Still here! (And a bit about “Old English”)

Hey everyone. I wanted to drop a quick post here to let those of you who are still subscribed to the feed (a surprising number of you!) that I’ve not abandoned this blog. I’ve been extremely busy with classes, and both of my blogs (this one and System 13) have suffered because of it. But, one must have priorities. 🙂

I won’t, however, post here without writing at least a little bit about language. So:

I have long been frustrated with people thinking that modern words with an -e slapped on the end constitute “Old English.” (Or should I say “Olde English”?) I hear expressions from people surprisingly often, showing how little they know about the evolution of their own, native language.

The most recent case was when I was discussing Myne Owne Ground, a book I had to read for a class I’m in. As can be discerned from the extended title (Myne Owne Ground: Race and Freedom on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, 1640-1676), the book is concerned with 17th century Virginia. Throughout the book, there are excerpts from court cases, land grants, etc. Many of the words in these excerpts are spelled incorrectly or inconsistently, and a great deal of the words have an unneeded -e appended to the end.

When talking about this with a fellow classmate, he commented that, “Yeah, all of that Old English will get you everytime.” (I suppose he could have meant “old” as an antiquated, from a previous time, etc., but I seriously doubt it.) I just nodded and smiled, but I wanted to say: “Alas, no – that’s not Old English! You’re only about 5 centuries late. If I were to show you real Old English – Anglo-Saxon – you’d realize how silly you sound.”

Old[e] English, indeed.

3 thoughts on “Still here! (And a bit about “Old English”)”

  1. Heh, yeah it’s the same here; with (Old) English (perhaps to be expected) as well as with Middle Dutch and the various variations of Old Dutch – which is often some form of Old West Low Franconian 😉

    A nice example of this, btw, are the (beatiful) Wachtendonck Psalms

    Head for the bit that starts Forchta in biuonga quamon ouer mi. With English and German, I’m sure a lot will look familiar.

    There’s no Es appended, though 🙂

  2. Yeah, a lot of that does look familiar. I’ve not looked a great deal at modern Dutch, but from what I have seen, it looks (to my eyes, of course) like someone took German, and shuffled the letters around a bit. It’s pretty cool how much of written Dutch I can understand, considering I’ve never looked at a single lesson on the language. 🙂

  3. I have that problem all the time, on the other end. I know what Old English is, but saying say “Shakespearean English” takes more effort and just doesn’t come out as naturally, and I don’t know what else to use. It’s kind of like the phrase “anti-social.” I know I am using it incorrectly, but I have yet to find a good replacement for the colloquial use of the phrase.

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