Ælfric of Eynsham (c950 – c1010) was head of the abbey of Eynsham and a leading scholar of his day. He wrote mainly in Old English at a time when many scholars wrote in Latin, and was instrumental in developing OE prose style. His many works include commentaries on the bible and the lives of saints, sermons or *homilies, biblical translations, and a grammar of Latin written in Old English. His Latin Colloquy on trades and occupations was written around 998 AD as a learning aid for monastic pupils.
Æthelred the Unready ruled England from 978–1016 AD. His long reign was plagued by *Viking attacks and he was often ill-served by his advisers. Later generations gave him his nickname, which may not be wholly justified, since parts of his reign were prosperous and marked by a flowering of art and literature. However, the Vikings triumphed and a Danish king, *Cnut, ascended the throne in 1016.
Æthelstan ruled England from 927-939. He extended his rule to Northumbria and received submission from the Welsh, Strathclyde Britons, and Scots, whom he defeated at the battle of *Brunanburh in 937. The charters and lawcodes which survive from his reign testify to his administrative efficiency and tell us a good deal about Anglo-Saxon society. He was allied through dynastic marriages to noble European families and his court attracted many distinguished visitors and scholars.
Æthelthryth, who died in 679, was the wife of King Ecgfrith of Northumbria. According to Bede, she was a woman of great piety who remained chaste throughout her marriage and finally persuaded her husband to allow her to enter monastic life. She became abbess of *Ely, where she set an example of frugality, eating only once a day and bathing in hot water only before major festivals. Many miracles were associated with her and she was made a saint. She is also known as Etheldreda or Audrey.
Alfred the Great lived from 849-899. He inherited the kingdom of Wessex in 871, and in 878 defeated the invading Danes, thereafter restricting them to the north and east of the country while retaining the south and west under Anglo-Saxon rule. He maintained this balance by reorganising his army and providing the navy with new ships. He was also concerned with the spiritual welfare of his people, and initiated a plan of educational reform. He encouraged the use of Old English rather than Latin in written texts and translated or commissioned translations of many major works. He was probably also instrumental in initiating the *Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. He is buried in Winchester.
Alliteration, alliterating. Words which begin with the same sound, such as ship, shoe, shine, are said to alliterate. Alliteration was a key feature of Old English poetry, which consisted of half lines linked by two or three alliterating sounds in various stress patterns. Vowels could also participate in alliteration, though strictly speaking the term for this phenomenon is assonance.
Analytic language. A language such as Modern English or Chinese, where the relationships between words are conveyed largely by word order, is an analytic language. We understand the difference in meaning between ‘John bit the dog’ and ‘the dog bit John’ on this basis. Information is also conveyed by prepositions, as ‘John was bitten by the dog’. Old English was a *synthetic language, conveying such relationships by variable *case endings on words.
Andreas is an Old English poem recounting the life of St Andrew in heroic terms. It is preserved in the Vercelli book in Italy, an anthology of religious verse and prose which also includes the Dream of the Rood.
Anglo-Norman (AN) refers to French words borrowed into early English. Some scholars restrict its use to words borrowed before the *Norman Conquest of 1066, but others use it more broadly to include later borrowings and the development of the French language in England. It is also used of people of mixed English-Norman ancestry.
Anglo-Saxon. Nowadays this term is generally used to refer to the *Germanic peoples who settled in Britain in increasing numbers from the middle of the fifth century AD, and to the culture which developed in England as a result. It is formed from the names of two of these groups, the Angles and the Saxons. The term ‘Old English’ is preferred for the language which developed out of the dialects they spoke, although earlier scholars used Anglo-Saxon for the language too.
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Much of our knowledge of Anglo-Saxon history, as well as a good deal of information about Old English, comes from the various versions of this work, which was probably started by *King Alfred or at his court in the 890s. The first part describes the history of England up to *Alfred’s struggle against the Vikings. Copies were then made and circulated to centres of learning, which continued the story, adding more local information.
