Episode 103: Solitary Confinement

The early 13th century saw the rise of a monastic movement in which men and women locked themselves away in secluded cells to practice their religion.  These monks were known as anchorites, and an early Middle English text called the “Ancrene Wisse” was composed as a guide for female anchoresses who adopted this lifestyle.  The text is considered one of the most important works composed in early Middle English period.  It features a large number of common loanwords that were used in English for the first time. In this episode, we examine the historical context of the Ancrene Wisse and some of the common loanwords that were introduced in the manuscript.

10 thoughts on “Episode 103: Solitary Confinement

  1. Great as always! I have a question.

    You mention how “Save” and “salvation” are cognate, but I wondering where the “l” came from in “salvation”. Also is the word “salvo” related?

    Also I pronounce the “H” in history except when using a/an. I always say “an historic” or “an historical”. It sounds like stuttering if i force myself to say “a historic”. Strange…

    Thanks as always for your work on this podcast.

    • Hi Ken. The original Latin root of “save” and “salvation” had an ‘l’. The root was “salvare,” and it meant ‘to be in good health’ or ‘to make safe and secure.’ So “salvation” retains the original ‘l’, whereas “save” has lost it. In fact, the word “save” was rendered as “seoluen” in the Ancrene Wisse. So “save” was still being pronounced with a /l/ sound at that time, but the spelling had changed by the late 1200s to omit the ‘l.’

      With respect to a possible connection to “salvo,” the OED says that it is indeed cognate with “save” and “salvation.” “Salvo’ is ultimately derived from the same root, and more specifically, it is derived from the Roman salute “salve” which meant “Hail!” So in that sense, a “salvo” was a type of military greeting or introduction.

  2. Hi Kevin,
    You said that if you reached your Patreon goal we would get a guaranteed 20 hours per year of new content. Apparently the goal was reached, and the 16 episodes released in 2017 total 16 hours and 10 minutes. Do you plan on reaching that target of 20 hours?

    • Hi Bob. I intend to release one more regular episode before the end of the year. With respect to the 20 hours of new content, I am counting the bonus Patreon episodes as part of total. Ideally, I would like to produce 20 regular episodes each year, plus the Patreon episodes, but I think the regular content would suffer too much if I maintained that schedule. I would have to skimp on the research or cut the episode length back. So I am relying on the bonus episodes to fill in the time gap between regular episodes and also to satisfy the content promise. I hope that makes sense.

      • I found the episode where you said you’d reached your Patreon goal. It was episode 89 back in January. You said that this guaranteed you would release 20 episodes this year, and you specifically stated that this meant you would be up to episode 108 by the end of the year. So the promise was definitely for 20 MAINSTREAM episodes.

        • As I noted above, I would like to produce 20 ‘regular’ episodes each year. I begin each year with that goal, but over the past year, I elected to focus on providing more exclusive bonus content for patrons. I originally planned to produce a small number of bonus episodes during the year, but I eventually decided to produce a Patreon episode in between each regular episode. That ensured that the patrons received a lot more exclusive bonus content. With that shift in focus, I re-directed my goal towards 20 hours of content (rather than a specific number of episodes). That is what the official goal at Patreon says.

          Anyway, since there is an expectation of 20 ‘regular’ episodes for this year based on my earlier comments, I will try to reach that goal, but I will probably run over into the first week or two of January. The next episode should be ready next week, and I might be able to squeeze in another before the end of the year. The remaining two episodes will appear in early January. If that time frame is problem, I encourage you to contact me by email and we can discuss it further.

  3. Another great episode. I wanted to add a footnote on the etymology of “journey”. French has a suffix that turns a “thing” into a “thingfull”. So we have the pairs jour / journée (day / day long) soir / soirée (evening / duration of an evening), poign / poignée (hand / handfull) and so on. Strangely, it converts the noun to feminine, if it was masculine. So un jour and une journée.

  4. Hi, Kevin–Thanks, great job! I have a doubt, though, about the word “diet. ” It derives from Greek δίαιτα (“way of life”), unrelated, as it seems, to Latin “dies.”

    • Hi Arkadi. You’re correct. It was a mistake on my part. The word “diet” as in ‘an assembly’ is derived from “dies,” but the word “diet” as in ‘food’ is derived from the root you mentioned. I got the two versions of “diet” mixed up. The word “diet” as in ‘food’ was used for the first time in the Ancrene Wissse, but that version of the word is unrelated to “journey.” I’ll try to make a correction in the next episode.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *