Questions tagged [old-english]

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

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37 views

I am looking for some old-english books [closed]

Can anyone suggest some books that uses fancy or old-fashioned way of english speaking?
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Is there an Old English word for change/alter/modify?

Why is there no English word for change / alter / modify? All of these are historically Latin words. The nearest in Old English that I could find was perhaps "wend," but that does not seem ...
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6k 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. ...
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1answer
102 views

How does this Old English text (from the dedication of the book “The White Horse King”) translate in Modern English?

The dedication of the book The White Horse King (Merkle, 2009) contains the following: Hwa Þeos, Þe gesihÞ swa swa se morgen Fæger swa se mona Beorht swa se sunne Torhtmod swa se scildweall. ...
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Was “book” to “beek” as “foot” is to “feet”?

"Foot" is a curious word in English because it is pluralized in an unusual way; the "oo" in the word is changed to "ee". Did this once use to be a standard way of pluralizing things in English (or a ...
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1answer
78 views

What does “stat 1. c.18” mean?

I'm reading Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations and I keep seeing these chronologic references to reigns of kings and queens in England: By the 12th of Queen Anne, too, stat. 1, c. 18 What do "...
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351 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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830 views

What did they use in Old English or Middle English before 'of course'?

I'm writing a story that heavily uses archaic or unusual English words, with a focus of non-Latin, non-French and non-Anglo-Norman derived words and how English might work without them. I found very ...
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1answer
128 views

Origin of describing emotions with adjectives associated with taste

You might have seen that most of the adjectives that are related to taste are used to describe emotions. It is very common. It exists in many other languages. Salty, sour, sweet, bitter etc. We use ...
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1answer
76 views

Pronunciation of -wic in place names

In the TV series The Last Kingdom a number of place names appear. The series typically shows the Ænglisc spelling of place names, followed by the modern one. E.g. the name old name Wintanceaster ...
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Are there english/anglish words for raw meat?

Are there any words for raw meat? This can mean raw fermented meat, raw cultured meat, raw fresh meat, raw high meat, raw spoiled meat. And can include specific types of meat, such as poultry, pork, ...
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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 irregular verbs, in a "new" way. Basically, I show that sometimes the suffix -(e)n is added to the PRESENT stem. For ...
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310 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 ...
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What is the word order in the founding documents of American history?

Apparently, the historical document passages in SAT tests have some sort of twisted word order. I wonder if there is a proper text on the grammatical word order rules for such documents. P.S. I ...
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36 views

Difference in Negative forms( also Archaic English)

Imagine this, my baby brother was making annoying weird noise to irritate me, so I'd tell him "Can you NOT do that!" {But here I can't say "CAN'T you do that!"} Now,imagine my big brother was making ...
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1answer
186 views

What is the earliest written example of Old English?

What is the earliest written example of Old English?
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1answer
27 views

Is there a word for “the application of ointments/creams to oneself”?

I know there's a word for "the washing or cleaning of oneself, for personal hygiene, or the ritual washing or cleaning associated with religious observance" which is "ablution", and there's also "...
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154 views

Etymology of “to trade”?

Concerning "to trade", I saw on Etymonline: https://www.etymonline.com/word/trade late 14c., "path, track, course of action," introduced by the Hanse merchants, from Middle Dutch or Middle Low ...
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Is there a different grammatical term for “If I was” than for “If I were”?

Many people would say the correct form is "If I were rich ...". In modern colloquial English though most younger people would say "If I was rich ...". Prescriptivists might say the latter is "the ...
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4answers
448 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 ...
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1answer
915 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 ...
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3answers
3k views

Origin of the word “delete”

What is the history of the word "delete". It's from Latin "deletus", but I wonder how and why this word was borrowed in English. Usually, words directly borrowed in English are from religious, ...
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1answer
211 views

Origin of old English word “offrian”

I know that Latin and old French are implicated, but where does the old English "offrian" come from? I mean: what is the word evolution from the root? Which root exactly: why this "ian" ending? ...
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What does Ȝecyndbēc mean?

The only link on Google is to this Wikipedia page on a "Poetic Retelling of Genesis". I gather Lēoþ means "song", but there is no definition of the other word. Does is just say "In the beginning" or ...
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1answer
44 views

What punctuation did the original manuscript of Beowulf have?

I am trying to find information on the punctuation of the Beowulf Manuscript, but not getting much. I found an image online of what appears to be a front page of an old looking book, but I'm not sure ...
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What is an archaic, rare noun or word for an archetypal, vengeant, past tensive male character who is of the past that many aspire to be like?

What I mean is "someone of old" that people could be drawn to. One who is stuck in the past and in his ways and dislikes the future. Something like: • an originator • an innovator • a predecessor • ...
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2k views

Send, sent; end, *ent?

The past tense of a number of verbs changes from -end to -ent: bend → bent lend → lent rend → rent send → sent spend → spent wend → went However, most do not, notably end. Granted, I say “I ent up” (...
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How to determine Weak and Strong verbs in Old English (Anglo-Saxon)

How to determine whether a verb is a weak verb or a strong verb in Old English ?
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1answer
587 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 ...
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128 views

Was Old English “ēalās” equivalent to Modern English “hello”?

In a question in the Spanish Language site about the origin of Spanish hola 'hello', one of the answers states that Old English ēalās, written ēalā before a name, already sounded quite similar to hola,...
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4answers
1k 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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1answer
114 views

Did Old English have a middle voice or mediopassive voice?

I've read that Icelandic and Old Norse have a middle voice, so I wanted to know if either or both of these distinct grammatical features existed in Old English. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...
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1answer
266 views

The “prickmouse” and the “butcher's broom”

I sometime go for walks in the wood near where I live, and in the undergrowth, beneath the oaks and pines, you'll find an evergreen prickly shrub which is called pungitopo in Italian. The word is ...
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949 views

Why is the origin of “threshold” uncertain?

The Barn, Church Hall Farm, Broxted, Essex (England) See the YouTube video (13.40) George Clarke: The architecture of threshing barns is absolutely driven by their function. With two opposing doors ...
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4answers
113k 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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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?
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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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4k views

Meaning of the phrase 'out upon it'

I came across this phrase twice while reading the play Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare in the following contexts: 1 - "Out upon it old carrion, Your flesh rebels at these years?". A ...
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1answer
214 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 ...
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2answers
601 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 ...
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2answers
870 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 ...
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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 curious that some of them had an original meaning borrowed from Latin, but the words themselves were a translation. So ...
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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?
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2answers
230 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. ...
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1answer
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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 ...
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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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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 ...
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1answer
189 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....
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1answer
140 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 "...
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5k 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" ...