ilona the pest

insecurity + narcissism = awesome!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

old english

i'm finally starting to get into the book on old english that i bought over a year ago but never read past the first chapter. i can't wait til i can read and pronounce old english! it's basically a foreign language - it looks and sounds just about as foreign as german or french. but it's awesome to look at some of the strange-looking words and realize their direct evolutionary relationship to modern english. like, cyning (pronounced [KOO-ning]) (sort of) is 'king'. and hwelc (pronounced [hwelch]) is 'which'. i love to ponder things like, when did we decide to swap the H and the W at the beginning of all our WH words?

there are all these online exercises that go along with the book, and you can even listen to readings from actual texts to get a feel for the pronunciation.

i love to read little tidbits like: "When sc was pronounced [sk] it sometimes underwent metathesis (the sounds got reversed to [ks]) and was written x: axian for ascian, tux for tusc." take that, everyone who thinks it's horribly uneducated to say "axe" for "ask" (as is standard in modern black english) - that pronunciation has a venerable pedigree! and besides, languages undergo that kind of switch all the time (see, e.g.,what happened to our WH words). i hate linguistic purists. all languages change and that is the most interesting thing about 'em, in my book.

11 Comments:

  • At 10:37 AM, Blogger Academic Deano said…

    The biggest threat to the Anglo Saxon language is the Americans they dont know how to say half the words.

    How the hell did you come up aloooominum from aluminium?

     
  • At 2:53 PM, Blogger ilona said…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aluminum#Spelling
    Spelling

    Etymology/nomenclature history

    The earliest citation given in the Oxford English Dictionary for any word used as a name for this element is alumium, which Humphry Davy employed in 1808 for the metal he was trying to isolate electrolytically from the mineral alumina. The citation is from his journal Philosophical Transactions: "Had I been so fortunate as..to have procured the metallic substances I was in search of, I should have proposed for them the names of silicium, alumium, zirconium, and glucium."

    By 1812, Davy had settled on aluminum, which, as other sources note, matches its Latin root. He wrote in the journal Chemical Philosophy: "As yet Aluminum has not been obtained in a perfectly free state." But the same year, an anonymous contributor to the Quarterly Review, a British political-literary journal, objected to aluminum and proposed the name aluminium, "for so we shall take the liberty of writing the word, in preference to aluminum, which has a less classical sound."

    The -ium suffix had the advantage of conforming to the precedent set in other newly discovered elements of the period: potassium, sodium, magnesium, calcium, and strontium (all of which Davy had isolated himself). Nevertheless, -um spellings for elements were not unknown at the time, as for example platinum, known to Europeans since the 16th century, molybdenum, discovered in 1778, and tantalum, discovered in 1802.

    Americans adopted -ium for most of the 19th century, with aluminium appearing in Webster's Dictionary of 1828. In 1892, however, Charles Martin Hall used the -um spelling in an advertising handbill for his new electrolytic method of producing the metal, despite his constant use of the -ium spelling in all the patents he filed between 1886 and 1903. It has consequently been suggested that the spelling on the flier was a simple spelling mistake. Hall's domination of production of the metal ensured that the spelling aluminum became the standard in North America; the Webster Unabridged Dictionary of 1913, though, continued to use the -ium version.

    In 1926, the American Chemical Society officially decided to use aluminum in its publications; American dictionaries typically label the spelling aluminium as a British variant.

    Present-day spelling

    In the UK and other countries using British spelling, only aluminium is used. In the United States, the spelling aluminium is largely unknown, and the spelling aluminum predominates. The Canadian Oxford Dictionary prefers aluminum.

    In other English-speaking countries, the spellings (and associated pronunciations) aluminium and aluminum are both in common use in scientific and nonscientific contexts. The spelling in virtually all other languages is analogous to the -ium ending.

    The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) adopted aluminium as the standard international name for the element in 1990, but three years later recognized aluminum as an acceptable variant. Hence their periodic table includes both, but places aluminium first. IUPAC officially prefers the use of aluminium in its internal publications, although several IUPAC publications use the spelling aluminum.

     
  • At 6:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    ilona said: ...Etymology/nomenclature history
    The earliest citation given ... *snip* .


    I'm not reading all that.

     
  • At 6:27 AM, Blogger Academic Deano said…

    So good old Humphry basicly invented aluminium for then some jackass to mispell it alooominuminum and take all the glory.

    Oh the cheek of it all.

