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Talk:Old English

Old English was one of the good articles, but it has been removed from the list. There are suggestions below for improving the article to meet the good article criteria. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
Article milestones
April 28, 2006Good article nomineeListed
September 24, 2007Good article reassessmentDelisted
Current status: Delisted good article


Norse InfluenceEdit

"It is very common for the intermixing of speakers of different dialects, such as those that occur during times of political unrest, to result in a mixed language, and one theory[who?] holds that exactly such a mixture of Old Norse and Old English helped accelerate the decline of case endings in Old English.[citation needed]"

I know that John McWhorter discusses this theory in the book "Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold Story of English" (2008), but I am not sure if he originated it. — Preceding unsigned comment added by False dichotomy (talkcontribs) 16:59, 10 November 2010

The originator of the theory matters less than the integrity of the source. Wikipedia:Identifying reliable sources may help you here. ᛭ LokiClock (talk) 08:40, 26 May 2011 (UTC)

Error in Article GrammarEdit

"Also used occasionally were abbreviations for following m’s or n’s." In the Orthography section. It is incorrect to use apostrophes to denote plurality under any circumstances, even the plural of single letters, symbols, digits or acronyms. The correct way would be to italicise the m and n followed by an uninitialised s or vice versa. Another solution would be to reword the sentence thus: "Also used occasionally were abbreviations for following an m or an n." (talk) 12:40, 4 September 2011 (UTC)

I disagree with you, and Apostrophe#Use in forming certain plurals indicates that I am not alone. That article does lack references, but so do you. I find "m's" perfectly clear and less confusing than "ms" or "ms". And while rewording to avoid genuine ambiguity is worthwhile, rewording because people cannot agree about how to punctuate is a waste of everybody's time and effort. --ColinFine (talk) 23:02, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
Disagreement is not the issue, actual accepted English is the issue. If a few writers feel it is clearer to use an apostrophe in these cases, that does NOT make it correct. But hey! I was just pointing out an error, if you feel it is okay to have an encyclopedia article with a punctuation error in it, then that's up to you. Just go ahead and redefine the language as you see fit, then “everybody's” time and effort won't be wasted. (talk) 10:13, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
Disagreement is the issue, because "correct" is not a single-valued function. Your "correct" does not trump mine. As a matter of fact the relevant authority here (insofar as there is one) is [[Wikipedia::Manual of Style]], which was what directed me to the section I cited above. --ColinFine (talk) 21:40, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
I do believe that the function of language, both written and oral, is clear communication between parties. "Correctness" is different both from person to person (an English teacher and an orator), as well as from generation to generation. There is not a word in our language that existed before someone made it up, and if we are to operate on someone's codification of our language, then whose shall we use? Which is correct? The Table Alphabeticall? The oldest surviving manuscripts? The Canterbury Tales? From where shall we draw our references? "m's" works just fine, and if enough people write it and understand it that way, then one day someone will be arguing with another about how correct it is............ (talk) 05:42, 2 February 2013 (UTC)

According to Garner's Modern American Usage, apostrophes can be used to "mark the plural of an acronym, number, or letter..." He gives the example of "p's and q's," so for this case I believe "m's or n's" is acceptable, and is easier to read and understand. This entry was found on page 674 of the third edition if you want to verify.

Beowulf TranslationEdit

I can understand the value of using modern cognates of Old English words in translation so that people can easily identify word correspondences, but isn't it misleading if the modern cognate has a significantly different meaning than the Old English word? For that matter, can we really call a word like "thrum" modern, given that the last citation for it in the OED is 1450? When I take a quick look through the OED, I see that the most recent citation for all of the following words was in Middle English: gare, thede, thrum, ellen, freme, atee, frover. In the most extreme instance (ellen) the most recent citation is 1240. These are not modern cognates, but late medieval cognates of early medieval words. Would it be more useful to simply do interlinear glossing of the Old English rather than give late medieval cognates which subsequently have to be translated into Modern English? As a side note, I am using the term "modern cognate" here simply because it is what the article uses, but I personally would prefer "modern reflex" or "modern descendant." (talk) 00:47, 28 March 2012 (UTC)

