Saturday, September 25, 2010

Anglo Saxon

I have started new studies - learning Anglo Saxon and am continuing my quest to follow in the footsteps of the master. For those who are unfamiliar with the term "genitive", the Oxford Concise defines it as "case of nouns etc. in inflected languages, corresponding to of, from and other prepositions with noun representing source, possessor, etc." In other words it is "that man's book" "that woman's car" or "leaves from that tree". If you have ever wondered why there is an apostrophe indicating possession (except when it is 'its' because of the confusion with the contraction 'it is'), the genitive of Anglo Saxon (otherwise known as Old English) is manes, wifmanes, treowes. Apostrophes replace a missing letter and, in the case of Modern English, it is an 'e' that is missing from the possessive. So now you know.
Also on my list of words to commit to memory is flet, meaning floor. If that word sounds familiar to you, it is because it is what the elves of Lorien called their homes which were nothing more than a floor up in the trees. Flet can also mean a 'hall, mansion'.

7 comments:

Tracy said...

Good luck with your studies! The Anglo Saxon age is generally even less well-known than the Medieval age by most people - we tend to think of anything immediately post-Roman as 'The Dark Ages' - there was a very good BBC programme (which I only managed to watch two episodes of, as usual) called The Seven Ages of Britain - and the first Age featured was this Age of Conquest.

Flets featured in Fellowship of the Ring, with silvery ladders leading up to them, if I remember correctly?

anachronist said...

Start learning Polish or Russian and you will have plenty of inflection - in fact more than you wish! It's like Latin only weirder. Saxon genitive is practically harmless!

The Red Witch said...

The Dark Ages were not so dark and the barbarians were not as savage as they have been made out by the ecclesiastes who were concerned with taking their beliefs and culture away from them.
You remember correctly.
Some day I may tackle a Slavic language but, if I have some free time and brain cells to spare, I might one day tackle Welsh first. It gets harder as I age.

Tracy said...

I agree the Dark Ages weren't so dark - I think you'd enjoy the book or DVD of The Seven Ages of Britain - a look back at our history as revealed by our art, and Anglo Saxon art was pretty vibrant.

Welsh! My partner can speak welsh a little, since he lived in Cardiff until he went to Uni, and I can pronounce most welsh words - but I only know three welsh phrases - Nos da cariad, dim parcio and croeso y Gymru! (Goodnight darling, no parking and welcome to Wales!)

And apparently, today is European Languages Day.

anachronist said...

Welsh is super-weird but adorable!

Tracy said...

I found out that the word wilderness is from Old English - from wild deor nes, meaning 'land inhabited by undomesticated deer' (from Salvaging Nature - Indigenous Peoples, Protected Areas and Biodiversity Conservation by Marcus Colchester) - judging by the number of muntjac deer in these islands these days, wilderness includes an awful lot of gardens!


As an aside, I bet you could create a whole new language based on the word verification used on this site - today's word is varknath, which sounds like something Orcish.

The Red Witch said...

We can blame a lot of strangeness in our language to the Anglo Saxons.