Regina, Saskatchewan; Canada
Young English was that written and spoken in Great Britain before the twelfth century. It was the most phonological and inflective stage of the English language.
The two most important points about learning Young English are becoming most familiar with 1. Letters and Sounds: and 2. The Inflections.
Terminology "Young" and "Old"
In this work I say Young English for the conventional "Old English" And Old English for the conventional "Modern English"
This is not meant to confuse readers, even though it may be a bit confusing at first. But it is meant to observe the truth that English before the twelfth century was in its youth and early years, taking its first fresh steps in history. And that the english language today, come down from a long life and evolution, over a thousand years, makes it accuratly old.
Indeed English today is like an old man. The facts we have from earlier english are like pictures of that old man when he was younger. Just as an old man should be called young
in a picture in which he was young, even though he is presently old, I believe the English language should be called young in the "picture" and context in which it was young in comparison to such a long evolution thereafter, by which we may acknowledge how old the english language presently really is.
Letters and Sounds
Front Vowels i, y, e, æ* Back Vowels u, o, a
i: did, deed
y: Fr.* tu, Fr. lune u: put, moon
e: get, play o: not, bone
æ: cat, bad a: hot, law
Vowel-Pairs: "Dipthongs" (Gr. di "two" + phthongos "sound")
ea ` Dipthongs may be pronounced as the
eo > vowels suggests. But always
io / as one syllable, not two.
* ligurature æ is called "ash".
*Y was only a vowel in YE (Young English).
*Fr. = French
*Y is somewhat like i and u as one vowel sound. A high, front and rounded vowel.
The letters not listed below are all used as in Old English (OE).
c: As ch in cheap by front vowels f: As v in seven between vowels.
As k in keep by back vowels As f in five initially or finally.
g: As y in yelp by front vowels h: As h in horse intially.
As g in good by back vowels As ch in loch medially or finally.
r: "OE r initially may well have been strongly trilled
as in Mod.Scots, but the same symbol was used for
the fricative ('burred') sound in some positions,
notably before consonants and finally (heard 'hard',
scur 'shower') - the r-sound of much American speech
and heard also in southwestern dialects of England."
- Quirk and Wrenn's An Old English Grammar
s: As z in zoo between vowels.
As s in sing initially or finally.
Þ*: As th of father between vowels.
As th of thick initially or finally
ð: The same as Þ.
sc: As sh of ship. cg: As dge of edge. cc: As ch in child.
* Sometimes when by a front vowel letters g or c are still g (as in god) and k ( as in kite). This is because a back vowel was originally there, but by sound change became front. The vowel changed, but the consonants stayed the same. Thus g in gylden is the same as g in golden, c in cyning is as k in king, cearo is as c in care. Forms in old english may help direct our pronunciation.
* Runic Þ "thorn," and ð "eth" -- a d with a line thro it-- are interchangeably used for the sound spelt in YE as th. The uppercases are þ and Ð.
* j and v are not found in Young English; and k, q, and z are found only rarely.
* There are no silent letters.
Try pronouncing the words in the following groups.
Long vowels are underlined, and short vowels are left unmarked.
ac oak feoh fee lif Life
aþ oath fisc fish Lufu Love
beadu battle fæt vat middæg midday
bodig body gimm gem miht might
cild child heafod head niht night
cniht knight hit it nosþyrl nostril
cwen queen hlæfdige lady ofer over
cyning king hlaford lord oðer other
dæg day hund hound run rune
dæl deal ic I Sæfern Severn
eorl earl lar lore treow tree
engel angel leoht light tunge tongue
æ law gar spear meotod creator
æþling prince garsecg sea mere sea
ar honour hals neck ræd advice
bearn child hælend Savior rod cross
boda messenger here army scop poet
bot remedy hige mind tungol star
drihten lord læce doctor þeaw virtue
ea river leode people þegn thane
ege terror leoð poetry þeow slave
ellen courage lyft air wen expectation
feorh life mæg kinsman wer man
frea lord mægen might wyrd fate
eoh horse maþm treasure wynn joy
guma man med reward yð wave
Line of Descent
| | | |
| Italic Celtic etc.
| East Germanic
| North Germanic
| | |
| Irminonic Istvaeonic
| Low German
| Young Frisian