Thomas William ShoreEdit

I can't help feeling it's rather odd that the citation of Thomas Shore's book now links the author's name to ru:Шор, Томас Уильям - his article in the Russian Wikipedia. I understand why Dmitri Koshelyev (Koshelyov? I don't know where the stress is) has done this - because there is an article on him in Russian and not one in English - but I wonder if it is helpful to general readers, who may be puzzled why they have been sent to this unreadable page. No doubt the best solution is to write an English article on him, but in the meantime is this helpful? --ColinFine (talk) 12:12, 28 March 2012 (UTC)

Fæder Ūre mistakeEdit

I notice that the g's in "forgyf" and "forgyfaþ" on line 6 of Fæder Ūre are not marked as palatalized. They should be. I am aware that a historically velar "g" before a "y" arising from i-mutation of "u" was not palatalized, but the "y" in "gyfan" is actually historically "i" (it is a strong verb - historical strong verbs didn't get i-mutated infinitives) - I won't bother going into the details of why it was written as "y" here. Also, there are clear Middle English examples that show that it was indeed palatalized. Most likely Modern English velar "give" is due to Norse influence.

I will do the correcting edit myself in a day or two, providing no one can object to what I've said. Gott wisst (talk) 06:32, 5 March 2013 (UTC)

Sound changesEdit

I understand that the purpose of this table is to give a general overview of the changes. But it has gotten the chronology muddled a bit. Firstly, the -e of "five" was lost before the raising of unstressed e to i, because -e was lost while -i was not. Secondly, the loss of final -t occurred after the nasalisation of final -n. And according to Ringe 2006 the nasalisation happened before the change of ā to ō. The article Proto-Germanic gives a more detailed (and sourced) overview. CodeCat (talk) 14:58, 15 March 2013 (UTC)

Not all of Northumbria over run by VikingsEdit

The sentence "Of these, all of Northumbria and most of Mercia were overrun by the Vikings during the 9th century." is not entirely accurate. The nothern part of the old Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Northumbria seems to have allied itself (or been anexed by) the King of the Scots during this turbulent period - thus becoming in a later time Lowland Scotland (Lothian etc) . It's the reason that today's, 'Scotland' speaks English (or 'Scots'if one prefers)rather than Gaelic as the orginal Scots did. Cassandra — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:55, 3 June 2013 (UTC)

Only Lothian and the eastern borders were anglosaxon in language and even that's iffy (enough placename evidence to suspect a survival of the northern welsh that far east). The western lowlands were mixed Gaelic and North Welsh. (talk) 20:51, 14 April 2014 (UTC)

Old English is latin?. Present day English is German basedEdit

Ptolemys map from 2nd century only show Germaina and Germania MagnaEdit

The first I note FIRST German king was Charlemange of the 8th century!. So old English was latin as ins Bede's writtings, to King William of 1066 the dooms day book just to name a few examples. German did not exist in the 5th century it is IMPOSSIBLE!. So please if OLD English existed before the 13th century NORMANS that brought it to England. Please show some evidence. Also northen Germany near Holstein was part of Germany Magna, and they where not part of the Roman Empire, so they where not belivers of Christ. You need to do some research and stop writing dishonest lies. Atilla the Hun went up the danube and rhine and was killed in France 454AD. Avars had bases in Hunguary and Bugaria in the 8,9th century. Who ever wrote this of low intelligence. So please show the world!. Ohh sorry I believe some else wrote some thing simlar but you keep deleting his comments. Propaganda machine is at work here — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:00, 9 June 2014 (UTC)

What, you mean this, this and this are all wronggg?!1! Fuck me. Nortonius (talk) 16:10, 9 June 2014 (UTC)

