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

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Why is “on” not used in “…given under my hand this x day of y of z”?

The legal documents generally use an expression like: ...given under my hand this x day of y of z. I always wonder why is "on" between "my hand" and "this" missing in the expression? I have ...
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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 ...
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1answer
34 views

Meaning of 'to put sth. under the mind for sth.'

I found the following phrase when reading Ralph W. Emerson's The Poet: The world being thus put under the mind for verb and noun, the poet is he who can articulate it. I am not entirely sure ...
14
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1answer
639 views

What was “static electricity” known as before the discovery of electricity?

People must have dealt with static electrical discharge for thousands of years; well before they began to understand the principles of electricity. What would a static discharge be called in early ...
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1answer
44 views
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1answer
117 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 ...
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3answers
26k 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 ...
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2answers
106 views

What's Old English for “petal”?

What was the Old English word for petal? (As in "rose petal".) I've done research. And it seems the word petal is a relatively recent addition in the English language.
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1answer
113 views

Meaning and etymology of Middlesex

What is the meaning of Middlesex? I read somewhere that seax is an old English word meaning a type of Germanic knife, so was the county's original name Middleseax? I'm looking for the etymology of ...
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4answers
394 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 English,...
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4answers
59k 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 ...
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1answer
40 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, you(plural)...
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1answer
34 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 ...
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2answers
49 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 ...
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1answer
38 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.
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1answer
228 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.
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2answers
248 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 ...
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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?
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2answers
128 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 ...
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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. •...
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2answers
176 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 ...
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1answer
101 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 ...
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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- ...
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2answers
94 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 ...
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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 ...
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2answers
62 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 ...
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1answer
166 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 ...
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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 ...
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3answers
167 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, ...
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1answer
221 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 ...
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2answers
131 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 ...
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2answers
555 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 "...
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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
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1answer
281 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 ...
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0answers
60 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 ...
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2answers
168 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 using "...
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0answers
21 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 ...
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4answers
913 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 ...
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1answer
62 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?
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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 ...
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1answer
76 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 ...
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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 ...
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1answer
167 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 ...
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3answers
783 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 ...
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2answers
144 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. This,...
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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 ...
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3answers
839 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 ...
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56 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. [...]...
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2answers
75 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 |adverb| ...
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1answer
156 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)