Anglo-Saxon Plant-Name Survey (ASPNS) is a project at the University of Glasgow led by Dr Carole Biggam investigating the meanings of Old English names for plants. See http://www.arts.gla.ac.uk/SESLL/EngLang/ihsl/projects/plants.htm
Anglo-Scandinavian is a term used to describe people of mixed Scandinavian and English ancestry, reminding us that many of the *Viking invaders settled down in England and were integrated into Anglo-Saxon life.
Basic Colour Term (BCT). This term is widely used to describe the basic set of colour words in a language. For Modern English, these are usually taken to be black, blue, brown, green, grey, orange, pink, purple, red, yellow, white. They are basic because they are not included in the meaning of any other term and can be used in all contexts. See further Unit 6.
Battle of Brunanburh. King *Æthelstan of England defeated a combined force of Britons, Scots and *Vikings at the battle of Brunanburh in 937. The event is commemorated (from an English point of view) in a poem of the same name, which is recorded in several versions of the *Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. The site of the battle is not known, but Bromborough in Cheshire seems likely.
Battle of Hastings. One of the key events in English history, the Battle of Hastings was fought on Saturday 14 October 1066 at Battle, Sussex. The Anglo-Saxon king, Harold Godwinson, was defeated by William, Duke of Normandy, commonly known as *William the Conqueror. Harold’s brothers and many of the English nobility were killed, allowing William to assume the kingship.
Tapestry. Although known as a tapestry, this work is really
a long and exquisite piece of embroidery. It was probably made in England, where
there was a long tradition of embroidery, but the story of the Norman Conquest
it depicts is told very much from the victor’s point of view, reinforcing the
legality of *William’s claims and portraying the English King, Harold, as a
treacherous oath-breaker. The final section is unfortunately missing. The tapestry
is fascinating for its social and martial detail; one section shows the appearance
of Haley’s comet, foreshadowing disaster (for Harold). See:
(673–735) was an Anglo-Saxon monk who was born in the Newcastle area and spent
most of his life at the twin monastery of Monkwearmouth-Jarrow. He was a noted
scholar and historian, the author of over 30 works in Latin, and much respected
in his own time and afterwards. Many of these works are commentaries on the
Bible, but his best known work is Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum,
‘Ecclesiastical History of the English People’, written in Latin and later translated
into Old English, probably on the instructions of King *Alfred, which is the
source of much of our knowledge about the early Anglo-Saxon period. The History
includes his own list of his works, nearly all of which have survived, some
in numerous copies. He also wrote widely-used textbooks on aspects of grammar,
and influential works on chronology including De temporum rationae (On the
reckoning of time). See:
Beowulf is an Old English heroic poem of 3182 lines, surviving in a manuscript in the British Museum. It is set in Scandinavia and tells the story of Beowulf’s defeat of the monster Grendel and his mother, and his own later death following a fight with a dragon. Its style is noted for the poet’s command of metrical form and rich store of poetic *compounds. The poem has been the subject of much scholarly debate, focusing on such topics as its historicity, date of composition, and the relationship between pagan and Christian ideas, and has inspired later works, including modern film versions.
Cædmon’s Hymn. In his History, *Bede tells the story of Caedmon, an illiterate cowherd who was miraculously endowed with the ability to compose verse. His only surviving composition is the nine-line Hymn in praise of God the Creator, although Bede tells us that he wrote other poems on biblical themes.
Case. Systems of case in languages are used to identify the roles of participants in a clause or sentence. Think about the roles in this sentence: The cook gave the pie to John. Who does the giving? The cook – he is the agent of the action and the *subject of the sentence. This is the nominative case. What is given? The pie – it is the *object of the action and of the sentence. This is the accusative case. Who gets the pie? John – he is the recipient of the action. This is the dative case, which is often signalled by a preposition in Mod. E. A fourth case is the genitive, signalling possession, as in John’s pie. In *analytic languages like Modern English, case is shown mainly by word order. In *synthetic languages like Old English it is shown by *inflectional endings.
Celtic is used to describe the people who inhabited Britain before the Anglo-Saxons arrived, and the languages they spoke. The traditional view was that they were enslaved or driven to the remoter parts of the country, but more recent research suggests that a fair amount of integration took place. Surviving Celtic languages include Welsh, Manx, and Scottish and Irish Gaelic.
