Old English Discussion

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sa wulfs
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Re: Old English Discussion

Postby sa wulfs » 2012-04-24, 9:41

I've never read anything on OE phonetics across word boundaries in any of the grammars I've stumbled upon. The closest thing was some passing remark in an unrelated Wikipedia article, which said sandhi was a late ME or early MnE phenomenon. I'd say most people assume there wasn't any voicing across word boundaries in OE.

Now, as for the recording, here's what I noticed:
* fandian: I think you pronounce it as disyllabic, ending in /jan/, although I can't be completely sure because you're talking so slowly. Anyway, just in case: weak class 2 verbs didn't end in /jan/, but in /i.an/ (sometimes spelled <igan>).
* aras: the stress falls on the second syllable, since a- is a prefix (MnE arose)
* ancenned: I've never seen it with a dot, so apparently scholars think it had /k/. Note however that the stress should fall on the first syllable, since an- is not a prefix, but the first element of a compound.
* geoffra: it should be three syllables, ge-of-fra, not geof-fra.
* You stress some words that shouldn't be stressed, or that wouldn't be stressed except for special emphasis. For example, in "Nim þinne ancennedan sunu", 'þinne' would be unstressed. It's more noticeable in far "to þam lande Visionis", where both 'to' and 'þam' should be unstressed.
* I can't comment on vowel length.
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Re: Old English Discussion

Postby hlysnan » 2012-04-24, 12:36

Thanks for the reply, sa wulfs!

sa wulfs wrote:I've never read anything on OE phonetics across word boundaries in any of the grammars I've stumbled upon. The closest thing was some passing remark in an unrelated Wikipedia article, which said sandhi was a late ME or early MnE phenomenon. I'd say most people assume there wasn't any voicing across word boundaries in OE.

Alright!

sa wulfs wrote:Now, as for the recording, here's what I noticed:
* fandian: I think you pronounce it as disyllabic, ending in /jan/, although I can't be completely sure because you're talking so slowly. Anyway, just in case: weak class 2 verbs didn't end in /jan/, but in /i.an/ (sometimes spelled <igan>).

I'll keep this in mind, and try to speak faster next time.

sa wulfs wrote:* ancenned: I've never seen it with a dot, so apparently scholars think it had /k/. Note however that the stress should fall on the first syllable, since an- is not a prefix, but the first element of a compound.

Ah alright.

sa wulfs wrote:* geoffra: it should be three syllables, ge-of-fra, not geof-fra.

Oh weird. I was actually aiming for two syllables because I thought <eo> was supposed to be a diphthong. Actually, I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that "Béowulf", for example, is disyllabic.

Peter Baker's Introduction to Old English: "Perhaps the most common error students make when trying to pronounce Old English diphthongs is to break them into two syllables—for example, to pronounce Bēowulf as a three-syllable word when in fact it has only two syllables. Remember that there is a smooth transition between the two vowels of a diphthong, and this is as true of the unfamiliar diphthongs of Old English as it is of the familiar ones of Modern English (like those of site and sound)."

sa wulfs wrote:* aras: the stress falls on the second syllable, since a- is a prefix (MnE arose)
* You stress some words that shouldn't be stressed, or that wouldn't be stressed except for special emphasis. For example, in "Nim þinne ancennedan sunu", 'þinne' would be unstressed. It's more noticeable in far "to þam lande Visionis", where both 'to' and 'þam' should be unstressed.
* I can't comment on vowel length.

In modern English, vowel length and stress usually happen at the same time, I think, and so I ended up confusing the two here. I think it's weird that long vowels happen one after the other, or at least that's how it was marked in the book with "tó" and "þám". Is it even possible to have unstressed long vowels?

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Re: Old English Discussion

Postby sa wulfs » 2012-04-24, 13:07

hlysnan wrote:Oh weird. I was actually aiming for two syllables because I thought <eo> was supposed to be a diphthong. Actually, I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that "Béowulf", for example, is disyllabic.

Peter Baker's Introduction to Old English: "Perhaps the most common error students make when trying to pronounce Old English diphthongs is to break them into two syllables—for example, to pronounce Bēowulf as a three-syllable word when in fact it has only two syllables. Remember that there is a smooth transition between the two vowels of a diphthong, and this is as true of the unfamiliar diphthongs of Old English as it is of the familiar ones of Modern English (like those of site and sound)."

Yes, that's generally true, and "Beowulf" has two syllables. But here we're dealing with a form of the verb "geoffrian", which is the ge- prefix + the verb "offrian", so there should be a hiatus, at least in theory.

Also, sometimes <eo>, <ea> don't note a true diphthong even when there's no hiatus. Sometimes the e is just a diacritic for a palatal pronunciation of c, g or sc: hence you find spellings like "lufian", "lufigan" and "lufigean".
In modern English, vowel length and stress usually happen at the same time, I think, and so I ended up confusing the two here. I think it's weird that long vowels happen one after the other, or at least that's how it was marked in the book with "tó" and "þám". Is it even possible to have unstressed long vowels?

