Episode 40: Learning Latin and Latin Learning

Long before the Normans arrived in England, the Anglo-Saxons were borrowing Latin words from the monastic culture which was emerging in the 7th and 8th centuries. In this episode, we explore the spread of monastic schools and scholarship in Anglo-Saxon Britain, and we examine many of the Latin words which were borrowed during the period of Old English.

5 thoughts on “Episode 40: Learning Latin and Latin Learning

  1. Listening to the podcast in order and I’m finally here at this episode and wondering about the word “circle.” If this word was borrowed into old English does this mean they didn’t have a concept of a circle or that the Germanic/Celtic word they were using got dropped? Seems like a pretty basic concept. Assuming it existed as a Germanic word, how and why did that word stop getting used?

    • Hi Cary,

      The common Old English word for a circle was ‘hring’ – which became ‘ring.’ So ‘ring’ is the native Old English word and ‘circle’ is the borrowed word from Latin/French. This is a common feature of Modern English and part of the reason why English has such a large vocabulary. For most objects and concepts, we have a native word and a borrowed word.

  2. African Tigers? I think they predate even PIE.
    Anyway, 40 in and im still listening avidly. This really is a magnificent series and you should be very proud of it. Thanks Kevin.

  3. Ounce is also cognate with inch. An apothecaries’ (or troy) ounce is 1/12 of an apothecaries’ pound. I’m pretty sure that must be older than the common or avoirdupois ounce as I can’t imagine common usage required anything as specific as mixing compounds or weighing precious metals.

    • Yes, “ounce” and “inch” are indeed cognate. I discussed that connection in ‘Episode 115: The Measure of a Person’ which examines common measurement terms in English.

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