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What a English of Shakespeare, Beowulf, and King Arthur indeed sounded like

Let’s bound into a time appurtenance and go behind to a England of yore!

If this were a movie, no matter when we got out of a machine, we could travel adult to people and start talking. It could be Gothic times or a age of King Arthur’s turn table, and they’d only say, “Who art thou, varlet?” and we’d respond with something like, “We, uh, would-eth like-eth some beer-eth,” and we’d all party. Yeah, no.

I mean, of march they have to do that in movies, given we need to know them. But this is reality. We’re going to hear what they really talked like. Ready? Buckle up!

Shakespearean England

First stop: a early 1600s. The time of Shakespeare! Of march a English of Shakespeare and a King James Bible might seem flowery, though it’s fundamentally only an comparison chronicle of what we pronounce now. In fact, it’s what linguists call Early Modern English. But a way they spoke it was not utterly what we substantially design — or what we hear in a movies. Do we suppose some Queen’s English accent? Or maybe Cockney for a reduce classes? Guess what: a approach they spoke it would sound to us some-more like a brew of Irish and pirate. Here, listen to Ben Crystal (son of linguist David Crystal) perform a lyric in a diction of Shakespeare’s time:

Medieval England

Next stop: a 1300s. That’s when Geoffrey Chaucer lived. Do we remember a Canterbury Tales? Here’s how it starts:

Whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote

The droghte of Mar hath perced to a roote

And bathed each veyne in swich licour,

Of that vertu engendred is a flour

You can substantially arrange out what’s being said, generally. It has a few differences here and there, though with a small assistance and courtesy we can figure it out. But could we lift on a review in it? Could we even know it if we listened it? Here’s how it sounded, as review by Diane Jones:

Let’s take a time appurtenance behind only another century — still in a Middle English duration — and have a listen to a strain from that time, as sung by a poetic garb Anonymous 4:

Here’s a bit of a content (the þ characters are how we used to write th):

Edi beo þu hevene quene

folkes frovre and engles blis,

moder unwemmed and lass clene

swich in universe non oþer nis.

Do we reckon we could only travel into an motel and sequence adult some beef cake and ale in a place where they spoke this chronicle of English?

But wait, there’s more. A lot more. So far, we’re still after English mislaid many of a complicated noun inflections and formidable written conjugations — and altered a lot of a words. We can appreciate invaders for that: French in a south (starting in 1066) and Scandinavians in a north (starting in a mid-800s though carrying some-more change after on). Before they got to it, English was a whole other thing…

Old English

Old English is a bit of a dubious name. It’s not distinct during all to complicated English speakers; you’d have an easier time training Dutch or Danish. Some people cite to call it Anglo-Saxon, given it’s a denunciation that was brought over by a Angles and Saxons, invaders from northern Germany who took over Britain in a 600s.

The many famous bit of novel from a Old English duration is Beowulf. I’m certain we all know a commencement of Beowulf, right? No? Well, if we don’t, here it is:

Hwæt! We Gardena in geardagum,

þeodcyninga, þrym gefrunon,

hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon.

We’re not with Bill and Ted anymore! Come on, step out of a time appurtenance and let’s listen to a difference shouted by Benjamin Bagby, who sounds like he grew adult then:

Nice of them to give subtitles! Now get back into a machine. We’re going to a 400s and 500s, to a time of King Arthur (if he existed).

Arthurian Britain

Did King Arthur pronounce Old English? Noooo. Do we remember that we pronounced a Angles and Saxons took over Britain in a 600s? Arthurian Britain was before a Germanic invaders came and done a place England (Angle-land). What Arthur and his knights of a turn table, and all a other people around afterwards and there, would have been vocalization was something we now call Brythonic or Brittonic: a Celtic language. Completely distinct complicated English.

So apparently you’re not going to get that pint of beer, given you’re not going to be means to ask for it. And these people unexpected don’t demeanour so welcoming. So we scram behind into a appurtenance and put it in brazen gear… But uh-oh. It doesn’t go behind to complicated English. It follows a people who spoke what they spoke in King Arthur’s time. The Britons.

Brittonic didn’t stop existent when a Anglo-Saxons invaded, we see. Anglo-Saxon didn’t simply reinstate it. The people who spoke it retreated, some to Wales, some to Cornwall, some a small farther. Over a centuries, a denunciation of a ones who retreated to Wales became complicated Welsh, in that Llanfairpwllgwyngyll means “Parish of St. Mary in White Hazel Hollow.” The denunciation of those who retreated to Cornwall became Cornish, that was utterly scarcely wiped out in new centuries, though is carrying a bit of a revival.

But a time appurtenance is following a ones who kept a name of a Britons. They retreated opposite a English Channel — to a partial of France that came to be named after them: Bretagne, or, in English, Brittany. The Celtic denunciation oral there, Breton, is descended from Brittonic, a denunciation of King Arthur (with some French influence, of course). Listen to a Breton thespian Nolwenn Leroy singing a Breton strain about 3 immature sailors (tri martolod yaouank):

Here are some of a lyrics (minus a repeats):

Tri martolod yaouank i vonet da veajiñ

Gant ‘n avel gamble kaset betek an Douar Nevez

E-kichen mein ar veilh o deus mouilhet o eorioù

Hag e-barzh ar veilh-se e oa ur servijourez

It’s about 3 sailors who were blown distant off course. We and a time appurtenance — and a denunciation — know something about that now…


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