Do you think someone should make an Old English (Ænglisc spræc) course?
What do all you duolinguists think about the possibility of creating a course for Old English. It would certainly be one of the more exotic languages to learn, but I'm sure some people out there in the world would be up to it. I know there are many linguists that study it. Also, what do you guys think about other dead languages like Old Norse, Ancient Greek, and Ancient Mayan? Let me know your thoughts.
I've actually applied with some friends to create a Gothic course! We are a long way from being accepted as there are many more applicants of living language courses but someday I hope to build the first complete, approachable Gothic course that is not geared toward academic linguists only. Benjamin P. Johnson has a great "Gothic for Goths" series on YouTube that I highly recommend as well, quite humorous and informative. Learning Gothic can really help with other early Germanic languages such as Old English, Old Norse, Old Saxon, etc. It's not too far removed from Proto-Germanic, as it is the earliest attested form of a Germanic language. :)
We actually have a good portion of the NT, not only the gospels, as well as a few deeds and a biblical commentary known as the "Skeireins." We have some runic transcriptions on spearheads etc. as well that are less important linguistic contributions but still neat. Check out: http://www.wulfila.be/ if you are interested!
"Restricted vocab"? "Negligible other sources"?
Maybe you've only been exposed to two Gospels and a couple of negligible other sources, but there are over 400 surviving manuscripts from the period, of which about 189 are considered "major". Beowulf alone has 40,000 words, while The Anglo Saxon Chronicle has somewhere around 70,000. Sure, the words in those documents aren't all unique, but Clark-Hall's Concise Dictionary of Old English has around 34,000 unique words - that's the same number of words as the current Merriam Webster concise dictionary, and while that's far less than the 170,000 words in current English usage, most people have a working vocabulary of only around 20,000 to 35,000 words, and on a daily basis the average person uses around 4,000 words, tops.
Duolingo's most word-intensive course has a vocabulary of just over 3200 words.
So there are more than enough words of Old English for a person to learn the language, and we even have a reconstructed phonology for it, so we are able to speak it every bit as well as the average person can speak his native language.
There even exist an wikipedia on the language, so of course there should be a Duolingo on it, see here:
about the english language: http://ang.wikipedia.org/wiki/N%C4%ABwenglisc_spr%C7%A3c
the wikipedia mainpage: http://ang.wikipedia.org/wiki/H%C4%93afodtramet
Many people seem to be confused about what Old English (Anglo-Saxon) actually is. It is not Shakespearean English. Shakespearean English is early Modern English. It is not even the language of Chaucer (Canterbury Tales), which is Middle English.
Old English was spoken from about 400-1100 and is quite different from Modern English. It is an inflected Germanic language. It will not help you learn Modern English or read Shakespeare or even Chaucer. It will, however, allow you to read the epic poem Beowulf and many other old poems and manuscripts in their original. For a sample of Old English, I have included Cædmon's Hymn below along with a modern translation so you can see just how different they are.
Nū scylun hergan hefaenrīcaes Uard,
metudæs maecti end his mōdgidanc,
uerc Uuldurfadur, suē hē uundra gihwaes,
ēci dryctin ōr āstelidæ
hē ǣrist scōp aelda barnum
heben til hrōfe, hāleg scepen.
Thā middungeard moncynnæs Uard,
eci Dryctin, æfter tīadæ
firum foldu, Frēa allmectig.
Now [we] must honour the guardian of heaven,
the might of the architect, and his purpose,
the work of the father of glory
as he, the eternal lord, established the beginning of wonders;
he first created for the children of men
heaven as a roof, the holy creator
Then the guardian of mankind,
the eternal lord, afterwards appointed the middle earth,
the lands for men, the Lord almighty.
I have worked through several over the last 12 or 18 months. Right now, the only one I am learning is !Old English Core Vocabulary. I am about halfway through that one and only pick it up once every month or two. Looking over the Anglo-Saxon category at the Memrise website, the only courses that I recognize that I have done Basic Old English I and II. I may have done more? I can't find where a list of courses I have taken and retired from is on Memrise. I liked that the latter half of the Basic Old English I was the conugations of wesan and habban.
I am trying to study Old English with my husband, and a Duolingo course would make things easier for us. We have a toddler that we would like to teach this to, and he can say "eale gedon" when he's all done, and, and, and...