All you do is tell your lies here. Engish language did not exist until the Norman's( Orginally a tribe from Scandinavia) brought it over from present day France over sometime in the late 13th century. Facts are 1. German language did not exist until 8th century!. Why see ptolemy's maps from 2nd century AD, Germania (Mostly Roman, Christians and where latin speakers and writers, and Germania Manga which includes the area's of Schleswig-Holstein ( East and northern side, Non Christians, most likey did not speak latin). Charlemange was note: First German king in mid 8th century who started the use of the German language see Monk "Abogran". So how could these Anglo Saxon mythical tribes speak OLD ENGLISH when the German language did not exist in the 5th century its IMPOSSIBLE!. Attila the hun also traveled up the Danube and then the Rhine and was killed in Gaul (France) no where near the Angles. No Huns made it that far ever, And the later Avars around the 8th and 9th century had bases in Hungary and Bulgaria. Mongols in the 13th century also never made it to Schleswig-Holstein area. Please supply some artifacts some copies of the actual documents from 1000-1500 years ago. And shame me in front of the whole world. Also the slavic tribes see Arrived in 9th century but yes all the Germanic and Germans tribes left for Britannia in the 5th century AD. My history is not the best but I believe only two unarmed Saxon tribes arrived by ship in the city of present day Wessex around 460,470AD but Saxony is near Czech Republic?. All English old documents like the dooms day book 1066, Bede the Monk, as example are in latin, all your churches before say the 16th century where all christian and later Catholic. I could go and on but you really should know better. OLD ENGLISH. Thou shall be quite now. ROMANS spoke and wrote in latin. SCHLESWIG HOLSTEIN WAS IN GERMANY MANGA they where not Christens like you!. OLD ENGLISH is mostly a latin based language

Number of speakersEdit

What's the number of speakers? --Michael (talk) 08:40, 14 September 2014 (UTC)

"Old English had a grammar similar in many ways to Classical Latin. In most respects, including its grammar, it was much closer to modern German and Icelandic than to modern English."Edit

These two sentences do not seem to agree. Also, under what possible interpretation was Old English "similar" to Classical Latin? Because they both had cases and grammatical gender? (talk) 17:23, 14 November 2014 (UTC)

I just removed it. It seems redundant with the next (more accurate) sentence, anyway. --Akhenaten0 (talk) 21:14, 14 November 2014 (UTC)
Yes. Good idea Shabidoo | Talk 11:24, 9 April 2015 (UTC)

My or mineEdit

I moved this from my talk page, because others will be interested. — Eru·tuon 16:42, 29 April 2015 (UTC)

Hi, your revert to the IP's edit in the above may not be correct. The sentence begins: The only remnants of this system in Modern English are in a few pronouns (the meanings of I (nominative) my (genitive) and me (accusative/dative) in the first person provide an example).... However, the word my is an adjective, not a pronoun and the IP's change to mine is correct as it is a pronoun. Denisarona (talk) 07:14, 28 April 2015 (UTC)

Hey, I haven't responded to you yet. It's not time to revert my edit. The picture is a little more complicated than you say. My and mine both came from an Old English first-person singular genitive personal pronoun mīn. My is nowadays classified as an adjective or determiner, while mine is classified as a pronoun, but no longer as a personal pronoun, rather a "possessive pronoun". Really mine is kind of like a demonstrative that or quantifier some: there's a related adjective or determiner my, and mine is its noun-like form.
The paragraph is talking about personal pronouns, and neither my nor mine is a personal pronoun. My is considered a possessive adjective or determiner, because it's always used before a noun, while mine is called a possessive pronoun because it's used on its own without a noun. Since neither one is a personal pronoun, either we mention both or one of them. My is the adjective or determiner, and I would argue most similar to a genitive. That's why I think it should be mentioned rather than mine. — Eru·tuon 16:42, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
"my" was never a pronoun, not even in Old English. It has been an independent determiner at least since Proto-Indo-European times, and unlike true genitives, it inflected for case, number and gender itself. One of these case forms ended up becoming used as the genitive form of "I", but this genitive form was only used with verbs or prepositions that required their object in the genitive. It was not used the way we now use "mine"; the determiner was used for that. CodeCat (talk) 17:32, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
Hmm, thanks for the correction. But it sounds like mīn was both a personal pronoun and a determiner in Old English, though mostly a determiner, since it would have been only rarely used with a verb or preposition. Rather similar to German. I guess then, technically, the genitive personal pronoun was lost, and only the determiner remained, so the paragraph is completely inaccurate, because it says the genitive remained. Confusing. — Eru·tuon 01:28, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
Well it's hard to say, because the genitive pronoun was mīn but the nominative singular (all genders) of the determiner was also mīn. The difference only emerges when you compare it with other Germanic languages. In Gothic, the genitive is meina, the nominative singulars are meins, meina, mein(ata); in Old Norse they are mín and minn, mín, mitt; in Old High German they are mīn and mīner, mīniu, mīnaz. I believe (to be confirmed) that in all of them, the determiner was used in combination with a copula, and so do the modern languages. In modern Dutch, an article is even added in that case: de/het mijne; this leaves little doubt that it's an adjectival form at heart. So presumably the same applies to the English form. CodeCat (talk) 01:42, 30 April 2015 (UTC)

