all Germanic in origin?

There is an oft-quoted statement that the 100 most common (frequently used) words in the English language are entirely Germanic/Anglo-Saxon in origin. (Also sometimes said is that ~80% of the 1000 ...
-2
votes
0answers
63 views

Old English word for “lonely”

What Old English (and by Old English I mean the language of Anglo-Saxons, recorded in written works from VII to X century A.D.) adjective is the most appropriate to describe the feeling of loneliness ...
6
votes
4answers
385 views

Do Old English dialects correspond well with modern English ones?

I came across this article the other day. At the bottom there's a family tree of English dialects, both extant and extinct ones. It makes it out that southern English dialects came from Wessax ...
29
votes
4answers
53k views

Why are there two pronunciations for “either”?

A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with an individual who told me that pronouncing the word "either" is wrong when pronounced like \ˈī-thər\ instead of \ˈē-thər\ , but I didn't argue the point ...
2
votes
1answer
30 views

is ye a subject or object or either, and can it be before or after or either?

Is Ye a subject, or an object, or either? And would it go before a verb, or after a verb, or either? For example Seek Ye A) is 'Seek Ye' valid. B) if so, is Ye the subject, as in, ...
1
vote
1answer
28 views

What do we call a “manuscript expert”?

Someone (in most cases an academic) who is well-rounded in the field of ancient manuscripts, with solid training in history and/or literature, one or more ancient languages, paleography, and ...
1
vote
2answers
44 views

what does “I shall not want” mean? [closed]

Consider this part of bible : 23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. I was wondering the meaning of second sentence, I shall not want. This is not clear to me the reference to the verb want and ...
0
votes
1answer
37 views

Description of a Plum [closed]

Im looking for a word that describes a Plum in a kinaesthetic/kinesthetic way. Can be very artistic or unusual.
0
votes
1answer
207 views

Alternatives to “knowledge” and “gnosis” for words meaning “science” but with Germanic or Greek roots? [closed]

What are the closest synonyms for science with Germanic or Greek roots? Knowledge (Germanic) seems too shallow, and gnosis (Greek) too mystical.
4
votes
2answers
241 views

Do the words with non-palatalized pronunciation of g/c (“get”, “give”) always have a Germanic origin?

In English, ge/gi is sometimes pronounced as [ge]/[gi], but mostly as [dʒe]/[dʒi]. The second form is explained as palatalization in the topic What is the origin of the different pronunciations of C ...
14
votes
5answers
10k views

Etymology of “Easter”

I’ve heard claims that the word Easter has the same Bronze Age root as east, Ishtar, Astarte, and ultimately star. Is this the correct etymology of the word Easter?
2
votes
2answers
119 views

How did English end up with names for days of the week like Monday, borrowed from latin but then also translated?

Learning about the origin of English names for days of the week, I found it it curious that some of them had an original meaning borrowed from Latin, but the words themselves were a translation. So ...
15
votes
3answers
3k views

What is the history of adding the a- prefix to form words?

I have always found the a- prefix to words (as in anew, ajar, aside, awake, afoot, a-hunting, etc.) fascinating. The NOAD says on this topic: a- 2. prefix •to; toward : aside | ashore. ...
12
votes
2answers
152 views

What did English use before “triangle”?

Apparently the word "triangle" was borrowed into English in the late 1300s. Triangles are a very common shape in everyday life, and there were certainly English-speaking craftsmen and artists before ...
3
votes
1answer
74 views

What's the longest word that has survived from Old English?

I recently saw this question Did the "We shall fight on the beaches" speech mainly use words from Old English? If so, why? about Winston Churchill's famous "Fight them on the beaches" speech ...
20
votes
3answers
1k views

/ð/ → /d/ shift in English

As a result of a /d/ → /ð/ shift, fæder became father, hider became hither and togædere became together, giving us our modern English forms. However, I know that murder and burden have archaic forms- ...
3
votes
2answers
88 views

Origin of -(e)s in present indicative third singular

I'm aware that it comes from a Northern dialect of Middle English as in: He sing(e)s With the full Northern conjugation being: Ik sing(e) Þu/ou sing(e)s He sing(e)s We/ye/they sings But in Old English ...
7
votes
4answers
3k views

Did the “We shall fight on the beaches” speech mainly use words from Old English? If so, why?

