No Saxon Please.....We're English!!!

Moderator: Moderators

Lorraine at Lanista

No Saxon Please.....We're English!!!

Postby Lorraine at Lanista » Fri Mar 17, 2006 9:18 pm

Not sure if I should scream to the gods or cry into my pillow :x :cry:


http://www.oxfordstudent.com/tt2000wk2/news/no_saxon_please_-_we're_english!


(P.S. If link does not work (computer playing silly b"^£*&s today) let me know and I'll post again)

Lorraine at Lanista
http://www.lawa.co.uk

Your Cute and Cuddly Moderator :twisted:



User avatar
sally
Post Knight
Posts: 1805
Joined: Mon Jul 18, 2005 2:31 pm
Location: Sunny Wales
Contact:

Postby sally » Fri Mar 17, 2006 9:27 pm

I still have vivid memories of having to translate the whole of Beowulf as part of my degree (and one day I'll be brave enough to re-read it and see what a hash I made of it). One of the biggest problems I faced in my degree -I did joint honours Old English and Archaeology- was that I had never been formally taught the structure of grammar. My grammar was fundamentally ok because I come from a family that reads incessantly, but I couldnt describe the parts of a sentance. My Old Norse tutor in particular dispaired of me, because I could spot when I'd got a phrase wrong, but had no way to explain why or to qualify what needed to be corrected. I can imagine that *ahem* years on, its even worse, and I can quite see why studying any of the variations on Old English/Old Norse might be a bit boggling to the modern undergraduate. Should be compulsory though, great stories, marvellous phrases, all students of English should do at least a bit of it.



User avatar
Cat
Post Centurion
Posts: 704
Joined: Sun Jul 17, 2005 9:40 pm
Location: A Muddy Field Near Tewkesbury

Postby Cat » Sun Mar 19, 2006 12:24 am

But isn't it a sensual sounding language, even when all they're talking about is ripping people's arms off, splitting skulls (etc)?



User avatar
Gyrthofhwicce
Posts: 186
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2006 5:11 pm
Location: Bedfordshire
Contact:

Postby Gyrthofhwicce » Sun Mar 19, 2006 9:31 am

Tolkein will be turning in his grave. :cry:


Bear Claw Traders, bringing you the finest in Finnish Reindeer skins and utility and banquet knives. AND NOW, lovely shiney helmets

www.bearclawtraders.co.uk

User avatar
egfroth
Posts: 18
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2008 11:18 am
Location: Ozstralia
Contact:

Postby egfroth » Wed Jan 09, 2008 7:33 am

I dunno. Much as I love Old English, is it really right to make first year students learn what, at this remove in time, is effectively a foreign language, so they can appreciate pre-Conquest literature as part of the overall study of English?

I'm a bit conflicted on this. I'd LOVE to be forced to learn it. My pathetic attempts to teach myself have been pretty unsuccessful.

BTW, the headline is, of course, wrong. The language, even that far back, is still English. Call it Old English if you must, but it's still the same language. We don't call the French of 1000 years ago a different name, or the Greek of 2000 years ago. We just give it a qualifier - Old French, Classical (or Ancient) Greek.

The trouble is, this is only part of a campaign of dumbing down the Arts, in the name of "streamlining" and "bottom line", so beloved of the bean counters. So overall, however difficult it may be for a First Years student to learn it, I'm against dropping it.

We don't drop Physics or Chemistry from the Science syllabus because they're difficult and boring, do we? (and God, HOW boring!)



User avatar
kael
Posts: 195
Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2005 10:08 pm
Location: Leicester, UK
Contact:

Postby kael » Thu Jan 10, 2008 12:56 pm

I'd like to think a good English student would want to appreciate the original, taking a translation, trying to exact the correct meaning into modern English (when there might not be a direct word to translate to).



User avatar
Phil the Grips
Absolute Wizard
Posts: 2000
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2005 2:01 pm
Location: Auld Reekie- capital village o' Jockland
Contact:

Postby Phil the Grips » Thu Jan 10, 2008 1:06 pm

My point of comparison was doing Latin for ages and Classical Civilisation-one was translating from the original and the other was reading in translation.

If you didn't want to do the translation/learning another language then you did the civ. part alone and concentrated on the story/themes/culture etc.

Seems that this would work here- if you sign up for "English" then you do Beowulf in translation, if you sign up for "Old English" best start learning your grammar first.

One mavellous degree a mate of mine did in the US was called "The Western Canon" where they took the most influential books over the centuries, starting from the Bible, through Chaucer, Milton etc and finishing in the 1950s and read and discussed them individually and in comparison over the course of four years. Sounded great.


