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Questions tagged [old-english]

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

3
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2answers
126 views

How is 'wl-' pronounced?

How is 'wl-' pronounced at the beginning of a word? Of course, you just don't pronounce it at all, because there is no English word that begins that way and if there were, well, that's just not ...
0
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0answers
29 views

No Gender Nouns [duplicate]

Why do adjectives and some nouns in English not have gender? Is there a history beyond that? Don't this cause some ambiguity in the language itself?
7
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2answers
173 views

Etymology of 'black'

I saw a news article on ABC news that made the claim that "if you go back far enough in time", the word 'black' used to mean 'white' and has the same origins as the French blanc and English bleach. ...
3
votes
1answer
44 views

Is the edh ð always curved, or can it be straight?

I'm wondering about the orthography of the old english edh ð. It is always drawn (lowercase) as a curved d with the line through it. But I'm wondering if it would be acceptable to just have it be a ...
3
votes
1answer
66 views

How homogeneous was Old English spelling?

Are varying spellings available, or was Old English rather uniform, as far as the sources show? Variant spelling may have indicated different verbal dialects, but written dialects, involuntary eye ...
5
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4answers
203 views

Why do ash (trees) and ash (burnt residue) have the same name?

I've often wondered why ash (trees) and ash (burnt residue) have the same name. I've looked up the origin of both words, but I don't see anything that explains why the names are the same. From the ...
1
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0answers
30 views

Continuous(Progressive) module in Old English

I'm curious as to the origins of the Continuous(progressive) module. Whenever I meet texts emulating old speech, like in: video game RPGs, books like the Saxon Chronicles, Hollywood movies about the ...
0
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1answer
54 views

Looking for a list of hapax legomena that have lost their meanings over time [closed]

These are words that have lost their meanings over time and can't be reconstructed from context, as it only appeared in that context once and not in others. I've searched with Google but came up empty....
13
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2answers
4k views

Scottish, English, why not *Walish?

As the title question asks, and particularly in light of the Old English word wælisc apparently used to refer to "Welsh", when, why, and how did the English adjective meaning "of or relating to Wales" ...
0
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2answers
101 views

What is the grammatical name of prefixing a word by “A”?

I've noticed that in English, "some words" (I don't know if it could be used on all words) could be prefixed by the letter "a" to change the meaning, here are a few examples: Side and Aside ...
4
votes
1answer
131 views

Where did the word “brat” in reference to a spoiled child originate?

I've heard that the etymology is unknown as the original word refers to a garment and the old English word bratt a cloak. None of these seem to point to how it came to be used derogatorily.
5
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2answers
476 views

Shakespeare's “say sooth” vs. “tell truth”

The noun sooth, pronounced /suːθ/, is now archaic and means ‘fact’,‘reality’ and ‘truth’. Its legacy persists in the words soothe /suːð/, and soothsayer meaning someone who sees the truth, a synonym ...
2
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1answer
438 views

When do I use æ?

I've always seen this letter but didn't start learning about it until 10 minutes ago. What I was wondering most was when to use it. I have found some conflicting sources about it so if anyone could ...
0
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2answers
205 views

Has there been any theory on the vowel /o/ that was inserted into words like “arrow”?

Words like tomorrow, sorrow, arrow, follow, borough contain /o/, as in the diphthong /oʊ/, which was /wə(n)/ in Middle English which was weakened from Old English /x/ or /ɣ/ + some sort of vowel. ...
0
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0answers
46 views

Plot: 1. piece of land / 2. storyline > coincidence?

I wondered if the double meaning of the word "plot" is likely to be a coincidence or if there may be a link between its meanings? It seems that the meaning "land" has a Germanic origin and the ...
6
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1answer
321 views

Is the “blue” in “blue moon” a reference to betrayal?

There are some previous questions on this site about the etymology of the phrase "blue moon" (What is the origin of the phrase "blue moon"? Any alternate phrase for it?, Why do we call some ...
1
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2answers
374 views

Pronunciation and syllables of pre-Modern English “belewe”?

I know the word "belewe" from traditional astronomy as a precursor to the phrase "blue moon", also known as the "betrayer" thirteenth moon in one of every three years that would disrupt a lunar ...
7
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2answers
223 views

Can anyone translate this text from the Wessex Gospels of 1175, please?

I would be grateful if someone could translate the following text as I am doing some research on Luke 1:35 and the various historical readings of the text in English : for þan þt halig þe of þe ...
92
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3answers
10k views

How did English retain its non-Christian names of the week?

It amazes me that despite centuries of religion dominating almost every aspect of life in Britain or at the very least exerting a great deal of influence on the public and private sphere, the English ...
16
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3answers
2k views

Did Old English (Anglo-Saxon) use contractions?

German uses contractions a lot, including im (in+dem) and zum (zu+dem) to name a few. As an Old English learner, I wanted to know if there were any attested similarities. My research hereto has ...
27
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2answers
2k views

Irregular verbs: the history of the suffix “-en” used in past participles

Recently, I've been helping my home students learn the past participles of some of the irregular verbs, in a "new" way. Basically, I show that sometimes the suffix -(e)n is added to the PRESENT stem. ...
7
votes
1answer
255 views

How did “stroke” become the verb “strike” to mean “deal a blow”?