I read today that Churchill's "We shall fight on the beaches" speech mainly used words from Old English. Wikipedia's article states that Melvyn Bragg claimed in "The Adventure of English" that only ...
1
vote
2answers
60 views

How did 'of' change semantically from 'away, away from, off'?

of (prep.) [⇐] Old English of, unstressed form of æf (prep., adv.) "away, away from," from Proto-Germanic *af, [...], from PIE *apo- "off, away" (see apo-). Primary sense in Old English still ...
3
votes
1answer
151 views

'lest': How did 'less that' evolve to mean 'for fear that'?

lest, conj. = [OED] Etymology: Old English phrase þý lǽs þe , lit. ‘whereby less’ = Latin quōminus (þý instrumental of the demonstrative and relative pronoun + lǽs less adj. + þe ...
24
votes
2answers
5k views

Why don't English nouns have grammatical gender?

English nouns — other than those with natural gender, e.g. people or animals — do not generally have grammatical gender, and so are referred to as 'it' rather than 'he' or 'she'. However, modern ...
6
votes
3answers
152 views

'Parasitic' Phonemes

In searching for the reason for the message -> messenger shift, I came across the theory of the 'parasitic n.' Essentially, the idea is that during the post-Norman Conquests period in England, ...
5
votes
1answer
162 views

Why did Old English use C while other Germanic languages used K?

During most the first millennium CE, North and West Germanic languages were written in runic alphabets. Gradually, each language shifted from the runic alphabet to the Latin alphabet. The people who ...
1
vote
2answers
124 views

What is the grammatical designation of “that” in “…that she may have…”?

The following sentence is the Modern English translation of a line from the Old English poem Judith: He (God) advanced a gracious favour to her, that she may have a steadfast faith. My question ...
12
votes
2answers
423 views

Silent “e” at the end of words

Back in 2009, a job interviewer sent me a link to a web service that would help me make a free telephone call via the internet... Skype. As a native speaker, I knew "instinctively" to pronounce this ...
3
votes
0answers
25 views

When was the “do form” introduced in the English language? [duplicate]

The following might be standard textbook question, but not being a native speaker I am unaware of the origin. In ancient English, as well as in other Germanic languages, questions were posed ...
9
votes
1answer
244 views

Latin words borrowed from Roman occupation?

English has a lot of words borrowed from Latin. The great majority were borrowed in the 14- and 1500's from Church/Medieval Latin, a huge influx via educated neologism. I'd like to know if there are ...
6
votes
3answers
24k views

“Ph” for the /f/ sound; Is Old English responsible for this swap?

Is Old English responsible for creating the /f/ sound from ph, as in Philip, Pharoah, Physics, Sophia, etc? Many European countries keep the f for all of their /f/-sounding letters, as in Sofia and ...
1
vote
0answers
54 views

How are Old English participles declined to English participles? (both present and past)

I'm trying to learn about differences between English and Old English, and I found that there are some noticeable differences in the use of participle markings. I think that participles were declined ...
0
votes
2answers
152 views

When was “it” first used in weather sentences? [duplicate]

It is raining. It's a sunny day. I hate it when it rains. I'm prepared if it snows. It can be mighty cold at night! ... etc. My questions: When did English speakers start ...
0
votes
0answers
20 views

How are Old English participles declened to English participles? (both present and past) [duplicate]

I'm trying to learn about differences between English and Old English and I found that there are some noticeable differences in the use of participle markings. I think historically, there had been the ...
1
vote
4answers
867 views

Why are words like “Thou” and “Thee” no longer used in English?

When going through old English literature, especially stories and poems, we can see they have been full of words like "thou" and "thee" etc. Some of my English teachers told me that they were used ...
1
vote
1answer
50 views

What's a Winnie?

In the song The Virginia Company at the beggining of the film Pocahontas, in the last verse a Winnie is mentioned in the line: With a nugget for my winnie and another one for me. What is a Winnie?
32
votes
4answers
3k views

Did the English call a fruit “openærs” for 700 years?

