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.
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.
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.
We explore the linguistic legacy of the native Celtic Britons on Modern English. The historical legacy of the legendary Celtic king named Arthur is also examined.
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.
We explore the origins of the Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Frisians in the North Sea region of northern Europe. The early raids on the coasts of Britain and Gaul set the stage for the later mass migrations. The similarities between the languages of these respective groups are examined.
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.
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.
We explore the expansion of Germanic tribes into the Danube region where the Germans encounter the Etruscan alphabet. The Germanic runes develop and provide the first opportunity for the Germanic tribes to write their own language.