Episode 48: The Unity of Alfred’s English

After defeating the Danes, King Alfred set about reforming the educational system of Wessex. His reforms promoted English to an unprecedented level.  His reforms required the translation of many texts from Latin to English, and Alfred himself assisted with those translations. He also issued a new legal code and initiated the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.  One of Alfred’s goals was the unification of the Anglo-Saxon people under Wessex leadership, so we explore the history of English words related to unity.

6 thoughts on “Episode 48: The Unity of Alfred’s English

  1. Hi Kevin! I just listened to this episode yesterday…I love all the crazy related intertwining histories of our words…the piece about PIE Yoogum, and all the cognate words that have come out of it is pretty wild!

    One thing I can’t help but think is how amazing it is that words persist so strongly through history. They truly are our linguistic fossils, it’s incredible. You’ve got me completely hooked, I probably look up etymologies twice a day now, it’s definitely changing the way I look at language.

    Thank YOU KEVIN for producing such asskicking episodes!!! I totally love listening to them, and I get so excited about it. What you’ve done by bringing all of these stories together is deeply inspiring..I often times ask people I meet if they have any heros in their life…well, you are absolutely one of my heros.

    • Hi Jared. Thanks for the compliments. Your comments remind me to the old saying, “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” That pretty much summarizes my efforts in putting the podcast together. 😉

  2. I knew the connection between the words yoga, yoke and jugular but never new quite how many other words we have from the same Proto Indo-European root word “yueg” fascinating

    It is interesting also that Persian is similar to English in that it as has the words “Khoob, Behtar, Behtarin” for Good, Better Best. Weird coincidence perhaps?

    • I don’t know enough about Persian to answer your question, but obviously it is an Indo-European language. So maybe there is a connection.

      • I think the words are cognate. It’s hard to find much on Persian etymology on line, but there are words where both Persian and English have close resemblances due to having changed little from the Proto Indo-European Eg. Brother/barodar daughter/dokhtar.

        I was more remarking on the fact that both languages have different roots for the words good and better/best. I was under the impression that this was quite a unique feature of English. I looked more into it and its actually very common in Indo-European languages, and even in some other language families. Bad, worse and worst is also interesting for the same reason.

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