Pedantic rantic

Today in my Shakespearean Sonnets class, a gentleman referred to Shakespeare’s language as “Old English.” In response, I attempted to make his brain asplode with my eyes. Thankfully my professor saw me glaring death-darts at the student, and helpfully stepped in with “Actually, Elizabethan English is quite modern. It might be a little beyond the grasp of our tongues, but it’s certainly not as old as English gets.”

And this the week after exploring agenbite of inwit, which isn’t even Old old English, but rather, Middle, and still about 300 years before Shakespeare’s time. If only people took more time to study the history of English

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9 Comments

  1. The old Webster’s 1913 referred to ME as OE and what we now call OE as AS (Anglo-Saxon).

    If more folks were to learn OE/AS instead of Latin or, at least, along with Latin, then mistakes such as this wouldn’t happen and we could eathly know the meaning of words like “agen” (OE agēn = ongēan [again, eft, back]) and “inwit” (from ME, maybe from OE *inwitt [but not from inwit/inwid]. Liken OE ingewitnes(s) [consciousness, conscience]).

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  2. I’ve forsaken many opportunities as an English major to brush up on my etymology in favour of literature and poetry, but the former subject has been weaving its way to the forefront of my interests lately. Figures it’s just as I graduate. Thanks for your insight!

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