View Full Version : need help with some english terms

Ummu Sufyaan
03-17-2009, 08:20 AM
what does it mean that a word comes from "middle english" and "old english"
i get what the latter means, but what about the former.

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03-17-2009, 08:39 AM
Definitions of middle English on the Web:

  • English from about 1100 to 1450
  • Middle English is the name given by historical linguistics to the diverse forms of the English language spoken between the Norman invasion of 1066 ...
  • The ancestor language of Modern English, spoken in England and parts of Scotland (where it became Lowland Scots) from about 1100 AD to 1500 AD. It developed from Anglo-Saxon, also called Old English, with heavy influence from French and Latin after the Norman invasion
  • English as it was spoken and written in the later middle ages, particularly as established around the 14th century
  • The version of English spoken after the Norman Conquest from 1066 but before 1450 or so. Before the Norman Conquest, the common version of English ...
  • Historical stage of English spoken, written, and sung in England from 1100-1500. Major changes from OE are reduction of inflections and large ...
  • Arthurian Literature Orfeo
  • Most often associated with the magickal systems of High Magick including alchemy, the Hermetic wisdom, and the doctrines of Agrippa, Dee, Paracelsus and other Neoplatonic philosophers. In archaic use, a wizardry was synonomous with magick of any kind.
  • English as it was spoken and written from roughly 1100 to 1500, the language of Chaucer. It differs significantly from Old English in its syntax and vocabulary, including its spelling, in large part because of French influence. ...

Definitions of old English on the Web:

  • English prior to about 1100
  • The Old English (Seanghaill) were the descendants of the settlers who came to Ireland from Wales, Normandy and England after the Norman invasion ...
  • Old English (also called Anglo-Saxon, Englisc by its speakers) is an early form of the English language that was spoken and written in parts of ...
  • The ancestor language of modern English, also called Anglo-Saxon, spoken in Britain from about 400 AD to 1100 AD. The language is a more inflected language, maintaining strong and weak verbs, nouns, and adjectives. ...
  • English as it was spoken and written before and immediately after the Norman Conquest of Britain
  • Also known as Anglo-Saxon, Old English is the ancestor of Middle English and Modern English. It is a Germanic language that was introduced to the British Isles by tribes such as the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes in a series of invasions in the fifth century. ...
  • A West Germanic language almost identical to Old-Friese. Probably the lingua franca of the Roman Army in Britain. Named after the Engle.
  • A style used from c. 1860, in which tile-hanging, tall chimneys, half-timbering and other details of the gabled vernacular architecture of south ...
  • http://www.umanitoba.ca/anthropology/tutor/kinterm ...

03-17-2009, 08:58 AM
Originally Posted by Umm ul-Shaheed
what does it mean that a word comes from "middle english" and "old english"
i get what the latter means, but what about the former.
Old English is another term for Anglo-Saxon, which looks like this:

Beowulffirstpage 1 -

(The opening of Beowulf)

Here is roughly what's written on that page:

Hwæt! We Gardena in geardagum,
þeodcyninga, þrym gefrunon,
hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon.
Oft Scyld Scefing sceaþena þreatum,
monegum mægþum, meodosetla ofteah,
egsode eorlas. Syððan ærest wearð
feasceaft funden, he þæs frofre gebad,
weox under wolcnum, weorðmyndum þah,
oðþæt him æghwylc þara ymbsittendra
ofer hronrade hyran scolde,
gomban gyldan.

Middle English was spoken in the Middle Ages, and looks like this:

409px EllesmereManuscriptKnightPortrait -

(The opening of The Knight's Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer)

Iamque domos patrias Scithice post aspera gentis prelia laurigero &c. Thebaid, xii, 519.

Heere bigynneth the knyghtes tale.
1 Whilom, as olde stories tellen us,
2 Ther was a duc that highte Theseus;
3 Of Atthenes he was lord and governour,
4 And in his tyme swich a conquerour,
5 That gretter was ther noon under the sonne.
6 Ful many a riche contree hadde he wonne,
7 What with his wysdom and his chivalrie;
8 He conquered al the regne of Femenye,
9 That whilom was ycleped Scithia,
10 And weddede the queene Ypolita,
11 And broghte hir hoom with hym in his contree,
12 With muchel glorie and greet solempnytee,
13 And eek hir yonge suster Emelye.

It's worth comparing the two types of writing. Look at the Anglo-Saxon, and it's quite hard to identify it as English. It even uses letters that we don't use any more. Look through the Middle English text, though, and you'll see lots of words popping out at you that are either the same or very similar to their modern English equivalents.

Hope this helps.


03-17-2009, 12:51 PM
Originally Posted by Umm ul-Shaheed
what does it mean that a word comes from "middle english" and "old english"
i get what the latter means, but what about the former.
Take a look at


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