Christ II is an incomplete poem of 427 lines by the Anglo-Saxon poet Cynewulf, who left his signature on four poems based on Latin originals. It is preserved in the Exeter Book in Exeter Cathedral, flanked by Advent hymns referred to as Christ I and a *Judgement Day poem referred to as Christ III.
Christ and Satan is a text of 729 lines of verse describing a series of events including the Resurrection of Christ, the Ascension into heaven, and *Judgement Day.
Christianity. The Anglo-Saxons were pagans when they first arrived in England. The historian *Bede tells us that St Augustine was sent from Rome to convert them to Christianity, arriving in 597 and becoming first Archbishop of Canterbury. Thereafter, Christianity spread throughout the country, sometimes assimilating pagan customs, as in the conflation of the festival of the heathen goddess Eostre with Easter and of Christmas with the yule-tide winter festivities. Earlier, missionaries from Ireland had brought an alternative form of Christianity to southern Scotland and Northumbria. Doctrinal differences over such things as the calculation of the date of Easter were settled in the Augustinians’ favour at the Synod Of Whitby in 664. See also Unit 2, Introduction.
Cnut was a Danish prince who ruled England from 1016-1035, having defeated *Æthelred the Unready, whose widow, the Norman princess Emma, he subsequently married. Disputes over the succession following his death led ultimately to the *Norman Conquest of England. The story of his attempts to stop the incoming tide first appears in the twelfth century, supposedly to illustrate his humility rather than arrogance.
Cognate is applied to words which appear in different languages but share a common ancestor. Thus German vater ‘father’ is cognate with words in many languages, including OE fæder and Mod. E. father.
Compound words are composed of other complete words, normally two, as in Modern English river-bed or speedway. Compounding was a common way of forming words in Old English, and many ingenious compounds, known as *kennings, are found in OE poetry. See Unit 4.
Consonants are speech sound which are not *vowels. Articulators in the mouth interfere with the passage of air, thus causing various kinds of friction. Examples include the sounds represented by the letters <b, c, d>.
Core vocabulary is the basic word-stock of a language, referring to everyday objects and activities in the natural and mental worlds. In English this includes nouns like sun, moon and stars and verbs like eat, drink and love. Because such words are essential and in constant use, they tend to be short words of stable meaning. Words for more peripheral concepts can be derived from core words or imported from other languages.
St Cuthbert (c635-687) began his career as a monk in Melrose and later became Bishop of Lindisfarne. For much of his life he lived as a hermit on islands off the Northumbrian coast. *Bede wrote two accounts of his life, one in verse and one in prose. Precious relics associated with him can be seen in Durham Cathedral.
Danelaw. Following the *Viking raids of the ninth century, King *Alfred made a treaty with the Danish leader, Guthrum, which effectively divided the country. The Danes ruled northern and eastern parts of England (roughly Yorkshire, East Anglia and parts of the Midlands, collectively known as the Danelaw), while Anglo-Saxon rule prevailed in the south and west. Subsequent English kings gradually brought the Danelaw back under their overall control, but it retained many Danish characteristics, including legal codes. Evidence of the Danish presence survives in the dialects and place names of these areas.
Determiners are rather like adjectives in that they modify nouns in *noun phrases. Unlike adjectives, however, they don’t describe nouns – instead, they specify which noun it is, or who it belongs to, or which number in a sequence it is, or how much of it there is. They include the (definite article); a (indefinite article); this, that, these, those (demonstratives); my, your, his, her, its, our, their (possessive adjectives); one, four, twenty, first, ninth, last, etc. (enumerators, indicating definite quantities); some, any, no, all, many, most, whole, etc. (indicating indefinite quantities).
Direct object. In the sentence ‘Sally opened the book’, the *noun phrase the book is the direct object. In Mod. E. we identify it from its position after the verb opened. Semantically, the book is the item affected by the action of the verb. In OE the direct object was marked by the accusative *case.