--Angels also carry weapons--
http://www.blackboarswordsmanship.co.uk/

User avatar
egfroth
Posts: 18
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2008 11:18 am
Location: Ozstralia
Contact:

Postby egfroth » Thu Jan 10, 2008 11:33 pm

To be perfectly honest, OE is not that different from modern English, if you keep the sentences simple and allow for the changes in spelling - "sc" is pronounced "sh", "g" often turns to a "y" sound when it's next to a vowel. And "cg" is pronounced "j", things like that.

I was reading through a short passage on OE with a friend of mine (actually he was reading it and I was occasionally correcting his pronunciation). He doesn't speak OE at all, and I'm only a little better, but we managed to make our way through the passage and figure out the meaning pretty well. He was quite amazed how simple it became once you got over the spelling/pronunciation hump.

Look at this from the New Testament in OE: (I've had to transliterate the"thorn" and "eth" symbols into "th", as I don't know how to do them on my computer)

"Soth ic secge eow; se the ne gaeth aet thaem geate sceapa falde, ac stihth elles ofer, he is theof and sceatha. Es the in-gaeth aet thaem geate, he is sceapa hierde"

And the translation:

Truly (sooth) I say to you; he ("se") who [does] not go in at the gate into the sheep fold, but climbs otherwise over ("else" is "otherwise" - like elsewhere), he is a thief and a robber. He who goes in by the gate, he is the shepherd."


Apart from some changes in the way the grammar works, there are two major words in that sentence we don't use today; stihth for climb and sceatha for robber. Not bad for something 1000 years old.

It occurs to me that a student of English could be given a passage from Beowulf in OE and a corresponding passage in Modern English and required to compare one with the other. Though Beowulf is more difficult. And readings in OE in the classroom during tutorials, perhaps?

The whole thing is that if we want students to realise that the body of OE literature is part of the whole corpus of English literature, it needs to be made accessible - you can't appreciate poetry in translation - it loses all its delicate nuances - but you can at least get some idea of how it works and sounds.

The problem for me is I can see both sides of the issue. It' a b**ger being a Libran.

Let's face it - most young people who enrol for "English" really aren't all that interested in learning a version they can't understand or use. If they're not into learning languages as I am, it's even worse.

Once upon a time, every educated person, in England at any rate, learnt Greek and Latin in school and was fluent in it on reaching University. So they could appreciate the works of Homer and Aeschylus (SP?) in the original Sadly, those days are gone. In these circumstances what chance is there for OE ?



User avatar
Izabela Pitcher
Posts: 113
Joined: Fri Aug 31, 2007 9:46 am
Location: Bedford
Contact:

Postby Izabela Pitcher » Sat Jan 12, 2008 11:44 am

Grammar in OE - definatelly helps, especially if English is not your first language, as it is the case with me - when I read it at the university, it was taught by a grammar maniac so learning it was painful at the time but much appreciated later. Also, I found that having studiued Latin earlier helped a great deal.
Whatever the pains of learning it , the satisfaction of being able to read and understand the original texts was enormous... well worth it:-)
Glad there are more people to appreciate it - so far most people would scorn it and the opinions I met with were mainly convinced that OE is completely redundant in any course of studies - after all nobody writes in it anymore, so why bother...
As you have already said, it is essential for every student of English - pite that most of them are reluctant to appreciate it.:-(


Izabela Pitcher
Prior Attire

User avatar
ViscontesseD'Asbeau
Posts: 299
Joined: Wed Nov 22, 2006 10:57 am
Location: Xanadu

Postby ViscontesseD'Asbeau » Tue Jan 15, 2008 8:34 pm

I did a degree in Eng Lang and Lit and opted to spend three years doing Old English, Old Norse and was forced to spend some time on Middle English but that was more boring, so I kept that to a minimum.

I was lucky enough to go to one of the few universities where Old Norse and OE were tught not as a noddy one year option, but continuously for the whole three years so theoretically you could just about get a degree where you'd only bothered with the old languages, although we were forced to water our's down with some later medieval stuff, you could still have enough options to just about keep awake most of the time- there's probably not many places you could do that, now. We also had the luxury of having tutorials as well as seminars and lectures where it would be just a couple of us to a tutor, so you could get a lot of work done.

The bibble passage above certainly seems to be pretty simple, simpler than anything I saw my first day at uni - that text is either late or very selective, is all I can think as I only wish most of the OE we saw was half that simple! You should be aware that there are many books out now with simple passages in, for teaching purposes, that have been very selectively culled from the latest and most accessible examples, as the new axe to grind seems to be 'OE really isnt that different to Mdn E'. Sugaring the pill, methinks. Such stuff is great for beginners and the self taught, but not really hard core enough to push anyone into being able to read and write fluently in OE (I can read it, but not write fluently in it).

In that simplification to keep the language alive, well there you have it - the whole thing is dumbed down to the point that it goes out of existence as self taught people seem to genuinely believe it's barely morphologically different to Mdn E (and that's deeply misguided).