I've just been looking up the etymology of the word "strike," as in “The pedestrian was struck by a vehicle.” (I was curious about why we always seem to use "struck" in this situation). A quick ...
11
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1answer
199 views

Are there any Germanic cognates to “lithe”?

When winter first begins to bite                and stones crack in the frosty night,           when pools are black and trees are bare,                ’tis evil in the Wild to fare. In this time of ...
13
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5answers
1k views

Crush the spearhead leek

I've often wondered why the pungent plant called garlic is a mass noun. If I look at its etymology, I see it is derived from Old English. Old English gārlēac, from gār ‘spear’ (because the shape of ...
8
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2answers
627 views

Why does the past tense form of sleep have a weak suffix?

Meaning: to sleep is a strong verb in the Germanic languages. While I'm quite aware that strong vs weak anything has very little bearing on modern English, this is still something that puzzles me. ...
18
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2answers
1k views

Construction of “woe is me”

The expression “woe is me” (meaning) looks strange. On the surface, it seems to mean “an unhappy event is me”. Sure, it's an old idiom, undoubtedly reflecting vocabulary or grammar that is no longer ...
6
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1answer
617 views

When did all-caps formatting come to indicate shouting?

A question on the History stack discusses when all-caps formatting came to indicate shouting in digital text, the answer being that such formatting has been interpreted to indicate shouting long ...
3
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1answer
86 views

“So clean it was fallen away”… what?

This quote is from the Very Bloody History of Britain by John Farman. I have a soft spot for it as the first history book I ever read, almost twenty-five years ago. I have always wondered what the ...
1
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1answer
112 views

Did Old English have /uw/?

Old English had the unstressed syllable rhyme /ij/, spelled as ⟨iġ⟩; which became the Modern English sound /i/, spelled as ⟨y⟩ (or ⟨ie⟩ in plurals). This sound was found in the suffix ⟨-iġ⟩ of "mihtiġ"...
1
vote
1answer
194 views

Mixed saying / witty remark about remarks

I need to mix To err is human, to persist [...] is diabolical with a joke about too much remarking. The result should be To err is human, to persist in remarking is diabolical. Should I ...
1
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1answer
177 views

Use of 'here' for an army in Modern English

I came upon that here used to be utilised for an army (more likely enemy) in Old English (also shown in Wiktionary). The same page also shows that there is a modern form of the word as here and that ...
4
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3answers
3k views

What is non-borrowed English word meaning “calculate”, “compute”, “count”?

What is non-borrowed native English word meaning "calculate", "compute", "count"? What was the word for these things in Old English?
5
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1answer
358 views

How are double consonants pronounced in Old English (Ænȝlıſc/Eald Englisc/Anglo Saxon?)

Doubles for Alternate Sounds Per Letter -- Preface to Actual Subject: I am aware that, with the exception of the letters ess, thorn, eth (by extension, though not historically), b (older manuscripts*)...
2
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1answer
251 views

What is the Old English(Ænȝlıſc/Eald Englisc/Anglo Saxon) Word for “Grammatical Case?”

I am curious as to what the Ænȝlıſc word is for "grammatical case." I remembered hearing a man say it before, but I cannot remember for sure. If I recall, he said something along the lines of "ſe Fæle,...
15
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1answer
995 views

What was Ꝧ (thorn with stroke through descender) used for in middle/old english?

I was doing some research online and I saw that a thorn with a slash through the ascender was a common abbreviation for "that," but the same website (wikipedia) also listed this character: "Ꝧ". What ...
1
vote
1answer
106 views

How did “like” change from a noun meaning “body” to the modern verb?

As pointed out here, saying "I like X" in old English would have to be formulated as "X pleases my body" and the word "like" would represent "body" in that sentence. But it's not clear to me how "like"...
7
votes
1answer
823 views

Did Old English have diacritics?

I was learning English, which is my second language, when I came across the methinks word. I went to google to look up its meaning and usage, when to my surprise I saw this description: Old English ...
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0answers
34 views

the first consonants of “think” and “than” [duplicate]

think /θ/ than /ð/ As you can see,the first consonant of the two words differs.But according to the wiktionary,they are both from Proto-Germanic,and the first characters in Proto-Germanic are both ...
10
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2answers
921 views

What's up with “this,” in Old English(Ænȝlıſ͡ċ/Anglo Saxon‽)

I am asking two things here, about Ænȝlıſċ (Old English) First and foremost, see this picture here: – which was taken from this page: QUESTION 1: What is the difference between these two words: "...
6
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1answer
2k views

Sice, cinque, cater, trey, deuce, ace, and then?

The set of numbers for a six-sided die are: ace, deuce, trey, cater, cinque, sice. They originate from Old French (cf. un, deux, trois, quatre, cinq, six in modern French). Ace comes from Latin as, ...
3
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0answers
228 views

The dative case in medieval English [closed]

I speak an analytic language, Chinese, and a weakly inflected language, English. As such I'm having a bit of trouble wrapping my head around the concept of the dative case in Old English. I understand ...
4
votes
1answer
812 views

Why is therefore not written therefor?

Having just learned that in Old English the word for was written as fore, why is therefore still written as it is currently, and not as therefor? Being a non-native English speaker, many times I ...
13
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1answer
2k 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
129 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 ...
3
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2answers
232 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
370 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 ...
2
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1answer
1k 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 ...
2
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1answer
281 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) ...
1
vote
1answer
208 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
6k 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 ...