Domesday Book. A detailed record of land and its ownership compiled from the findings of a survey ordered by *William 1 in 1085. The huge task of compiling a single document from the vast amount of disparate information collected was completed in 1086, and provides us with a major source of information for this period. See also Unit 9 and http://domesdaybook.net
Dysphemism occurs when a word of neutral or even positive meaning is replaced by one with unpleasant or more familiar associations. This can be done for political purposes, as when a soldier of an opposing regime is described as a ‘terrorist’, or to downplay a frightening or unpleasant subject, as when dying is described as a ‘popping one’s clogs’.
Edward the Confessor ruled England from 1042–1066, when his death without an heir led to a dispute over the succession between Harold and *William 1, and the latter’s victory at the *Battle of Hastings. It seems probable that Edward had promised the throne to William. Edward rebuilt Westminster Abbey, gaining a reputation for piety, and was later canonised.
Element is used for a single part of a compound word, such as storm and thunder in thunderstorm.
Ely is an island-like district in Cambridgeshire and the site of an abbey associated in Anglo-Saxon times with its first abbess, the saintly *Æthelthryth, daughter of Anna, king of the East Angles. The Abbey suffered from *Viking attacks, but became a major centre again in the tenth century. Later it became associated with resistance to the Norman regime and the legend of Hereward the Wake.
Etymology is the study of the origins of words. The etymology of a word, often given in dictionaries, is a summary of its origins, taking it back one or several stages. Thus the immediate etymology or root of Mod. E ‘father’ is OE fæder, and the origin of fæder can in turn be traced back further to an old *Germanic word fader and beyond.
Euphemism is the replacement of a word considered harsh or offensive by one of pleasanter meaning or associations, as when a drunk person is described as ‘inebriated’ or ‘happy’, or a fat one as ‘plump’ or ‘well-built’.
False friend is used to describe a word which bears a misleading resemblance to a word in another language. The two words look as if they should mean the same thing, but in fact they don’t. An example is the OE word lust, which could mean ‘innocent pleasure’, a meaning it has lost in Mod. E.
Feudal system. A system of land tenure widespread in Europe during the Middle Ages and introduced to England after the *Norman Conquest. It was based on the relationship of a superior and his vassals, who held land from him in feud and owed him various obligations.
Folk-names are terms in common currency among ordinary people for things they encounter in their daily lives, such as plants, animals or geographical features. They can vary considerably from region to region. In modern times, they are often used alongside more scientifically accurate names.
Folk taxonomy or classification refers to the ways in which items are grouped into categories according to the information available at the time or the importance of such items in a culture. Thus plants might be classified by their use in medicine or cookery. Nowadays folk taxonomies are often contrasted with scientific taxonomies, which group items according to scientifically accepted principles, as in standard botanical or zoological taxonomies.
Genesis is an Old English poem dealing with the events in Genesis, the first book of the Bible, including the creation of the world and the expulsion of Adam and Eve from Eden.
Germanic is a general term used to describe the group of related languages which includes Old English, *Old Norse and old forms of German. They can be traced back to a common ancestor language known as Primitive Germanic or Proto-Germanic, spoken in Southern Scandinavia and Northern Germany up until about the fourth century AD, when the peoples and languages began to diverge. The term is also applied to speakers of these languages. Modern descendants include English, Dutch, German and the Scandinavian languages.
Glossary, gloss. A glossary is a list of terms, often difficult or technical words, followed by an explanation or a translation into another language, known as a gloss. Latin – Old English glossaries, many of which survive, provide us with useful information about the OE vocabulary, as do marginal or interlinear glosses, i.e. aids to understanding, such as synonyms, written in the margins or between the lines of manuscripts. Some glossaries were arranged by subject matter like a thesaurus, and were used as teaching aids in schools.
Hartlepool Monastery was a double monastery for monks and nuns founded by the first Northumbrian nun, Heiu. It was probably destroyed during the *Viking raids.
Heptarchy. By about 700 AD, the parts of England settled by *Germanic peoples comprised seven independent kingdoms: Northumbria, Mercia, East Anglia, Wessex, Essex, Sussex and Kent. By the ninth century the smaller kingdoms had been absorbed into four main ones: Northumbria, Mercia, East Anglia and Wessex. These divisions simplify the complex situation which existed in Anglo-Saxon England, where a good deal of power was held at local level, but give us a general idea of political and linguistic units.