I've noticed this with GCSE French too - a relative of mine, starting A Level French was proudly telling me about this obscure and difficult tense they expunge from GCSE texts and only teach them at A Level. We were taught it aged 14, for O Level. The emphasis now seems to be on getting bums on seats by making it as easy as possible, rather than showing people the true complexities - and beauties.

It's a balancing act between keeping the language alive by making it accessible - and keeping it real, not a lot of drab easily-translated stuff but the real McCoy.

Taking it out of Lit degrees is probably fine if you also run alternate undergrad courses with purely Old English and Old Norse, as I was lucky enough to have. The prestigious universities (as opposed to the old teacher training colleges that are suddenly deciding they are unis) will only stay prestigious if they are leagues above the rest, though, which means you should be able to opt to do ON and OE and very little else, day in day out for three years - like we did. Anything less is superficial and a disservice to the language.

By losing OE you risk throwing out the baby with the bath water. So long as philology exists in Oxbridge, and the redbricks, it's fine as from what I've seen it's only taught craply elsewhere. But once it goes from its old strongholds, we're at the mercy of the autodidacts and their howlers, keeping it alive.



User avatar
Aethelflaed
Posts: 6
Joined: Mon Jul 16, 2007 10:15 am
Contact:

Postby Aethelflaed » Fri Jan 18, 2008 5:29 pm

awyrgede boceras!

(Trans: bloody students!)



User avatar
egfroth
Posts: 18
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2008 11:18 am
Location: Ozstralia
Contact:

Postby egfroth » Fri Jan 18, 2008 11:27 pm

ViscontesseD'Asbeau I envy you immensely. I would dearly love to have had the opportunity to study OE properly. Unfortunately, it was not to be, so I'm one of those autodidacts who can barely string a simple sentence together.

The passage I quoted was certainly chosen for its simplicity. It was done to make a point - that whatever the changes in the intervening centuries, our modern language has strong roots in OE, and it is incorrect of modern students - and academics - to regard it as somehow "not English", to the degree that they call it by another name and drop OE works from the study of English literature.

This is an even more extreme form of the dumbing down you mention. You can't get much dumber than dropping the whole subject! And if the bean counters get it removed from literature courses (as "unpopular" and therefore not "economically viable"), how long will it last as a language study, even in the bastions?



User avatar
ViscontesseD'Asbeau
Posts: 299
Joined: Wed Nov 22, 2006 10:57 am
Location: Xanadu

Postby ViscontesseD'Asbeau » Sun Jan 27, 2008 2:01 am

I got no problem with them dropping it from the Eng Lit courses IF there were separate courses just for philiology, Old English, Old Norse, Indo-European, etc. Because I resented having to waste time (to fill out my 3 years) doing rubbish like Middle English and my mates who wanted to do post-structuralism or American Lit or something more funky than OE, resented the time they were forced to spend on OE. (Even if that did in fact just amount to one or two courses each week for the first year because they could opt to drop it entirely after that year anyways - like I dropped the Shakespeare!)

I've seen everything dumbed down in the past 20 years - from GCSEs, to old cr4ppy teacher training colleges being allowed to pretend they're universities - and dumbing down is the way it's going. Still think the top few unis should retain it, because good stuff filters down - and once the handful of us who can read and pronounce it have gone - what are you left with? A truly dead language being mangled by well-meaning folk. Something beautiful would be gone. But it was the bane of most of my mates' lives doing it - and the bane of some of our lives that we couldn't do it 100% of the time, instead of 90%!

Truth is, it's an elite subject that can't easily be dumbed down - and only ever was offered properly at maybe half a dozen unis (the rest do odd courses in Beowulf or whatever, and no Old Norse). So long as it survives, the scholarship continues, and the language doesn't die. Some of that expertise will inevitably trickle down. Once it's gone from the top - it's no longer there for the auto-didacts to consult, either. I think a handful of folk should be able to opt in to taking OE - it is our own language, our own culture. Also think maybe it's time on the broader, English curriculum, may have come - as I said, we had to have at least an O Level in a language to take English but now, from what I've seen certainly of my family members' French GCSE courses, it's so watered down as to be no preparation for further study of other languages. So I'm guessing the unis simply aren't getting the raw material in - students with some rudimentary grasp of how languages work. It's hard to see how they can proceed.

For the autodidacts I recommend Steve Pollington's First Steps. The Clark & Hall dictionary is now back in print, and there are some handy little 'word hoardes' around, massively improved from the stuff that was around a few years back. It's good that people outside the field have an interest - but not enough to keep the language alive. For that, it has to be taught at university level. But, as I say, maybe it would be better served by being hived off from mainstream Eng Lang and Lit courses, and given its own, separate degrees, so the scholarship remains and develops and there remain at least a few people around who can help the autodidacts.

:D




Return to “410-1100”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest