165 votes
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Why did Old English lose both thorn and eth?

My understanding is that Old English had two letters, thorn and eth, which were used interchangeably to represent the sound th as in thin or father. Pretty much. In some languages they were distinct, ...
Draconis's user avatar
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20 votes
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Why are some Old English suffixes marked with a preceding asterisk?

The first thing to realise here is that that is not Old English. Read the quote carefully: an *-ian verb-forming suffix in Germanic That means the form is Proto-Germanic, rather than Old English. It’...
Janus Bahs Jacquet's user avatar
15 votes

Why did Old English lose both thorn and eth?

The explanation I remember seeing for the rise of the digraph “th” and fall of the letters thorn and eth in English spelling is influence from French spelling habits. You can see more details if you ...
brass tacks's user avatar
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13 votes

Problems with the adoption of the Latin script in English?

English was written in the Latin alphabet even in the Old English period. Latin letters were introduced in the OE period by Irish missionaries around the 7th-8th century. The Anglo-Saxons converted to ...
user6726's user avatar
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12 votes

Why did Old English lose both thorn and eth?

Here are my notes on the question, a summary of most important linguistic research with relevant quotes; perhaps someone, who is more into linguistic theory, might find them useful. Old English Hogg ...
Alex B.'s user avatar
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10 votes

Why were words for the four cardinal directions in Romance languages borrowed from Old English?

The French words for the cardinal points (nord, sud, est, ouest) are definitely borrowed from some Germanic language, presumably in connection with seafaring in the North Sea. (This answers the "why" ...
fdb's user avatar
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9 votes

Words in English which elided medial 'g' or 'v' (or initial 'h' before 'l', 'n', or 'r')

All the following information comes from Christopher Upward's The History of English Spelling: Words that lost initial ‘h’: OE hlaf ModE ‘loaf’ OE hlud ModE ‘loud’ OE hlædder ModE ‘ladder’ OE ...
Mellifluous's user avatar
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6 votes

The Pronunciation of G in Old English

Many of the surviving Scandinavian languages have palatalised g in similar environments, but loan words like give (which replaced the native word, which gave dialectal yive) show that at the point of ...
Tristan's user avatar
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6 votes
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History of perfect tenses

According to the OED (have, sense VI): The have-perfect in English apparently arose as a reanalysis of uses such as I have my work done ‘I have my work in a done or finished condition’; the ...
Draconis's user avatar
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6 votes

Why does "begin" have /g/ instead of /j/ if it's from PG *ginnan?

So far, this is a short general post about some exceptions in which palatalization of /g/ before a front vowel did not happen. This is a well-known phenomenon and virtually all books on historical ...
Alex B.'s user avatar
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5 votes

Where could I find a list weak nouns in modern English which were strong in old English?

For the Old English nouns the division into “weak” and “strong” is less important than the division into stem types. Nouns like boc --> bec are called “root-stems” or “consonant stems” since their ...
Yellow Sky's user avatar
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5 votes
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What does "An. Ox." mean?

A google book search shows "An. Ox. 3778" appears on page 717 of a 1908 Supplement to an Anglo-Saxon dictionary; the front matter explains that "An. Ox." means Anecdota Oxoniensia:...
kimchi lover's user avatar
4 votes

The Pronunciation of G in Old English

No, it is not related to Old Norse, it is inherited from Anglo-Frisian. Old Norse supplied some words with "hard g" and "hard k" in environments where Anglo-Frisian developed ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
4 votes
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Middle English: y or ȝ

As Yellow Sky notes in the comments, yogh was a consonant, not a vowel. It was originally used to represent /g/; eventually certain sounds that used to be allophones of /g/ became their own phonemes (...
Draconis's user avatar
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4 votes
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alliteration in coda : an Old English example?

I asked Professeur Fulk, Professor Emeritus of English, one of the authors of Klaeber's Beowulf, who was kind enough to answer me quickly and to allow me to reproduce his email. [...] if it is ...
suizokukan's user avatar
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3 votes
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declining numerals in Old English

Quote from An Introduction to Old English by George Leslie Brook, page 51: §132 The cardinal numerals from 4 to 19 generally remain uninflected when they stand before a noun; when they follow a noun ...
Dejan Dimc's user avatar
3 votes

Why does "begin" have /g/ instead of /j/ if it's from PG *ginnan?

It is possible it was an analogical development. I checked Guus Kroonen's Etymological Dictionary of Proto-Germanic, and he lists Old English beginnan as a direct descendant of PGmc *(bi/du)-ginnaną, ...
Darkgamma's user avatar
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3 votes

How do you translate academic runic encodings to runes (ᚠᚢᚦᚨᚱᚲ)?

"Runes" aren't a single writing system: there are several variants, used in different places at different times to transcribe different languages. It's like asking "how do I convert text written in ...
Draconis's user avatar
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3 votes

Could Old English /ea/ be a derivative from /a/?

It might not be settled whether Proto-Germanic *au was monophthongized before developing to Old English *ea. A development to a monophthong (as you suggest) has been proposed by Raymond Page ("...
brass tacks's user avatar
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2 votes

Vowel change OE

The Germanic diphthong /au/ became /æa/ (spelled "ea") in stressed syllables. This dipthong was further subject to i-mutation. In the West Saxon dialects, i-mutation of "ea" was &...
siride's user avatar
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2 votes
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Where can I find Tech. ii. 128, 25?

OK, so I did the search myself. Band II is available at https://archive.org/details/internationaleze02techuoft/page/128/mode/2up You want page 128, line 25.
Vladimir F Героям слава's user avatar
2 votes

Old English forms of address

In Anglo-Saxon lēof 'beloved, dear' was used in a similar manner, though it was not as formal. e.g. "lēofa Bēowulf" 'dear Beowulf', "lēof ealdormann" 'Mister Alderman'. In Old Norse some sources have ...
Mark Beadles's user avatar
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2 votes
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"Only" in Old English?

What about "nothing... but...", "náht... búton(bútan)" like in : Gif hé ágylte, hé hit georne gebéte and syððan geswíce; for ðí ne bið nán bót náht búton þǽr beó geswicenes (Hml. Th. i. 268, 22.) ...
suizokukan's user avatar
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2 votes

"Only" in Old English?

Where did you come up with ,,anlic?'' ,,Allein'' has a different meaning... translated to English it is closer to the meaning we place with "I am alone" vs "I alone am human." If you are a native ...
ss109's user avatar
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2 votes
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Why did the Rebracketing from "Napron" to "Apron" Figuratively Stick?

The commenters are right that in linguistics it's often hard to say why exactly, but they're wrong to pretend there are no factors that influence the probability of rebracketing and reanalysis in ...
Adam Bittlingmayer's user avatar
2 votes
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Why does old english niman from PGmc *nemaną, have "i"?

In late Proto-Germanic, there was a sound change that changed *e to *i before a following nasal consonant in tautosyllabic coda position: *ben.da.ną became *bin.da.ną because the first *n was in coda ...
Janus Bahs Jacquet's user avatar
1 vote

Is OE "g" iegland from Pgmc "w" or "j" awjōlandą?

The Proto-Germanic diphthong *aw regularly becomes ēa in Old English, and īe (West Saxon) or ē (Mercian & Northumbrian) when subject to i-mutation. Followed by a *j, the *aw in *awjōlandą would be ...
Tristan's user avatar
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