External links modifiedEdit

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Edit regarding OE -> ME shiftEdit

I added the following statement in the lead:

The English language made a dramatic shift from a language that was heavily Germanic in vocabulary and grammar, to a blended language known as Middle English combining Romance and Germanic influences.

Ajd raised a concern about this. I wanted to clarify.

Middle English is a radically different language from Old English. Old English is clearly a Germanic language, but not just because of vocabulary. The grammar, including noun declensions and verb conjugation are very clearly Germanic and very similar to modern German. This is not at all true of Middle English. Though ME preserves more of the Germanic grammar than Modern English it was still radically different from Germanic languages and in fact picked up a lot of Romance aspects of grammar, something that does not normally happen with borrowing (borrowing usually involves vocabulary, not grammar). Some linguists in fact categorize Middle/Middle English as a creole of Norman and Old English. One characteristic of a creole is that whereas its vocabulary is borrowed from its parent languages, its grammar is typically much simpler and quite different from either of the parents, something that is very true of ME. Certainly whether to classify it as a creole or not is a matter of debate within the linguistic community, the fact the Norman conquest created a radically altered language that was influenced by Norman in every aspect is not debated.

All of this was the point I was trying to make (succinctly in the lead).

--MC — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:48, 20 June 2017 (UTC)

I see Ajd seems to want to get into a fight over this.
Ajd, your statement that "'blended language' is a major overstatement." is false. That Middle English was drastically influenced by Norman is a widely accepted fact (see [1], [2], [3], and here). Please do your research before making false assertions (and restore my edit).
-- MC — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:10, 20 June 2017 (UTC)
That Middle English was drastically influenced by Norman is definitely a widely accepted fact; true. That doesn't make it a "blended language". "Blended language" doesn't appear to be a commonplace term, but to me it sounds like it means the same as a mixed language, like Michif or Media Lengua, which Middle English is not. The hypothesis that Middle English is a creole, which you link, isn't necessarily the same as a "blended language", and in any case it's highly controversial, not widely accepted as true, and therefore not a good idea to presume it as true in a mention in passing in an article about a different topic. AJD (talk) 21:29, 20 June 2017 (UTC)
What are the Romance aspects of grammar that you refer to? — Eru·tuon 20:53, 20 June 2017 (UTC)

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Germanic dialects mapEdit

Archeological cultures

This map [4] needs to be removed because it peddles the same myths about the Germanic peoples that were circulated in the 19th and early 20th centuries. For one, how can you draw such clear borders between supposed ancient "Germanic" dialects if no written record of them exists?! Also, archeological evidence show a different picture all together, with many inhabited areas referred to as "cultures' because they can't be linked with certainty to any specific group of peoples. --E-960 (talk) 03:53, 1 November 2017 (UTC)

To be entirely honest, it looks like the inclusion of that map in this article was intended to illustrate only one line in the history section, so I doubt it will be missed. As for your points, I completely agree, it seems to be a bit too detailed, considering how little we know, and the user to have originally uploaded the file on commons gives no basis/sources for its construction. Maybe this map from Ingvaeonic languages is slightly more valid (without concentrating too much on where the boundaries lie), but even then I think it's excessive for one line. Wasechun tashunkaHOWLTRACK 20:15, 1 November 2017 (UTC)
The link to the original map from the article is the File:Germanic_dialects_ca._AD_1.png, the chart displayed to the right is the comparison chart which shows that the archeology does not quite match the boundaries of the File:Germanic_dialects_ca._AD_1.png chart. --E-960 (talk) 21:23, 1 November 2017 (UTC)
In any case, I was able to locate a chart that relates directly to Old English, so it might be the ideal choice for this article. --E-960 (talk) 21:26, 1 November 2017 (UTC)
Return to "Old English" page.