Homily. A homily is a kind of sermon, usually based on a biblical text and delivered to a church congregation in order to exhort them to piety. *Ælfric of Eynsham and *Wulfstan were both noted homilists whose works were copied and adapted by generations of priests long after the OE period.
Indirect object. In the sentence ‘Sally gave John the book’, there are two *objects, John and the book. John is the indirect object and the book is the direct object. In Mod. E. the indirect object precedes the direct object. We can also identify the indirect object by paraphrasing the sentence using a preposition, as in ‘Sally gave the book to John’. In OE the indirect object was marked by the dative *case, but prepositions were also used.
Inflection, inflectional ending. An inflection or inflectional ending is added to a word in order to give us additional information about its meaning or role in the sentence. Thus ‘ed’ in work-ed indicates that we are talking about the past, while ‘s’ in John’-s marks the genitive *case, used to signal possession. OE made much more use of inflections than Mod. E. and can be described as an inflected or *synthetic language.
Judgement Day. In traditional Christian theology, people were raised from the dead on the last day of the world, Judgement Day or Doomsday, in order that God might pass judgement on their behaviour on earth.
Kenning. Anglo-Saxon poetic language had many special features, including the use of kennings, *compounds words like swanrād, literally ‘swan’s road’, but here used metaphorically to mean ‘sea’ (see Unit 4).
Latin. The language spoken by the Romans and taken to many parts of Europe as the power of the Roman Empire grew. It became the language (both spoken and written) of learning and religion throughout Europe in the Middle Ages. Anglo-Saxon scholars such as *Bede were fluent in the language, and the fact that they wrote in Latin made their work accessible to scholars in other countries. The Romance languages, including French, Portuguese, Rumanian and Spanish, are direct descendants of Latin.
Lexicalization refers to the linguistic process of creating a word to represent an idea. Where an idea is important to a community of speakers, it will be heavily lexicalized, i.e. there will be a large number of words for it, both synonyms and those covering fine differentiations of meaning associated with the concept.
Lindisfarne or Holy Island lies off the coast of Northumbria. It is cut off at high tide, but at other times can be reached by a causeway. In the seventh century, it was the centre of Celtic *Christianity in England under the leadership of an Irish monk, Aidan. It temporarily lost power following the Synod of Whitby (see *Christianity), but re-emerged as a centre of religion and learning following the death of St *Cuthbert. The illustrated Lindisfarne Gospels, a Latin text with OE glosses, was produced there. Following *Viking raids which started in 793, the monastic community fled inland, taking their precious objects with them.
Loan-words are words which are ‘borrowed’ or adopted from another language, often with changes of form to fit the patterns of the host language. There are many reasons why this happens, often cultural or political. OE borrowed some Latin words following the adoption of *Christianity, and *Old Norse words entered OE along with *Viking settlers. Following the *Norman Conquest there was an influx of French words and many OE words disappeared.
Menologium, more accurately known as the Metrical Calendar, is an Old English poem of 231 lines describing saints and church feast days. It survives in a version of the *Anglo-Saxon Chonicle.
Middle English is the term used to describe the period following Old English, usually dated from around 1100 to 1500 AD. The next period is usually called Early Modern English.
Narrowing of meaning refers to a form of *semantic change where the meaning of a word becomes more restricted. An example is OE fugel, which meant any kind of bird. Its modern descendant fowl has a more limited meaning.
Norman Conquest. This term refers to the defeat of the Anglo-Saxon King Harold by *William the Conqueror at the *Battle of Hastings in 1066, and the subsequent spread of Norman power and culture in England. Lands were given to his followers, castles were built to control the native population, and there were changes in institutions such as the law and the church. The *Domesday Book, detailing land ownership, was announced in 1085. *Norman French became the language of the court.
Norman French. The variety of French spoken by *William the Conqueror and his Norman followers. While the majority of the population continued to speak English, French and Latin were the official written languages, which inhibited the development of English in this area for some time. The necessity of communication between conquerors and conquered led to French words and grammatical features being adopted into English. Norman French diverged from mainland French in the same way as, say, American and British English have diverged.