There is a small apple-tasting fruit called medlar in English. It looks like a cross between an apple and a rosehip. It has two main curious features: first the fruit must be bletted before it can ...
2
votes
1answer
67 views

The meaning of the MIDDLE ENGLISH “nother”

Very specific expertise is required here. The schoolmaster "shall not teche his scolers song nor other petite lernyng, as the crosse rewe, redyng of the mateyns or for the psalter or such ...
11
votes
4answers
1k views

Why “English” but not “Anglish”?

Etymology of English from Etymonline: Old English Englisc (contrasted to Denisc, Frencisce, etc.), from Engle (plural) "the Angles," the name of one of the Germanic groups that overran the island ...
3
votes
1answer
147 views

Conventions in Old English for use of thorn and eth

Somewhere I got the naive idea that, in Old English, thorn represented the unvoiced "th" sound and eth represented the voiced "th" sound. A little digging has suggested to me that each of the ...
9
votes
3answers
769 views

What did Old English use Ꝥ for?

Here are some examples of citations in the OED of Old English where they use a standalone crossed thorn, Ꝥ: Þu aclænsast Ꝥ weofod and ʒehalʒast. Þær after com swulke mon-qualm Ꝥ lute hær ...
7
votes
2answers
141 views

Is the -old morpheme in 'threshold' an OE locative?

I remember in days of yore being told by a professor that threshold held the meaning of "stepping (or more literally, treading) through," implying a locative sense to the remaining -old morpheme. ...
2
votes
5answers
2k views

Which version of English influenced the other? British / American

I remember hearing that modern American English is more similar to Old English than modern British English, due to rural British influences. Is modern American English a more accurate representation ...
3
votes
3answers
795 views

Answering a negative question with one word

There has been talk of how to answer a negative question without ambiguity, most often with a qualifying phrase needed for clarification. (For example, "yes, I do"/"no, I don't.) I've noticed that ...
1
vote
0answers
47 views

For 'also', how is ' the demonstrative sense of “similarly” weakened to “in addition to” '?

also (adv.) Old English eallswa "just as, even as, as if, so as, likewise," compound of all + so. The demonstrative sense of "similarly" weakened to "in addition to" in 12c., replacing eke. ...
0
votes
2answers
74 views

How did “but” mean “only”?

but (adv., prep.) : Old English butan, buton "unless, except; without, outside," [...] I don't know Old English. From the étymons overhead, how did but change semantically to mean but ...
0
votes
1answer
126 views

Single word for “how many” [closed]

Is there a way to say "how many" in a single word? (even something in Old English should be good enough)
0
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1answer
81 views

How did 'against the outside' (without) evolve to mean 'outside'?

without (adv., prep.) [<--] Old English wiðutan "outside of, from outside," literally "against the outside" (opposite of within), see with + out (adv.). [...] I am guessing that here, ...
2
votes
1answer
170 views

Byname or patronymic names for daughters?

Bynames in various texts and genealogies include the suffix -ing to indicate the son of. Example would be Cynric son of Cerdic written as Cynric Cerdicing. Was there a similar practice for daughter's ...
17
votes
2answers
2k views

How was the letter -u- written in Old English?

I was reading the etymology for 'come (v.)' when I encountered: [...] The substitution of Middle English -o- for Old English -u- before -m-, -n-, or -r- was a scribal habit before minims to avoid ...
19
votes
2answers
3k views

Was the “Ye Olde Shoppe” ever used or is it just an ancient-looking construct of modern times?

Surely, if I were the owner of a shop selling archery goods and wanted to portray my shop as some kind of old-fashioned, high-quality traditional outlet, I might be tempted to call it “Ye Olde Archery ...
0
votes
1answer
133 views

Has the English language changed since 1854? [closed]

I've started reading a book named Walden, published in 1854. I am not a native English speaker, I am Persian, and I want to read this book for two reasons: to improve my English and because I think ...
1
vote
1answer
562 views

Is English considered easier to learn than most of the other languages in the world? [closed]

In comparison to the other languages, I think English is much more simpler. For example, compared to French, English nouns have no gender, adjectives have only one form and verbs have extremely simple ...