    So the IUPAC basicly adopted a spelling mistake lol.

     
  • At 8:32 AM, Blogger wt said…

    Will this book help me meet women?

     
  • At 2:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    So you are pro-ebonics then? I'm sure people used to pronounce things differently in the past, but we live in the present. There's a proper way to pronounce things now. Beacuse you found some peasant pronounced ask like "axe" hundreds of years ago, doesn't excuse illiteracy and lack of academic drive today.

     
  • At 3:27 PM, Blogger ilona said…

    So you are pro-ebonics then?

    that question has a ridiculous premise: how can you possibly be "for" or "against" a dialect? languages are value-neutral (except to the extent that linguists value ALL languages). to a linguist, the natural diversity of languages is extremely valuable, because it provides fascinating clues into the history of cultures and the patterns that govern the shifts that occur in all languages over time, among other things.

    people who speak cantonese are not speaking mandarin incorrectly. people who speak danish are not speaking norwegian incorrectly. people who speak black english vernacular (or "ebonics") are not speaking standard english incorrectly - they are speaking a different dialect of english that is equally legitimate, internally consistent, and lovely.

     
  • At 4:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    people who speak cantonese are not speaking mandarin incorrectly. people who speak danish are not speaking norwegian incorrectly. people who speak black english vernacular (or "ebonics") are not speaking standard english incorrectly - they are speaking a different dialect of english that is equally legitimate, internally consistent, and lovely.

    Those are bad analogies. Danish and Norwegian are different languages, not dialects. Ebonics is just improperly spoken english, NOT another language. You cannot compare a different language to a dialect. How is ebonics legitimate? The California school system was basically going to give up on black children and say ina racist manner "we think Blacks are incapable of speaking english properly, so we'll just teach them the improper english in school". Would you write any of your memos or briefs in Ebonics? Why? Because it's not proper english.

     
  • At 5:43 PM, Blogger ilona said…

    Those are bad analogies. Danish and Norwegian are different languages, not dialects. . . .You cannot compare a different language to a dialect.

    remind me, which of us has a degree in linguistics, again? oh yeah, that's right: ME. danish and norwegian are mutually intelligible, yet they're called different "languages". cantonese and mandarin are NOT mutually intelligible, yet they're called "dialects". i chose those analogies to demonstrate that the line between "dialects" and "languages" is often difficult to discern. it's more helpful to view varieties of language as falling on a spectrum from similarity to dissimilarity, with similar varieties usually termed "dialects" and further-apart varieties termed "languages".


    Ebonics is just improperly spoken english, NOT another language.

    that's exactly what the speakers of "proper" latin thought about speakers of what became italian, french, spanish, etc. your prejudice toward the language of the less privileged classes is as old as language itself, son.


    Would you write any of your memos or briefs in Ebonics? Why? Because it's not proper english.

    first, i'm not fluent in black english vernacular, so i couldn't write briefs in that dialect even if i wanted to. second, the legal profession is extremely conservative. you succeed for your client by winning over the usually conservative, usually white, usually male judge, who is steeped in the formality of the ancient profession. in fact, the legal profession is so conservative that its lexicon includes a large number of outdated words - remnants of old english, middle english, and middle french - that the rest of the english-speaking world has long left behind.

    anyhow, anyone can see that there is a dominant dialect in this country, which we could call standard american english. as usual in societies with multiple thriving dialects, the variety that came to be thought of as the "standard" language happened to be the dialect of the privileged classes. thus its careful use conveys a sense of education, wealth, power, and whiteness (since whites are the dominant group from whence that particular dialect emerged). that's why lawyers master that language. but it hardly justifies promoting the eradication of alternate dialects with the fallacious argument that such dialects are simply "mistaken" versions of the "original".

    if you want to learn more about black english vernacular (or african-american vernacular english, as it's also known), check out the wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African_American_Vernacular_English

     
  • At 8:04 PM, Blogger Academic Deano said…

    Well as long as you understand what the other persons talking about then its all good.

    Im kinda confused though as to where the argument over ebonics has just developed from.

    Jives used in England as well I've heard it many times.

    Hey thanks for pointing out the importance of linguistics Ilona I used to work with a guy who had a degree in the field although I always looked at him strangely because I didnt know what the hell the degree entailed I thought it was some jackanory course as he went off to work in admin lol.

    Peace out all, bling bling, respect all.

     
  • At 3:33 PM, Anonymous Avalon said…

    Interesting to know.

     

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