Phrase. The minimum noun phrase consists of a noun (cat) or
a pronoun (it). They may also contain determiners or adjectives. Thus the sentence
below contains three noun phrases, indicated by brackets:
(The cat) caught (a small mouse) and ate (it).
Object see *Direct Object, *Indirect Object.
Obsolete words are those which are no longer used in a language. Their disuse may follow a period where they are obsolescent, i.e. used mainly by older speakers. Such words may survive longer in specialised usage, such as poetry or religious texts.
Old Norse is a general term given to the *Germanic languages spoken in Scandinavia in the medieval period. The earliest surviving examples are *runic letters carved on wood and stone, from about the second century AD. The language spoken by the Viking invaders of England was a form of Old Norse.
Palm Sunday. In the Christian religious calendar, Palm Sunday is the Sunday before Easter, when Christ rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. It is celebrated by processions of people carrying palm branches.
Participle, present, past. Participles are originally parts of verbs. In the verb phrases he is going and he had gone, going and gone are respectively the present participle and the past participle. Participles often develop into either adjectives or nouns, as in ‘her sparkling eyes’ (adjective) or ‘she took up running’ (noun).
Person is a system of the verb which survives in Modern English in the –s ending of the third person singular of present tense verbs: he looks. OE verbs showed considerably more variation in person (see Unit 3). We can also see person in the pronoun system, which marks whether a pronoun represents the speaker (first person, I/we), the listener (second person, you) or someone or something which is neither (third person, he, she, it/they).
Polysemy refers to a word form which is polysemous, i.e. has two or more meanings. Many words become polysemous over the course of time by being applied to new things or extended metaphorically. An example of polysemy in Mod. E. is ‘head’, which can refer to the head of a person or animal, the head of the stairs, of a cauliflower, of a class, of an institution, etc. All these meanings have something in common, i.e. being at the top of something.
Prefix. A prefix is added before the stem of a word to change its meaning. Thus the prefix un- or dis- creates a negative meaning, as in unhappy, disgraceful. See Unit 4.
Rædwald, see *Sutton Hoo.
Reflex. The modern descendant of an older word is its reflex, for example Modern English book from Old English boc. This is often written as boc > book.
Roman occupation. The Romans occupied much of Britain for several centuries before the arrival of the Anglo-Saxons. The withdrawal of the Roman armies made the invasions of the Anglo-Saxons easier. Initially they do not seem to have made much use of the buildings the Romans left behind, but later in the period such buildings were used as stone quarries or the sites of churches.
Runes, runic alphabet, rune-stave. The early *Germanic peoples used a runic alphabet which was different from the Roman alphabet we use today. It is generally known as the ‘futhark’ after its first six characters or rune-staves. It was used for carving on wood or stone, and the runes therefore consist of straight lines. The early futhark had 24 letters in its rune-row or alphabet, but the Anglo-Saxons added letters which were needed to represent their own language. Many examples of runic carvings on crosses, name-stones, swords, etc. survive.
The Seafarer is an elegaic OE poem of 124 lines preserved in the Exeter Book in Exeter Cathedral. It deals with the joys and perils of the seafaring life, comparing it to man’s pilgrimage on earth.
Semantic change refers to the fact that many words change in meaning over the course of their history. An example is Mod. E. ‘silly’, which started life as OE (ge)sǣlig ‘happy, prosperous’, and went through several semantic changes to reach its modern meaning. For details, see the Oxford English Dictionary.
Semantic feature. Units of meaning are sometimes referred to as semantic features or components. Thus ‘female’ is a feature of words such as woman, girl, wife, and ‘male’ of words like man, boy, husband.
Semantic field. In a thesaurus, words are arranged according to their meanings rather than alphabetically as in a dictionary. Large groupings, such as Earth, People, Warfare, representing major concepts, are known as semantic fields and form the overall structure of the thesaurus. They are also the basis of the units in this project.
Shilling. A unit of currency in Anglo-Saxon England, varying in value. The term survived until the introduction of decimal currency in the UK in 1971.