I'm not as interested in non-English dead languages. Old Norse and Old German might be interesting because there's a bit of literature that has cultural similarities to Anglo Saxon.
We have Sweet's Anglo Saxon Primer and Aelfric's bible, as well as various dictionaries, there's Leofwin on Youtube, I just learned about Memrise, and we have a list of food-related vocabulary in the kitchen, so I know quite a bit of vocabulary. I am still a little shaky on the grammar. I am but an amateur linguist. My husband is the one with the degree.
Ah, poor Leofwin. Rest his soul. Have you seen Leornende Eald Englisc? https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLnwScGuOxVlaN5aV9in9ag
Yeah, that is fair as well. You can kind of start to see how European languages tie in to one another after you try to learn a few as well, hey? It'd be awesome if they also provided some material about the root/source of words. Duo could be such a useful tool for so many more people than it already is. :D
I studied Old English at university (Leeds, UK - many decades ago!) One of the advantages of learning it is that there are not that many surviving texts, so the vocabulary pool is quite small. There are some wonderful poems: The Wanderer, and The Seafarer, well worth learning the language so that you can read them.
Yes, I've more or less taught myself to read Chaucer, primarily by using side-by-side versions as well as prior intense reading of Shakespeare and the King James Bible. A little German is helpful too (there are cognates no longer common in Modern English, an early easy one is Holt), and the grammar is slightly more Germanesque too (also true of Shakespeare). Note that Chaucer is not exactly highbrow literature - it's chock full of off-color jokes and political satire. No, really, it is. If you find yourself wondering, "Hey, is he really talking about that?" the answer is yes, he probably is.
When I was in high school, my English teacher assigned the Canterbury Tales to the class. We were to present one of the stories as an oral presentation to the class.
One person in the class found a modern translation and presented the story from the Wife of Bath. Needless to say, that was the last oral presentation.
- Hopefully it'll be added soon!
That's not good :( I have so many of the AS Books and they're my go to publisher for books on the Dark Ages.
I have the Pollington OE book and cds and I've really enjoyed learning from them, but I do find myself sometimes wanting more information on specific points, e.g. if I can't work out why a certain rule applies in a particular case. Books alone will only take you so far. Duolingo only takes you so far too, which is why I've bought 'Complete Norwegian' to use alongside Duo's Norwegian tree. I think if anyone wants to learn seriously (and with OE you pretty much have to be serious about learning it) they will look for more depth than Duolingo offers. And if they're not that serious the £25 price tag* for Pollington's book would probably put them off too :/
*it's well worth the price
Had he considered that people might pay him to participate in this process? I'd gladly contribute to a crowdfunding campaign for this. As for the death of books, what is worse, less people buying it or less people reading it? Do libraries kill book sales? Why should Duolingo?
I agree completely. I suppose the reason is there are more die-hard /Star trek/ fans than linguists (and also linguists have it harder because there are many ancient languages and Klingon is a single language). I wouldn't be surprised (although I'd be quite annoyed) if we got a Quenya course before and Old English course.
I would LOVE an old English or Old Norse course. One of the failings of Duolingo is that it doesn't have courses for dead languages. I have been studying Old English for the past couple weeks, and one of the wonderful things about it was that since i basically knew basic German grammar, I was able to learn OE grammar with ease. And since Old Norse Grammar is very similar to OE, it would be very easy to learn that as well. I would be eternally grateful for an OE course.
Anglo-Saxon would be an important language to learn especially for those interested in the history of England and the English language. Some of the most important pieces of writing are in Anglo-Saxon and it would be just as satisfying to read as Biblical Hebrew or Ancient Greek. Please create the course!
For anyone who wants to try it, I have a Memrise course teaching Old English grammar:
And some vocabulary:
All based off the free University of Texas at Austin website of Indo-European Languages:
I wrote a phrasebook for folks who want to practice conversational OE: https://www.amazon.com/Everyday-Old-English-Anglo-Saxon-Phrasebook/dp/1977818153/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1512050439&sr=8-2&keywords=t.+patrick+snyder
I have a few other OE books, if you click my name, you can see a few others.