Well, take into account that modern editions typically mark vowel length according to etymological criteria (although not always), so "to" and "þam/þæm" have a macron even in instances where, in natural speech, they might actually have had short vowels (cf. MnE "you" [juː]~[jə]). That said, yes, it's possible to have unstressed long vowels.
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Re: Old English Discussion

Postby hlysnan » 2012-04-24, 13:13

sa wulfs wrote:Yes, that's generally true, and "Beowulf" has two syllables. But here we're dealing with a form of the verb "geoffrian", which is the ge- prefix + the verb "offrian", so there should be a hiatus, at least in theory.

Right! Completely missed that.

sa wulfs wrote:Well, take into account that modern editions typically mark vowel length according to etymological criteria (although not always), so "to" and "þam/þæm" have a macron even in instances where, in natural speech, they might actually have had short vowels (cf. MnE "you" [juː]~[jə]). That said, yes, it's possible to have unstressed long vowels.

Oh okay. What is stress anyway? At the moment, I'm thinking it's mostly related to pitch, but I can't accurately describe it.

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Re: Old English Discussion

Postby sa wulfs » 2012-04-24, 13:31

As far as I know, OE didn't have an actual, phonemic pitch accent, so basically it worked just as in most modern Western languages: it may have affected rhythm, loudness, length, etc (and also pitch, in a non-phonemic kind of way). There must have been some vowel reduction going on, too, judging by some spelling variants, especially in lOE, and by the subsequent history of the language, but that's best left to the philologists. I just treat is as MnE but without vowel reduction.
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Re: Old English Discussion

Postby hlysnan » 2012-06-06, 8:34

Wiktionary lists "ih" as an alternate form for the first person pronoun "ic".
http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/ih#Old_English

Does anyone know much about this? How prevalent it is and whether it's specific to a certain dialect or time period are questions that pop into my mind.

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Re: Old English Discussion

Postby sa wulfs » 2012-06-11, 10:24

I think I've heard this theory that Idoesn't descend from ic, but from a weakened form of a northern, non-standard *ik, but in light of similar words like "every" or the adverbs in -ly, which were still spelled with <ch> in Middle English, I'm not sure how much merit that theory has. I tend to think it was a simple matter of reduction of final sounds in common words, if anything made easier by Old Norse influence.

At any rate, *ih is not West Saxon, i.e. standard Old English. I've never encountered it in any text myself, and I can't find anything on Bosworth-Toller either.

Oh, and the pronunciation of OHG ih on Wiktionary is wrong, for what it's worth.
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Re: Old English Discussion

Postby Petrovitch » 2012-06-15, 19:42

This is a little off topic, but is there an Old English equivalent of the name Catherine?
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Re: Old English Discussion

Postby sa wulfs » 2012-06-16, 9:50

Petrovitch wrote:This is a little off topic, but is there an Old English equivalent of the name Catherine?

Not to the best of my knowledge, no. Can't find any mentions of St Catherine in Old English, no individual called "Catherine" in the Domesday Book. I'd wager the name would have appeared as "Caterina", which I think was the medieval Latin form.
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Re: Old English Discussion

Postby Petrovitch » 2012-06-17, 10:23

sa wulfs wrote:
Petrovitch wrote:This is a little off topic, but is there an Old English equivalent of the name Catherine?

Not to the best of my knowledge, no. Can't find any mentions of St Catherine in Old English, no individual called "Catherine" in the Domesday Book. I'd wager the name would have appeared as "Caterina", which I think was the medieval Latin form.


I know it's Catriona in Scottish Gaelic so I figured it would be something similar to that.
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Re: Old English Discussion

Postby Slavik77 » 2012-06-20, 12:56

hi every one)i will glade if someone help me in practise English.my skype dasha.dasha2198

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Re: Old English Discussion

Postby nailgun » 2012-08-12, 9:07

There's a lot to thisthread, I've only recently joined this group, so forgive me if this has already been covered.

To what extent, would people say, has modern English been based upon (a) Old English (and which dialect[s]?) and (b) Old Norse (ditto)? And in what ways does modern English differ from both of these?

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Re: Old English Discussion

Postby Karavinka » 2012-08-13, 6:01

1) Modern English is based on Old English, not Old Norse. Old Norse influence is there, especially in the North of Humber, but it doesn't make Old Norse the direct ancestor of Modern English.

2) Modern English is based on the dialect that was spoken in London (of course) which would fall into the Mercian (Anglian) dialect area of Old English. But the Old English as we talk about now is largely the West Saxon dialect, centered on Wincester, the political center of the Kingdom of Essex.

3) I can't explain the differences in a few paragraphs... there's too much.
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Re: Old English Discussion

Postby nailgun » 2012-08-18, 8:37

I was hoping for a bit more detail!

There is one factual inaccuracy - modern English is, it is true, based on what must have become the lingua franca in London at some point - but that in turn came largely from the East Midlands, i.e. Leicestershire and surrounding area. It was, thus, heavily influenced by, if not actually more like it than Old English, Old Norse. Hence my question.

