The early Christian Church in Britain gradually embraced English as a way to spread to the message of the Church to the masses. This required the translation of Christian words and concepts from Latin into English. In this episode, we explore how English was used to represent the new religious ideas which were rapidly expanding across Britain. We also explore the many words and phrases which originated from this process and which still exist in Modern English. Check out the ‘Texts’ tab for the written version of Caedmon’s Hymn and the Ruthwell Cross inscription discussed in this episode.
The kingdom of Northumbria emerged as a center of scholarship and learning during the 7th century. We explore the political and religious events which led to the Northumbrian Renaissance. We also explore the importance of strategic marriages and marital terms in Old English. Lastly, we look at the first known poet in the English language – a cowherd named Caedmon.
Old English poets were ‘word weavers’ who often created new words to comply with the strict requirements of Germanic poetry. In this episode, we explore the role of the traveling minstrel in Anglo-Saxon culture. We also explore the etymology of many Modern English words related to travel.
We complete our look at the first Old English alphabet by exploring the remaining letters of the original alphabet. The north-south divide resulted in distinct letters and different spelling conventions. But over time, these differences blended together. Once again, we examine how these initial spelling rules impacted Modern English spellings.
As the sounds of English evolved in the 7th century, the first English scribes began to write the language with the Roman alphabet. But the English scribes had to invent ways to represent the unique sounds of Old English. In this episode, we explore the first English alphabet and the lingering effect of that alphabet on modern English spellings.
The sound of English began to change as soon as the first Anglo-Saxons arrived in Britain. We explore the specific sound changes which occurred and the impact which those changes had on modern English.
In this episode, we explore the events which led to the first document written in the English language – the laws of Aethelbert of Kent. We look at the rise of monasteries, the role of St. Patrick in the conversion of the Irish, the missionary work of Pope Gregory and St. Augustine, and the political and religious significance of King Aethelbert’s conversion to Christianity. We then explore the language of the laws of Aethelbert.
How do you pronounce ‘buoy’? In this bonus episode, we explore the history of the word and the reasons why the word is pronounced differently in various parts of the English-speaking world.
We explore the early Anglo-Saxon kingdoms and their regional Old English dialects. The ‘Saxons’ soon become the ‘English.’ And ‘English’ provides the name of a new nation.
During the period of the Anglo-Saxon migrations, the West Germanic tribes of northern Europe continued to fight for power against the Romans and against each other. This period saw the emergence of the High German dialects, the creation of the Frankish Empire, and the decline of the continental Saxons. We explore the linguistic consequences of these events. We then examine many of the Frankish words which passed into French, and then into English.