Talk:Old English

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 Definition The English language as it was from about the middle of the fifth century until around the middle of the twelfth century (also known as Anglo-Saxon). [d] [e]
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 Workgroup categories Linguistics and Literature [Categories OK]
 Talk Archive none  English language variant British English


Beowulf survives in its entirety, except for some very small lacunae. The text of this article should be revised to reflect that. Michel van der Hoek 20:10, 28 April 2008 (CDT)

Changed - how about this? John Stephenson 21:28, 28 April 2008 (CDT)

Old English v. Anglo-Saxon

What's the rationale for having this article live at 'Old English' rather than 'Anglo-saxon'? My very subjective, imprecise sense is that unlike Middle English, academics usually refer to the language as Anglo-saxon (this despite the fact that the standard linguistic abbreviation for Anglo-saxon is "OE"). Is this impression incorrect? Brian P. Long 07:59, 29 April 2008 (CDT)

Hunh. I just checked in Hock's 'Principles of Historical Linguistics', and Hock seems to use Old English for the language, and only uses Anglo-saxon a couple of times. Interesting... Brian P. Long 08:01, 29 April 2008 (CDT)
Among philologists, "Old English" is really the only term used for this stage of the English language. "Anglo-Saxon" is a term usually reserved for studies on the culture of the people who spoke the language. I guess every once in a while you see "Anglo-Saxon" used for the language, but it's very rare. You can start another article "Anglo-Saxon" reflecting this difference in usage. Michel van der Hoek 23:54, 6 May 2008 (CDT)
I have to agree even if it may be a bit imprecise. I rarely ever see it referred to as Anglo-Saxon. Thomas Simmons 00:17, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
My friend who studied it as a compulsory part of his English course at Oxford in the 60s always called it Anglo-Saxon: a British/American distinction perhaps? Ro Thorpe 01:25, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
It's probably not so much a British/American distinction as a 1960s versus 2000s distinction. The term Anglo-Saxon used to be much more common for the language. It goes back to the early 19th century, when ethnic interests and linguistic research went hand in hand (think of the Romantic interest in ethnicity). In German, the term angelsächsisch (abbreviated ags) remains common. In English-language research, however, Anglo-Saxon has come to be more and more restricted to cultural, anthropological, and archaeological aspects of the period, while in linguistics, philology, and literature (everything to do with the language), the terms have been standardized with reference to the modern equivalent (Old, Middle, Modern English). This is not to say that "Anglo-Saxon" as a term to refer to the language is wrong or even particularly unusual. I do believe, however, that the modern practice makes sense--it's more precise. Is there a disambiguation page for "Anglo-Saxon"? That might help people like Ro's friend who may still use the older term. Michel van der Hoek 14:46, 18 August 2009 (UTC)

Title Case or lowercase?

'Old English' is indeed a better term, in line with 'Old High German' etc. But what is your reason for recapitalising 'origin'? Ro Thorpe 15:49, 18 August 2009 (UTC)

It's a noun. They usually get capitalized in titles. I just thought I had overlooked it.Michel van der Hoek 19:10, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
Yes, but article names aren't titles. See: CZ:Naming Conventions#Typographical and Stylistic Rules (which is). Ro Thorpe 20:56, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
Hmm. I looked at that link, Ro, and got really confused. They make a rule about not using title case in subheadings and then if you look at the actual page of that link, the smart people of CZ themselves use both title case and lowercase for their subheadings. I have always used title case for subheadings on CZ thus far and have encountered it widely elsewhere on CZ in articles I did not write or participate in. Frankly, I prefer title case. So what are we going to do now? Michel van der Hoek 01:19, 19 August 2009 (UTC)
Hi, Michel, let me interject here. I haven't looked at the actual rules for a while, but I do know this: CZ convention is to capitalize ONLY the first words in titles, both for articles and header titles unless the word in question is a proper noun. Ie, we have articles called Pommes Anna, but Confit of duck, Bolognese sauce, and Catalog of World No. 1 male tennis players. This may not be the way we (you, or I, or Ro, say) would prefer to do it, but that's the CZ way. And ditto for section headings within the article. Only the first word is in caps -- at the Pancho Gonzales article, for instance, we have The most famous match ever played and Final professional years. Hope that this is clear. Hayford Peirce 01:39, 19 August 2009 (UTC)
Thanks, Hayford, you explain it much better than I did, so I'm glad to lose out in the edit conflict.
The reason for the rule, I have always assumed, is that CZ is intended to be child-friendly. I guess title case is reserved for the older pupils... Ro Thorpe 01:59, 19 August 2009 (UTC)
Hehe. I always assumed it was some wretched Brit usage, from the people who seem to be trying to do away with capitals altogether.... Hayford Peirce 02:02, 19 August 2009 (UTC)
WOT ME GUV? Ro Thorpe 02:04, 19 August 2009 (UTC)
Wow, I'll have to change my ways then, and clean up after myself. I've been going with title case everywhere. (Not just me either, I've noticed).Michel van der Hoek 04:01, 19 August 2009 (UTC)
No one has ever tried systematically to put this into effect -- it's always been on an ad hoc basis as someone like Ro or me or Howard notices that caps are being used in some article or other. As I recall, when I joined two years ago I was very much into using Caps all over the place. Took me a while to learn not to. Hayford Peirce 04:21, 19 August 2009 (UTC)
Michel has an important point when he says he was confused by the CZ pages not practising/practicing what they preach. They should be changed, so that the bit in italics (Aside: content policies such as this one do not necessarily apply to pages that are not in the article namespace. As it happens, most CZ policy pages, e.g. CZ:The_Author_Role, use title case.) can be removed. Ro Thorpe 10:55, 19 August 2009 (UTC)
At least no-one is SHOUTING! John Stephenson 11:24, 19 August 2009 (UTC)

Let's at least have a clear policy stated somewhere. Just incorporate it in one of the intro articles on formatting and style. And perhaps someone ought to move this discussion to a more appropriate place and out of the talk page for Old English, for goodness sake. Otherwise only those who watched that wretched "Beowulf" movie will use correct case... Michel van der Hoek 13:58, 19 August 2009 (UTC)

I'll put it into a Forum thread after I have breakfast. Hayford Peirce 14:50, 19 August 2009 (UTC)
I've just started a new thread in the Forums at,2826.msg22834.html#msg22834 and copied all of the above there. Hayford Peirce 16:19, 19 August 2009 (UTC)

Phonetic aids to pronunciation

It would be helpful to produce a phonetic guide here or at least on a supplemental page if anyone has the time. Numerous letters are unfamiliar to the average reader and vowel combinations are going to be unfamiliar to some. A phonetic guide would make it user friendly. Thomas Simmons 00:17, 18 August 2009 (UTC)

Western Michigan has a nice page that is pretty straightforward and easy to follow with modern day equivalents at [1] Thomas Simmons 00:43, 18 August 2009 (UTC)

More good sources at University of Calgary [2] and this page has sound scripts.

University of Virginia with recorded reading accompanying a modern English text using (possible) pronunciation of OE [3] Thomas Simmons 00:53, 18 August 2009 (UTC)

Here is an extensive collection of sources put together by a librarian. Lots of interesting work available on the internet [4] Thomas Simmons 01:27, 18 August 2009 (UTC)

I believe they're called thorn (þ), edh (ð) and ash (æ). See International Phonetic Alphabet for the latter two; thorn is like theta (θ). Ro Thorpe 01:39, 18 August 2009 (UTC)