Yes, "Old English" is largely Wessex dialect - but there are texts (not many) in Mercian and Northumbrian dialects. The latter might be particularly useful, e.g., when tracing the development of Scots English: if I mind right, there is some evidence that Northumbrian English did not undergo softening of C to CH before E and I - hence Scots "kirk" etc.

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Re: Old English Discussion

Postby Karavinka » 2012-08-18, 15:35

Not a lot of texts in Mercian proper actually survive. The only sizable text that I can think of is Old English Martyrology, a 9th century Mercian work, but I haven't had a chance to read it. Like much of the Old English prose literature, the work seems not to be digitized yet.

True, Mercian (and by extension, Anglian) dialects later formed the core of what is to be the London dialect, rather than the Classical West Saxon. But it doesn't change that Anglian is an Old English dialect, not Old Norse. Not a lot of non-Wessex dialect survives since Alfred's unification and it's safe to say that the literary activity in Danelaw was at a pretty low level. True, Old Norse penetrated into Danelaw but it doesn't change the fact that the main vernacular language of Danelaw was still English.

If you really want to get to the immediate ancestor of London dialect, read Chaucer. If you want to go a bit further back, two East Midlands documents may be of interest: Peterborough Chronicle and Ormulum. Both documents lie on a pretty hazy boundary between Old and Middle English and they're near contemporary, the Chronicle probably slightly earlier than Ormulum. Since both are post-Conquest documents, both document the language as the scribes spoke, instead of the previous West Saxon "Standard." The Chronicle has a slightly more WS-like orthography while Ormulum completely reinvents the standard. In addition, The Peterborough Chronicle displays some French influences while Ormulum shows Norse influence, so that might be more interesting to you.

Nevertheless, the basics of what I wrote on the previous comment is still true. Modern English is descended from Old English, rather than Old Norse. Orm, the author of Ormulum, was an ethnic Dane but his language is still very recognizably English.
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Re: Old English Discussion

Postby JackFrost » 2012-08-18, 18:54

And in what ways does modern English differ from both of these?

Simple. Old English is a West Germanic language whereas Old Norse is a North Germanic language. Small difference, but still the same family. They're cousins rather than siblings (Dutch, Frisian, and German would be the siblings). Modern English is still a West Germanic language and even Scots is still classified as West Germanic language despite all of the Norse influence.

The mark of Old Norse in the language is definitely to be seen as significant, but it barely scratched the core of Old English. So, the influence is probably limited to enriching the vocabulary and breaking down the declension system.

Assuming that Modern English used the sources further north well in the Danelaw areas, I don't think it would have been a lot different. It would certainly still be unintelligible to today Scandinavian speakers (do you think Scots would be somewhat intelligible to the Norwegians? No...).
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Re: Old English Discussion

Postby nailgun » 2012-08-19, 20:29

If you read carefully what I said, I did not say that Scots English is particularly "Norse" - not quite sure where you got that idea from. Imentioned the word "kirk" - and then pointed out that this may well be from the Northumbrian dialect of Old English. Indeed, it may well be that Scots English is more closely related to Old English than modern "standard" English.

As for an OE "core" vocabulary, my understanding is that the vast majority of such "core" words are actually common to both Old English and Old Norse. Also, there is place-name evidence, which seems to suggest a broad area, between the East Midlands and Teesside, where the normal language of communication was, for a considerable period, a variety of Old Norse. This is not the case in most of southern and western England - or, indeed, in Durham and Northumberland. But it is from one such area - the East Midlands - that modern English is reckoned largely to come from.

It might be useful to consider the normal grammatical structure of sentences in (a) Old English, (b) Old Norse, (c) German, (d) Norwegian and (e) modern English. I must confess to not being an expert here, but it strikes me that the modern English way of saying things bears closer resemblance to North Germanic than it does to West Germanic. This is not usually so apparent in formal writing, though.

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Re:

Postby RubyH » 2012-11-07, 1:05

sa wulfs wrote:Eald Englisc is totally cool.

yup you totally thought me that no more willful ignorance about old english.
Though, Actually the list of language I want to learn will only grow bigger and bigger.
I deffiently want to get a diversity of languages.
deffinetly would be nice to speak a language with the best of old and modern english.

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Re: Old English Discussion

Postby salam101 » 2012-11-23, 18:11

Actually, it dates back to Old English; the word was "ðu" (pronounced thu), and this eventually changed into Middle English "thou," then modern "you," since that was easier to say.

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Re: Old English Discussion

Postby sa wulfs » 2012-11-25, 12:05

"You" comes from Old English "eow", which was the accusative/dative of the 2nd person pl. pronoun "ge". Old English didn't have a plural of courtesy, but Middle English did, so it started using "ye" < "ge" and "yow" < "eow" as the 2nd person sg. in courteous contexts. In early Modern English, it lost the connotations of courtesy and became the standard pronoun.

"Þu" goes all the way back to Proto-Indo-European, and it still survives as "thou".
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