153

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, but in English, either letter could be used for voiced or voiceless. Intuitively, one might think that one of these letters would 'win', and replace the ...


20

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’s perfectly customary – in fact it’s the standard convention – to use asterisks to indicate that a word or form is reconstructed, meaning that there is no ...


13

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 do a search for "digraph" in the paper "The evolution of English dental fricatives: variation and change", by Mateusz Jekiel (2012). Note that the history of ...


13

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 Christianity relatively early, and literacy was a consequence of conversion, so the populace already was predisposed to the Latin alphabet given that that is ...


11

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 1992 (2005): “Orthographic usage was reasonably stable during the Old English period”; “Anglo-Saxon manuscripts of Latin normally kept to the Latin spelling ...


9

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 hlafdiȝe ModE ‘lady’ OE hliehhan ModE ‘to laugh’ OE hlid ModE ‘lid’ OE hnecca ModE ‘neck’ OE hnæȝan mod ‘neigh’ OE hreddan ModE ‘to rid’ OE hreoȝ ModE ‘rough’ OE hrycȝ ...


9

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" part of your question). The supposition that they were borrowed specifically from Old English (and not, for example, from the Normans) is supported by the ...


5

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 phonology of English worth reading devote a special section to this topic - see e.g. Hogg 1992, Lass and Anderson 1975 or Minkova 2014. cf. Durkin 2014: 195 See ...


5

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 stems ended in consonants, these are “strong”, here's a list: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Category:Old_English_consonant_stem_nouns. As for verbs, Old ...


4

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 (notably /j/ and /x/), and yogh is most famously used for these. Wynd, though, doesn't have a /j/, a /x/, or any other /g/-related sound in it. The y in this ...


4

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 assumed that ġehwǣre is a late substitution for original ġehwǣm, the alliteration is improved because the metrical pattern x / x x / x usually appears only when ...


3

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 and when they are used as nouns they are declined like the plurals of nouns of the i-declension; nom. and acc. m. and f. -e, n. -u; gen. -a, dat. -um. §133 The ...


3

There really isn't a great deal of "big picture" left. Of is just a shadow of its former lexical self. Originally, it came from the dual facts of separation -- A off B -- and relation -- A of B. In Middle English, final /f/ and /v/ weren't distinguished, so the word had two meanings. But the voiced of /əv/ reduced the vowel to shwa, while the voiceless ...


3

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, a strong verb: *ginnan- s.v. 'to begin' - Go. du-ginnan s.v. 'id.', OE be-ginnan s.v. 'id.', E to begin, OS be-ginnan s.v. 'id.', Du. be-ginnen s.v. 'id.', ...


3

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 ("The Old English Rune Ear, Medium Ævum Vol 30, No 2. (1961), 65–79, my access through JSTOR), who I found discussed in "Palatalization of Velars:A Major Link ...


2

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 <ie> and then later /i/ or /y/ depending on the dialect. The pronunciation of "ie" is disputed. The best proposal I've seen is /iy/, which could ...


2

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.


2

"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 the Latin alphabet to IPA?"—first, you have to know what language and orthography is being used. They're not interchangeable! Once you know what particular runic ...


2

The word peace (from the Old French ancestor of Fr. paix) replaced a few different words in Old English, some of which were of Old Norse origin. For example, peace has historically been used of a treaty or truce (e.g. the 1783 treaty between Britain and the newly-independent United States is called the "Peace of Paris"). In this sense, Old English used a ...


2

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.) Confer e.g. in Beowulf : 878 þára þe gumena bearn gearwe ne wiston those things of which the childen of men by no means knew, 879 faéhðe ond ...


2

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 English speaker, the difference and inflection are evident. I think you may search down the path of ,,bloss'' as that has an earlier origin than ,,nur'' and can ...


1

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 herra 'venerable' with a usage similar to "master, lord".


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