The easy and authentic way to speak "old English"

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Coraclebuilder
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The easy and authentic way to speak "old English"

Postby Coraclebuilder » Sun Jan 29, 2017 3:00 pm

Gainsaying what folk think but rather than try and speak what might be the written form of an "Anglo-Saxon" language would it not be better for living history and reenactment to freely use words we speak or have spoken today? No need for some strained academic accent either, just how you speak.

To begin see this Wiki article https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_E ... xon_origin
Personally I would ask if they all were Anglo-Saxon or rather were those of the speech of Eastern England even before the Roman Conquest but that is another asking for another post.

A word-hoard as in Plain English by Bryan Evans would be useful. See also Old English Sea-Terms by Katrin Thier, in it you can see that Vikings are afloat not in longships but aboard a thief-ship (þéof-scip).



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Re: The easy and authentic way to speak "old English"

Postby cal » Mon Jan 30, 2017 9:44 am

It is always so difficult getting the line between: (a) appearing authentic, (b) being authentic and (c) being able to talk to the general public


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Brother Ranulf
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Re: The easy and authentic way to speak "old English"

Postby Brother Ranulf » Mon Jan 30, 2017 4:31 pm

This would be exactly the same as pretending that modern Italians speak Classical Latin, simply because both languages share many words - but ignoring the differences in meaning, pronunciation, grammar and syntax.

So the premise is that this kind of speech can be pronounced as if it were made up of modern words:

We cildra biddath the, eala lareow, thaet thu taece us sprecan rihte, for tham ungelaerede we syndon and gewaemmodlice we sprecath


Although a huge part of modern English derives from Old English, pronunciation then was completely different to the way those same words sound today. The word knight, for example, has changed both its sound and its meaning - cniht in Old English meant a young man and sounded like k-niKHt. Anyone familiar with Scottish dialect will have a head start in the "correct" pronunciation of Old English - Scots dialect derives straight from the language of Anglo-Saxon exiles in lowland Scotland. This is one of the many strands of evidence for linguists to follow our language backwards in time.

If you say "right" in the way it is said today, you sound like a modern person. Say rriKHt-uh and you sound like an English person in the 5th to early 12th centuries.


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"Patres nostri et nos hanc insulam in brevi edomuimus in brevi nostris subdidimus legibus, nostris obsequiis mancipavimus" - Walter Espec 1138

Coraclebuilder
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Re: The easy and authentic way to speak "old English"

Postby Coraclebuilder » Mon Jan 30, 2017 9:42 pm

There is an immediate flaw in the parallel between Italians, speaking classical Latin, and my suggestion. First of all is there any evidence that anyone spoke "classical Latin"? It is possible that this Latin was simply the written form of the literary language, intelligible to all educated people of the time who actually spoke assorted dialects in Italy, as they still tend to do today and did much more so not so many years ago. Our son works in Italy and it is an eye-opener to visit him and discuss this with his Italian friends.

Then, accents, these are only purported for previous periods by a process of circular reasoning. For example, from "Middle English", something a lot of people will have heard is a teacher or academic twisting their mouths to recite Chaucer. Instead of this see through the spelling and just read the first section of his Prologue in a normal voice, easy isn't it and how natural.

Of course there would have been different and probably thicker accents back then and a multitude of dialects but to speak to each other a "plain English" would have been used. In a military formation this might well have been emphasised for clarity.



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Re: The easy and authentic way to speak "old English"

Postby Coraclebuilder » Mon Jan 30, 2017 9:48 pm

thaet thu taece us sprecan rihte That thou (you) teach us to speak right (correctly) and the problem is?



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Re: The easy and authentic way to speak "old English"

Postby Coraclebuilder » Mon Jan 30, 2017 9:53 pm

Another point is about living history. Do you talk so that visitors can be understood or mystify them with "your" version of authentic talk? Bear in mind that if the visitor were of the same period as that portrayed they would have no problem in understanding. Using English as I suggest does both, they hear authentic words and they can understand them.



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Re: The easy and authentic way to speak "old English"

Postby Medicus Matt » Mon Jan 30, 2017 10:32 pm

In more than two decades of re-enacting 410-1066, I've never once encountered anybody trying to converse with MOPs using Old English.
I've heard it spoken at events, just to given an example of how it might have sounded (I'm in the same group as Stephen Pollington so we all learn a bit just by osmosis) or when reciting a poem, but not to actually communicate information.

No more than Roman reenactors use latin as the norm, or indeed high medieval using Anglo-Norman or Middle English.


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Re: The easy and authentic way to speak "old English"

Postby Coraclebuilder » Mon Jan 30, 2017 10:43 pm

A lot of information on the Internet giving Roman military commands and other words that are employed in some reenactments. never heard them Matt?

Fortunately we can use both Old and Middle English in Living History, as I demonstrated above.




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Re: The easy and authentic way to speak "old English"

Postby FionaDowson » Tue Jan 31, 2017 8:05 pm

For anyone wishing to learn OE there's a lovely Canadian chap posting things on youtube under the banner leornende eald englisc. I particularly enjoyed 'how to insult in Old English' :)

https://leornendeealdenglisc.wordpress.com



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Re: The easy and authentic way to speak "old English"

Postby Coraclebuilder » Tue Jan 31, 2017 11:23 pm

"eald englisc"- and how would you pronounce that? could it be "old English"?



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Re: The easy and authentic way to speak "old English"

Postby Medicus Matt » Wed Feb 01, 2017 10:43 pm

Coraclebuilder wrote:A lot of information on the Internet giving Roman military commands and other words that are employed in some reenactments. never heard them Matt?

Fortunately we can use both Old and Middle English in Living History, as I demonstrated above.


I said "No more than Roman reenactors use latin as the norm"
Shouting commands at your own troops on the field is not the same as conversing in Latin with the public though, is it Edwin?


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Re: The easy and authentic way to speak "old English"

Postby Brother Ranulf » Thu Feb 02, 2017 1:05 pm

"eald englisc"- and how would you pronounce that? could it be "old English"?


At the risk of feeding the Troll, no it is not pronounced "old English" - that is the modern translation, not the pronunciation. The diphthong ea begins with the sound of e (as in "bed") and glides towards the back of the mouth, giving a sound similar to the vowel in "bared". Englisc begins with the same e sound, not with an i as does the modern English word.

It's worth pointing out that both Old English and Classical Latin are extremely inflected languages, meaning that pronouns, articles, nouns, adjectives, verbs and adverbs change their form depending on how they are being used in a sentence. Modern English and Italian have lost most of these inflections: for example the modern English word "the" stays the same for masculine, feminine, neuter, singular or plural nouns, no matter if they are used in the nominative, accusative, genitive or dative case, while Old English had se, seo, thaet, thone, tham, thaere, thaes, thara and tha depending on the accompanying noun - and all of them mean "the".


Brother Ranulf



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