Stem. The stem of a word is the part that remains constant even if elements are added to make new words. Thus the stem ‘sad-’ appears in words such as sadness, sadly; the stem ‘lov-’ appears in forms of the verb such as loves, loving, loved (with minor spelling variation). Such elements are sometimes referred to as the ‘root’ of a word, but this term is better kept for the word’s *etymology (historical source).
Subject. In the sentence ‘Sally opened the book’, the noun phrase Sally is the subject. In Mod. E. we identify it from its position before the verb opened. Semantically, Sally is the initiator of the action of the verb. In OE the subject was marked by the nominative *case.
Suffix. A suffix is added after the stem of a word to change its part of speech. Thus the suffix –ness or -dom creates a noun from another part of speech, as in happiness, kingdom. See Unit 4.
Superordinate term. Many words can be organised in hierarchies or groups according to their meanings: a cat is a kind of feline and a feline is a kind of animal. The most general term in such a grouping (here ‘animal’) is called the superordinate. The other terms are its hyponyms.
Sutton Hoo is a seventh-century Anglo-Saxon burial site in East Suffolk, containing many barrows or grave-mounds. The most famous is Mound 1, which contains a ship as well as many costly artefacts. Rædwald, king of East Anglia from 599 AD to about 625 AD, has been suggested as a possible occupant, but there is little real proof. The contents of this and other graves give us insights into the lives of wealthy Anglo-Saxons. See also Unit 7.
Synonyms are words which are roughly equivalent in meaning. There are few, if any, exact synonyms, since a language had no real need for them. Where these occur temporarily, one usually disappears or changes its meaning.
Synthetic language. A language where grammatical information about words and the relationships between them is shown by changing the form of the word, usually the ending or *inflection. Modern German and Arabic are examples of such languages, as were Old English and Latin.
Taboo. In many cultures, there is a taboo against talking about certain subjects or individuals. The words designating them may also be taboo and replaced by other words, such as *euphemisms.
Unvoiced sound. A speech sound where there is no vibration of the vocal folds. Examples in English are the sounds represented by the letters <p, t, k, s>.
Viking is a general term applied to the people from Denmark, Norway and Sweden who attacked England between c780-900 and again between c980-1066. They caused a lot of damage, for example to religious foundations, and were regarded by many English people as a punishment from God. However, many of them settled in the *Danelaw in northern and eastern England as peaceful farmers. Others travelled even further afield, to Russia and North America.
Voiced sound. A speech sound affected by vibration of the vocal folds. Examples in English are the sounds represented by the letters <b, d, g, z>.
Vowel. The speech sounds represented in written English by the letters <a, e, i, o, u> or combinations of these. In these sounds, unlike *consonsants, air passes through the vocal tract without encountering any obstacles.
The Wanderer is an elegaic OE poem of 115 lines preserved in the Exeter Book in Exeter Cathedral. It deals with the sorrows of a man who has no friends to protect him, but who eventually gains wisdom from his sufferings.
Weakening of meaning refers to a form of *semantic change where the meaning of a word becomes less strong. An example is OE drǣdan, which meant ‘to fear greatly, be terrified’ (e.g. of a monster). Its modern descendant dread has a weaker meaning, as in ‘I’m dreading the exam’.
Widening or broadening of meaning refers to a form of *semantic change where the meaning of a word becomes more general. An example is OE brid, which meant a young bird. Its modern descendant bird can refer to any bird.
William 1, also known as William the Conqueror (1035-1087), defeated the English king, Harold, at the *Battle of Hastings in 1066. He came from Normandy in France, which was named after the Norsemen (*Vikings) who had settled there. He was related to the English royal family and claimed that the throne had been promised to him by the previous king, Edward the Confessor, and by Harold himself.
the homilist had a career in the church, serving as Bishop
of London and Worcester and Archbishop of York. He died in 1023. He wrote many
sermons, *homilies and secular works, mostly in OE. He is noted for his elaborate
prose style, which has many of the features of OE poetic style. One of his most
famous works is Sermo Lupi ad Anglos (Sermon of the Wolf to the English), which
blames the degenerate lives of the English for many problems, including the