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AS Linguistics (pilot) Week 4: more about Old English.

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Presentation on theme: "AS Linguistics (pilot) Week 4: more about Old English."— Presentation transcript:

1 AS Linguistics (pilot) Week 4: more about Old English

2 Old English Poetry Only about 30,000 lines exist – having survived fires, wars and the hazards of time Wide variety: translations of the Bible,saints’ lives, prayers, allegories, poems about events such as battles / heroic events Riddles, charms,proverbs

3 Riddles: sounds and stress Notice how each line is divided into ‘half – lines At least 1 of the main stresses in the first half line must begin with the same consonant sound as the first main stress in the second half line Ic waes be sonde, saēwealle nēah, Wordum wrixlan. ….wundres ( line 10 ) Sefan searolic ……. swylc

4 Riddles : some facts There are 95 of them in one MSS, the Exeter Book Subject matter varied A key joke was to describe an apparently obscene object, which turns out to be something else There are riddles about: Religion The natural world Domestic objects weapons

5 More on Old English spelling and grammar Vowel sounds have changed a lot, but consonant sounds have changed little. Clusters of consonants were used that no longer occur Some consonants were pronounced which is no longer the case in modern English

6 Some examples Consonant clusters pronunciations Hlud loud Hring ring Hnutu nut Folc folk Cealc chalk

7 A synthetic language Remember that this means INFLECTIONS are added (like Latin) Compare the Old and Modern English opposite Stānes ceald-nes Coldness of stone / stone’s coldness But is there still evidence of inflection in modern English?

8 Further reading The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language David Crystal The Story of Language C L Barber The Power of Babel John McWhorter The Unfolding of Language Guy Deutscher A choice of Anglo Saxon Verse Richard Hamer

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