I would really love an Ænglisc course. I took a class in uni, but now I want to keep learning it and duolingo would be really helpful. And if they have Klingon and High Valerian, surely Old English isn’t LESS relevant irl xD Especially with its connections to various modern languages, and with the fascinating texts that have been written in OE
I would like to study Old English (and Old Norse as well) as I am interested in all European languages in general, and Germanic, Romance, Celtic and Finno-Uralic languages in particular.
Besides general interest, I can actually think of several fields where knowledge of Old English could be useful: History of the Germanic people and Germanic studies , historical linguistics, Beowulf studies and of course, missiology as the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons have occured when they still spoke Old English.
I also do not think that Old English is that exotic. It should be fairly similar to Dutch and I personally also find it quite similar to German (which is of course,a Western Germanic language just like Old English).
And one last suggestion: For those who are interested in the history of the English languages, I would also suggest to add courses in Middle English, Sccotish Gaelic, Cornish, Scots, Old Norse and Latin.
what about this as a course, or is this the same as you are talking about? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIo-17SIkws https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linguistic_purism_in_English
I would definately take a course in old English. I've been teaching myself the basics with a textbook I found so I can recite poetry and read old facsimiles of texts. I found a copy of Alice in Wonderland and the Little Prince translated too but its been the audio stuff like Benjamin bagby reciting Beowulf or some online recordings of the seafarer and stuff that really helps. I would love an interactive course like duolingo.
Yes! I'm trying to learn Old English on YouTube. I think Duolingo would be much better. I also REALLY want to learn Old Norse and Latin. I'm doing Latin with a Compass Classroom DVD called Visual Latin. It's pretty good, but not free. You can buy it at https://www.compassclassroom.com/latin/visual-latin Ancient Greek, Ancient Hebrew and Aramaic would be good. Then we could read the original manuscripts of the Bible!
I've got Sweets Anglo-Saxon dictionary & Complete Old English, by Mark Atherton but learning from books pales in comparison to programmes like Duolingo. I really hope Old English is added to Duolingo. in the mean time, I've started on Memrise.
Of course! I am not a native English speaker, but I seek to speak it like a native, learning Old English may help me improve grammar, pronunciation, words I never heard, etc. Besides it would be a new challenge, it would be like learning English again, but differently.
Actually, I don't really think learning Old English will help you speak Modern English at all. They are very different languages with different grammars and speakers of English can not read Old English. While some of the words are the same, Modern English has had a large influx of vocabulary from French and other languages and the Germanic words that have survived generally have very different pronunciation due to the Great Vowel Shift in the history of English, which might only confuse you more.
Of course, I still encourage you to learn it if you are interested in Old English literature and poems but I just wanted to warn you that it is very different from Modern English so it won't help you much with that.
Well, I wasn't referring to something like feeling familiarised with it, like hat happens with a Spanish speaker when this reads something in Portuguese, a lot of it can be understood.
I was referring to something like:
Maybe the accented letters, like the í, may make me tell the difference if an i is pronounced like in "Swine" or like in "Fatigued", if a word like that is still in Modern English; well, that's what I suppose, it might work only in some words, or not at all.
Those are actually good examples of why I don't think Old English would help you learn Modern English, even pronunciation.
"Swine" is from an Old English word "swīn" which would have been pronounced with an "ee" vowel like "keen". But English went through a "Great Vowel Shift", which is why many English vowels are pronounced different than other European languages.
"Fatigue", however, came into English from French, which is why the "i" is pronounced differently.
I guess learning Old English would help you know which English words have a Germanic origin and which came into English from French and other languages, but the pronunciation will still be dramatically different than Modern English so it seems to me it would only cause more confusion (and that's not even going into how different the grammar is). It would be like learning German to improve your English; they're essentially completely different languages.
It's not a bad idea and for some other languages it might work but English has a pretty complicated past, having studied Old English before, I'm just offering my opinion on the strategy of learning Old English in an attempt to improve your Modern English.
I would totally learn Old English. Seriously, English in all its stages is so super awesome.
Latin also has my vote, and so will Icelandic (and Greenlandic) in a moment, but Old English is another old language I really want to learn, and there really aren't many good resources for learning it.
Great! Sounds like a plan! It would be an exotic piece in the course collection of Duolingo. I looked "Ænglisc spræc" on Google and found this playlist on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLGd00wQDhivv6xBwrBh4zsk-ZaVmzKbcY
Hope it helps and good luck on your journey!