Oldest English words that are still in use today
The words "I" and "who" are among the oldest words in use today, along with the words "two", "three", and "five". The word "one" is only younger by the slightest bit. The sounds used then for these meanings were most likely very similar to those used today.
(The word "four" experienced a linguistic evolutionary leap that makes it significantly younger in English and different from other Indo-European languages.)
Some words that might change soon are "squeeze", "stick", and "bad". "Dirty" is a word that changes quickly; as of currently, there are 46 different ways of saying "dirty" in the Indo-European languages, each very unrelated. Because of this, it is likely to die out soon in English, along with words such as "stick" and "guts".
Another word invented over a thousand years ago (before the year 900) is "town", which was coined in Middle English and Old English (in Middle English it was "toun" or "tun", which is slightly different but similar).
What other old words in English are still in use today?
As a complete noob to language studies, how are these things measured? Like when in the history of bronze age Briton, through celtic, then the roman era, angle and saxon, danes and nose, normandy, etc does it count as English or whatever? I did just google, but you just get time periods which aren't very helpful when you're trying to work out oldest words. Is it just words that haven't been incorporated from other languages or do the anglicised versions of those count?
I'm interested in the word dirty disappearing as it's still in really common usage, how do they predict these things?
I also wonder this. I assume the criterion would be words that have descended in recognizable form from Old English and that aren't borrowings from the Danelaw, Normans, or anybody else, but some of the examples given don't comport with this: "I" seems an innovation of Middle English, and "who" was "hwa" in Old English.
"guts" from "guttas" comparatively identifiable, though :)
I know this doesn't really answer your question, but what I find really amazing about languages, especially the English language, is that it's ever-evolving. Words spoken in the 1600s may have different connotations and meanings in modern day. Sometimes, it has to do with how they are used in society, which means a word with multiple definitions may retain them, but one specific definition may dominate the rest based on how the people implement it in common speech. For example, I assume everyone understands what "gay" means nowadays, however, the older use of the language is to express one who is in a "merry mood", who is "lively". I don't hear or see anyone use the term "gay" to convey "happiness", unless it's in older novels. Another, and my favorite, is the word "conversation". In the past, I believe this word meant "the manner of one's life". So, a conversation is how you present or conduct yourself in life. It's a bit similar to the modern definition, but it also conveys much more. The manner of your life is often expressed by your actions and speech, which relates deeply to how we use the term "conversation", and how conversation is actually performed.
The question for me is, how do some of these Old English words transition to the usage we are so familiar with currently in society? (I suppose I kind of answered my own question in my post)
Ah, languages are so intriguing, and so are your thoughtful posts!
In certain versions of the Bible (which can be a good or a bad thing - keep in mind that we're not all religious here; I get rather tired of some of the bible-thumping that occasionally goes on) - there are plenty of translations that don't use thee/thy/thou. Historically, Quakers used thee/thou and such, but from what I know that's not as common as it once was. I doubt that it would be used much by the Amish, who generally speak Pennsylvania German (and Pennsylvania German-influenced English), or the Mennonites, who come from a similar German Pietist tradition.
I agree, I wasn't talking about the Bible in particular, I was just mentioning that, the people that read older books like that, usually use some of the older words. And there are still a lot of those people. Also, from what I understand there is just one translation of the bible in English, but there are several versions of it. The newer versions (New King James) are the ones that don't have words like thee/thy/thou/though, but that is so people that can't understand it can read it. And as for the Amish, they were originally Mennonite. They broke off from the Mennonites because they believed the rules were not strict enough. The Mennonites are followers of the Menno Simons, the Menno Simons were a group of believers that started around the Netherlands in the 15hundreds. Their founder/leader lived his last 18 years in Germany but he was not German.
There are many translations of the bible into English: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_English_Bible_translations#Complete_Bibles Yes, some of them are different "generations" of one translation, but many are not.
Apparently "woman" originated from "wifman," which displaced the earlier "wif," so was actually a late "arrival" to Old English: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=woman
'Pojke' is a Finnish loanword into Swedish, so it doesn't have a Germanic root (or even an Indo-European one)- it comes from 'poika', meaning the same.
I'm of the opinion that 'cowpoke' is nothing more complicated than 'somebody who pokes extremely stubborn animals to get them moving'. Giving cattle a 'friendly' jab with something pointy is a tried and tested method of getting them from A to B.
That is good to know, about pojke coming from an other-than-IE root.
At least in my local Texas vernacular, cowpoke is very much a male word, to the point that in some particularly western-theme venues, cowpoke is used to denote men's restrooms or something similar, i.e. men's clothing or fitting rooms.
Your suggested etymology brings to mind, at least to me, crackers, or whip-crackers who would crack their whips to keep the cattle moving.
Among the several ranchers I know, they don't really poke cattle to get their attention or to move them. They prefer to shoot them with low-powered pistol rounds, mostly designed for dispatching (rattle)snakes at close ranges.
English country lanes are very narrow. Outside of your fields, you're never that far away from your cattle. If they're out of stick range, you always have dogs.
Country roads here are narrow enough that you can herd cattle down them with a lead and a follower with a stick each and a couple of dogs.
Seems "cowpoke" may be a fairly recent coinage: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=cowpoke Additional at least circumstantial evidence of this could be that it doesn't seem to appear in the Compact OED (which reflects the 1933 OED).
I draw an interesting question from this - when we talk about old words that have not changed, do we mean in pronunciation or in spelling? Spelling in English was more descriptive and less prescriptive until the Chauncery standard of the early 16th century, so words that sounded then a lot like they do today often were spelled differently. Genog sounded very similar to enough, sufficiently that I would argue that it would qualify for the list.
That is certainly the kind of question that would have to be pinned down to investigate such a question. Inasmuch as that initial "g" arose in an era when spelling was more phonetic, I think one would suppose that the pronunciation has likely changed, and in a way that obfuscates connections more readily than such things as the "t" in "often" coming to be unpronounced several centuries ago and then arising again much more recently owing to spelling pronunciation.