Episode 35: English Sounds and Roman Letters

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.

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Episode 33: Missionaries and Manuscripts

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.

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Episode 31: Saxons, Franks and Other West Germans

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.

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Episode 29: The Anglo-Saxon Invasion

The Anglo-Saxons arrived in the British shores as permanent settlers in the 5th century. They encountered native Britons who spoke Latin and Celtic languages. The two groups soon fought for control of the region we know today as England.  We explore this period of ‘lost’ history by examining the few pieces of written and archaeological evidence which survive.

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Episode 27: Broken Empire and Fractured Languages

Parchment books begin to replace papyrus scrolls as the Western Roman Empire crumbles. New Germanic Kingdoms emerge in the west, but Latin remains the dominant language in Western Europe.  Latin itself begins to fracture without the Roman educational system to hold it together.  Meanwhile, Gothic words begin to filter into early Spanish.

Map courtesy of Louis Henwood

Map courtesy of Louis Henwood

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Episode 26: Imperial Crisis and the Goths

Rome is racked by ‘Imperial Crisis’ while strong Germanic tribes gather along the Rhine and Danube. The Alamanni, Franks, Vandals and Goths rise to power and provide us with many words in modern English. The Goths translate the Bible into their Germanic language.  We then compare the Gothic language to Old English.

Map courtesy of Louis Henwood

Map courtesy of Louis Henwood

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